Computer drivers do not always come in EXE setup file format. Some companies especially the smaller ones do not packaged their drivers properly, instead they are more prefer to use INF file released by the OEM manufacturers.

So what is the INF driver files? How do we install driver via INF files? Well, first of all INF driver is only applicable for Windows OS. INF files here means Information or more specifically Setup Information files. As the name suggests, INF file is some kind of information file containing installation script for a hardware in a particular operation system. The INF file will tell our system what version of Windows it is meant to be installed into, as well as other specific hardware related information such as manufacturer name, driver version, date and ClassGUID identifier.

Here is an example to better explain the structure of INF file:
; Version Section
;——————————————————————————
[version]
Signature = “$Windows NT$”
Compatible = 1
Class = net
ClassGUID = {4d36e972-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}
Provider = %PROVIDER_NAME%
DriverVer = 03/18/2010,13.2.0.30 ;DATE HAS TO BE IN FOLLOWING FORMAT MM/DD/YYYY

We will usually find at least three files (.INF, .SYS and .CAT) in the same directory. These three files will have the same file name but with different extensions. For example for Intel Wireless WiFi Link Adapters Installation Script for Windows7 64 bit:

  1. NETw5s64.INF
  2. NETw5s64.SYS
  3. NETw5s64.CAT

Installing driver via INF file is not easy for a beginner in computer as the whole process is not quit as straight forward as installing driver from EXE setup file. However I try my best to give you a clearer and better step by step guide here:

  1. You must download the INF files as well as other related files. Fortunately they are usually zipped into a same file. So we just have to unzip them into a temporary folder. We need to browse to this folder later so we will name it something simple, such as C:\driver\
  2. Right click on the INF file and select INSTALL. Reboot your PC and if the new driver is working, great. You can stop here. If not, proceed to next step.
  3. Go to Device Manager. Click Start Menu -> Control Panel -> Device Manager. Open Device Manager by double clicking on it.
  4. You will see a list of hardware inside Device Manager window. Find the hardware that you are going to install the new driver INF. Usually for a new hardware without proper driver, you will see a yellow exclamation mark beside the name of the hardware.
  5. Right click the hardware name and select [Update Driver Software] -> [Browse my computer for driver software].
  6. Now we will browse to the folder where we have just unzipped our INF files. In the [Browse for Folder] window, the OK button will only clickable if a valid INF file found inside the selected folder.
  7. Once you have select the folder (example C:\driver\), click NEXT and Windows will try to lead the INF file as well as all other needed system and configuration files.
  8. Restart you computer for the new driver to take effect. Your new hardware should be working fine now.

Please bear in mind installing driver via INF file is not an easy task. If it is not working, please try other driver and if all fail, please check if it is a hardware issue and not software.

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