Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Windows XP: Driver Signing

Microsoft's Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) digitally signs device drivers to certified that the driver was tested for compatibility with Windows and has not been altered since its testing. This program was implemented by the company to improve the quality of drivers that are available and increase the stability of the operating system.

Drivers can come from many different sources, like an installation CD, a web site, or other various sources. Some device drivers are not digitally signed by Microsoft, which could mean that they may not have been tested as thoroughly as they could have been. There's a greater chance that they could effect the stability of your system because of unknown compatibility issues.

To configure how these signed and unsigned drivers are handled by the OS, you need to open the 'Driver Signing Options' dialog:
  • Open the Control Panel folder.
  • Double click the System applet.
  • Click the Hardware tab.
  • Press the 'Driver Signing' button.
In the dialog, you have three options:
  • Ignore (Allows the installation of any files, signed or not.)
  • Warn (Displays a warning message that the driver being installed is not signed.) [Default]
  • Block (Prevents the installation of unsigned drivers).
Select the option you want, and press the OK button.

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