I am one of those users who really likes to know what is going on in my system. On all of my Linux systems, this functionality is built-in via command-line and some GUI tools. With my Windows system, to get a listing of all loaded drivers (as well as any information about those drivers), the easiest way to get this information is with the free tool DriverView.
DriverView allows you to easily gain access to various driver listings and quickly access the following information:
- Load addresses of the driver
- Description of the driver
- Driver version
- Product name
- Company that created driver
- File type
- Modified date
- Created date
- File attributes
With this information you can:
- Generate HTML reports
- View Microsoft, non-Microsoft, or all drivers
- Choose what information you see about a driver
DriverView can be used in Windows NT, 2000, XP, and Vista. Windows 98 and ME are not supported, and if you want to use DriverView in Windows NT you need to download the psapi.dll file and place it into the system32 folder.
DriverView not only has an easy-to-use GUI, it also enjoys a robust command line that allows you to quickly generate reports in various formats.
This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.
Getting and installing
Unlike some Windows applications, DriverView doesn't actually have an installation tool. Instead, when you download the file you will unzip it, which will unpack three files:
- DriverView.exe - The executable command that is used for both the GUI and the command-line formats
- DriverView.chm - The DriverView help file
- DriverView.cfg - The DriverView configuration file
Once you have unzipped the file you can place both the DriverView.exe and DriverView.cfg into a directory that you keep other, similar executables in. If you want to have an entry for DriverView in your Start menu you can right-click the DriverView.exe file and select Pin To Start Menu or you can add an entry in the Quick Launch menu by right-clicking the DriverView.exe file and selecting Add to Quick Launch. Either method will give you quick access to the DriverView tool.Note: You will still need to know where the .exe file is in case you want to run DriverView from the command line.
When you first open DriverView you may think the application has frozen. Upon first run, DriverView takes a while to gather a listing of your drivers. I noticed this and opened up the Task Manager to see DriverView listed as "Not Responding." This is not truly the case. DriverView is working and will complete its task, just give it a moment.When DriverView finally opens, you will be treated with a full listing of the drivers loaded on your machine (Figure A).
At a glance you can see how much information you can gain from DriverView.Once you have your listing, what can you do with it? The most important task you can do with DriverView is to generate a report. To do this, go to the View menu and select HTML Report - All Items. What this will do is generate an HTML file and open it in your default browser. Figure B shows a portion of an HTML report generated with DriverView.
To save this report, go to your Browsers' File menu and click Save Page As.
SearchingYou can also search your entire listing of loaded drivers with the built-in search tool. To do a search, click on the search button, shown in Figure C.
The search button is shown inside the gray square.
Hiding driversWith DriverView you can hide certain types of drivers. Say, for instance, you want to see only drivers that are non-Microsoft drivers. Go to the View menu and select Hide Microsoft Drivers. When you do this, your listing of drivers will be cut by more than 50 percent, so the listing is easier to weed through (Figure D).
My listing went from 144 drivers to 22 drivers.
With the command-line aspect of DriverView you can do one thing: generate reports. But with the command line you can generate your reports in different formats. To use the command line you have to open up the Microsoft Command Window, change to the directory you placed the .exe file, and issue one of the following commands:
- DriverView.exe /stext FILENAME.txt - Regular text file
- DriverView.exe /stab FILENAME.txt - Tab-delimited text file
- DriverView.exe /scomma FILENAME.txt - Comma-delimited text file
- DriverView.exe /stabular FILENAME.txt - Tabular text file
- DriverView.exe /shtml FILENAME.html - Horizontal HTML file
- DriverView.exe /sverhtml FILENAME.html - Vertical HTML file
- DriverView.exe /sxml FILENAME.html - XML file
Where FILENAME is the name of the file you want to save your report as.
For those administrators where information is critical to a well-oiled machine, DriverView is a tool you should not be without. The information you can gain from this tool is invaluable and will, at some point, get you out of a jam. DriverView is considered Freeware, so there is no cost. You can distribute the tool as much as you want via disk or Internet. DriverView is not, however, open source, so you cannot modify the code.
Stay on top of the latest XP tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows XP newsletter, delivered every Thursday. Automatically sign up today!
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.