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Troubleshoot Vista system drivers more efficiently with these tools

To make the task of gathering information on a number of device drivers easier, you can use a native command line tool called Driver Query or you can use a nice little third-party utility called DriverView. Greg Shultz shows you how to gather detailed information on drivers using these two tools.

Microsoft Windows Vista started out with a litany of problems related to, among other things, device driver incompatibilities. While in the last year many of the most common driver problems have been solved, you may still incur strange or erratic problems related to drivers in Windows Vista.

When you're troubleshooting a problem in Vista that you suspect is related to a driver, you can find detailed information about it and any specific driver being used in the system by going to Device Manager, selecting the device from the list, and drilling down to the device's Properties sheet. While this technique is fine when you're looking for information on one specific device driver, it's not very efficient when you're seeking information on a number of device drivers.

To make the task of gathering information on a number of device drivers easier, you can use a native command-line tool called Driver Query or you can use a nice little third-party utility called DriverView. In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll show you how to gather detailed information on drivers using these two tools.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Using Driver Query

Driver Query is a command-line tool (Driverquery.exe) that is designed to provide you with a detailed list of all the device drivers installed on a local system or on any system on a network. To do its job the Driver Query provides you with a series of command-line parameters. Of course, you can use the Driver Query command without any parameters, but using them allows you to get more specific details as well as format the results.

For example, using the /si parameter provides information on just the signed drivers. Using the /v parameter (verbose mode) provides more details. Using the /fo parameter allows you to format the results as a list or to save the results in a CSV file (Comma Separated Values) so you can open them in a spreadsheet application such as Excel. (If you want to do any type of detailed analysis, you should save the results as a CSV file.)

To create a spreadsheet file containing information about only the signed drivers, you would open a Command Prompt window and type the command:

Driverquery /fo csv /si  > signeddrivers.csv

To create a spreadsheet file containing detailed information about all the installed drivers, you would use the command:

Driverquery /fo csv /v  > alldrivers.csv

Using DriverView

DriverView is a lightweight utility with a simple GUI interface for viewing detailed information about all the installed drivers on your system. There's no installation procedure, just download the zip file, extract the executable DriverView.exe, and run it. You can download DriverView from the TechRepublic Software Library. (Note that DriverView doesn't specifically list Windows Vista in its list of requirements, but the most recent edition, 1.14, was created in 2008 and I've been running it in Vista without any problems.)

When you launch DriverView, you'll see a spreadsheet-like display, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

DriverView uses a spreadsheet-like interface to display driver details.

As you can see, the column headers across the top clearly identify all the information about each driver in the display. By default, the drivers are sorted alphabetically by the name of the driver. However, you can sort by any column just by clicking the column header. A triangle icon indicates whether the sort is ascending or descending.

While all the pertinent information about the driver is displayed in the driver's row, you can view each individual driver file's properties as well as the driver's properties. To view the driver file's properties, just select the driver and press [F8]. For example, Figure B shows the mouclass.sys file's properties.

Figure B

From within DriverView, you can display driver file's properties.
To view just the driver's properties, just double-click the driver and you'll see all the driver's details in a single dialog box, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

To take a quick look at a driver's properties, just double-click the driver.
In addition to viewing the driver properties in DriverView's interface, you can create HTML Reports containing all the drivers in the list or just those drivers that you select. Just pull down the View menu and select that HTML Report option. For example, Figure D shows an HTML report of the AVG driver files.

Figure D

You can easily create an HTML Report containing just those drivers you select.

What's your take on Vista driver problems?

Have you encountered problems with drivers in Windows Vista? Have you used Driver Query to gather information on a driver? Will you investigate DriverView? Are there other utilities or tools that you use to investigate driver problems? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear from you.

TechRepublic's Windows Vista Report newsletter, delivered every Friday, offers tips, news, and scuttlebutt on Vista development, as well as a look at new features in the latest version of the Windows OS. Automatically sign up today!

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

15 comments
susant.90
susant.90

my self so many face problem.In sybase application i want a report to save pdf(save as pdf)that did not save and there is no error showing .what is problem is vista or anothere problem

charlyg09
charlyg09

Hello. I do all you indicate we must do. When I write C:\> Driverquery /fo csv /v > alldrivers.csv and push Enter the system answer is: access denied. Is there a syntax error? I think is a usefull tool if it work properly. gonzalezcarlosedu@gmail.com

hjs
hjs

HI. The software contains a TROJAN called: Generic PWS.y and was removed by McAfee!! You guys should be more careful! Henri

tedmcm
tedmcm

I have a mouse driver problem and have had almost from the beginning... I have 64-bit Vista Ultimate, and I managed to install a 32-bit Logitech mouse driver. Now, however, I can't uninstall it. I get the message: "Uninstallation can't find standard mouse driver "i8042prt.sys" in windows system directory. So you can't uninstall this software." It looks to me like the file is in the location indicated, but I can't get past this. And because of that, I can't configure my Microsoft mouse beyond the default settings. I'm at a complete loss!

T0797tj
T0797tj

I had a problem with the drivers on nvidia on a streaming down load from CBS. But mh HP reported the problem and gave me suggestions on repairs it di that and the problem went away. But i love your site and it has helped me tremendously thank you

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Have you encountered problems with drivers in Windows Vista? Have you used Driver Query to gather information on driver? Will you investigate DriverView? Are there other utilities or tools that you use to investigate driver problems?

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If the account running the command can't write to the root of the C drive, you'll experience the "Access is denied" message. Redirect output to a temp folder, like: Driverquery /fo csv /v > %temp%\\alldrivers.csv

cowen80194
cowen80194

This is a great tool if you do not want to trust a better AV scanner to not False detect that is your choice but. AVG, Panda, Comodo reported clean from download to install as it passed through the AV Network and Firewalls all signatures updated this morning. All 3 systems scanned it as it passed and none of them deleted it in transfer. Norton is giving a false positive being overly cautious.

brown54
brown54

I think everyone stuck with the M/Soft Vista 64 bit system is having mouse driver problems. I even have a Microsoft mouse and it jumps where ever it wants. No updated drivers so just have to live with it. Seems kinda stupid to come out with an operating system that won't run their own hardware or software without major problems (I'm speaking mostly about M/S Office 2007). This O/S came on a new computer. If I could take it back I would. I feel like I'm a M/S "unpaid" beta tester every time I boot this new computer. I think M/S should be forced to update every computer that's been sold with 64 bit pre-installed. What a game these guys are playing.

amj2010
amj2010

there are programs commercial and free, which tell you which driver needs updated, some do that automatically for ye. you can go to the device manager in vista and ask each driver to update itself...

verycheeky+zdnet
verycheeky+zdnet

Yea cool, from the ORB I typed CMD then pressed Ctrl+Shift+Enter and entered this command.. DRIVERQUERY /FO CSV /V > alldrivers.csv Then C:\Windows\system32>alldrivers.csv And I got Excell to pop up and I applied a filter to filter out all microsoft drivers.. Now what!??! Filter the ones that have stopped? Filter the ones that are disabled? ones from left over device? I think this article was just posted to get hits, it got mine!

Aakash Shah
Aakash Shah

My Logitech G7 wireless laser mouse has been working perfectly also with Vista x64. However, I did experience a few software issues where some of the special buttons didn't use my custom settings when running a program as an admin. But I got around that problem by scheduling the Logitech software to run with highest privileges. But, in terms of normal mouse functionality, I have not experienced any problems.

jeffro in Berkshire
jeffro in Berkshire

Well I am on the other side of this issue! I have been running the 64 bit version of Vista with a Logitech DiNovo Bluetooth Keyboard / Mouse / Keypad setup which has never worked better and that is without the drivers. I plugged it in - installed Vista 64 and it has never failed me - HE SAYS LOOKING FOR ALL THE WOOD IN THE HOUSE TO TOUCH! So no not everyone is exhibiting mouse issues, maybe you need to unintall the drivers, including the hidden ones and restart the machine

amj2010
amj2010

I tell you this, I have several wireless keyboards and mouses had on my VU64bits, and some MS which from the mouse let me down after a while, so now I have a cheap wireless keyboard and mouse from Silvercrest which works fine. it's trial and error, so you don't need the latest and greatest all the time, just go after it. it's best to kill the old drivers by uninstall them first, before you install the new ones. If you are not interested in technology and just are a buttonpusher, try Apple for a chance.