Manual Override: Installing Windows Drivers Manually

Have you ever needed a driver installed on your PC but did not enjoy the software that was bundled as part of the installation files?  Did you know you can manually install drivers that have the potential to skip the unwanted items?  This can be possible, with minimal technical skill and some luck with how the device manufacturer packaged their driver.

The Problem:

As I mentioned in the Technical Difficulties post, I am in the process of upgrading our home network so the majority of our devices can use the less crowded 5Ghz wireless band in hopes of getting a better wireless experience.  As part of this upgrade I purchased new dual band AC routers and a USB 3 dual band AC adapter.  This adapter is an Edimax AC 1200 and after installing it with stock drivers I noticed new notifications coming from my side bar with pretty much useless information telling me when it attempts to connect and other pop ups.  I prefer to have my wireless connect silently and automatically and if I have no network/internet access I will discover it soon enough.  These notifications became bothersome so I wanted to find a way to install only the device driver and not the additional Edimax software that is included whether anybody wants it or not.  Luckily for me Edimax has a folder in its driver installation files that contains only the drivers for each version of Windows.  Knowing where the driver files are saved I was able to manually install the driver without using setup.exe.

The Process:

To install a driver manually, first you will want to check to see if the manufacturer has packaged the drivers in a readable location.  To do this download the installation files and look for a folder that has driver in the name or folders that correspond to different versions of Windows.  You want to find anything that looks like it may contain individual drivers/data files.

Folder containing driver files.
This folder contains driver files.  Looking at the path location, these files are in a folder labeled Win7x64 which corresponds to the version of Windows the driver is designed for.

If these folders exist, you may be able to install the driver manually.  To do so go to device manager.  This can be found by searching for the program name or going to Control Panel->System and Security and under the System section is the option for Device Manager.

Once in Device Manager, identify the device you wish to install the driver.  Then right click the device and go to properties.

Device Manager with right-click device options.
Under Device Manager you can right-click any item to access its properties.

From here, click the Driver tab at the top and then click Update driver.

Update Driver selection allows you to manually update the driver for the device.
Under the device properties, click the Driver tab and then ‘Update Driver…’

On the next screen, Windows will ask you if you if you want to search online for drivers or browse your computer.  Select ‘Browse my computer for driver software’.

Driver update location window.
To manually install/update the driver, click ‘Browse my computer for driver software’

Next you will be prompted to select the driver location.  Click ‘Browse…’ and use the folder selection dialog to navigate to the proper location.

Selecting the proper driver folder location.

After selecting the correct folder, click ‘Next’ and Windows will attempt to locate the a driver within the selected folder.  If the driver is able to be found, Windows will automatically install it.

Driver folder selection window.
After selecting the driver location, click ‘Next’ to have Windows attempt to install the driver.
Driver successfully installed.
Success, the driver has been installed!

After closing out of the properties window, you should now see your device information updated in the list of devices under Device Manager.

Device Manager has been updated with the information from the driver.
Device Manager has been updated with the information from the driver.

That’s all there is to it for manually installing a driver.

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