Prevent Windows From Downloading Broken Drivers From Windows Update

Edit: the solution here does not work. The Windows Update Blocker offers a solution that works until Microsoft releases a new broken version of the broken driver. Frustrated much?

The release of Windows 10 has reminded many of us that Windows Update is usually the worst place to get a driver for your device, be it an Intel HD graphics adapter in your tablet or laptop, or a NIC in a Hyper-V host. The best driver always comes from the maker of your computer (HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc) because they distribute drivers for your specific and,  usually, customised chipset.

Recently I upgraded my 2 ultrabooks, a Lenovo Yoga S1 and a Toshiba KIRAbook, from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. A trip to Device Manager found that the Intel HD graphics cards were broken and I was unable to share my display – projectors are a big part of my job!

I found a fix – but then a day or two later Windows Update decided to reapply Microsoft’s distribution of the driver and I was stuck once again with broken Ultrabooks. I took to Twitter and then I got a response from a Microsoft employee with a solution that should work.

Method 1 – Manual Change

Open up System > Advanced System Settings > Hardware > Device Installation Settings.  Set it to No, Let Me Choose What To Do and set Never Install Driver Software From Windows Update.

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Method 2 – The Registry

Open REGEDIT and set both of these REG_DWORD values to 0:

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\Windows\CurrentVersion\DriverSearching\SearchOrderConfig
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\Windows\CurrentVersion\Device Metadata\PreventDeviceMetadataFromNetwork

Method 3 – Group Policy

The above are fine if you have one or two machines to modify, but what if you have dozens or hundreds of machines to update? Hopefully these machines are domain members; if so then you can deploy a GPO to them to make the required changes.

Look for a setting called Specify Search Order For Device Driver Locations in Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Device Installation. Enable the policy and set Select Search Order to Do Not Search Windows Update.

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You should also enable Prevent Device Metadata Retrieval From The Internet at the same location in GPO.

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Updating Drivers

Yes, you do need to update drivers – drivers and firmware are the cause of many issues on PCs, Hyper-V hosts, etc. On my PCs/laptops I install the OEM’s updating tool and regularly run a check/update. So where can you get drivers from in a larger environment. Well; always form the OEM. How do you distribute them?

  • Manually
  • A shared folder
  • Cluster Aware Updating – see what Dell has done
  • System Center, possibly even with OEM additions
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3 Comments on Prevent Windows From Downloading Broken Drivers From Windows Update

  1. SCUP and SCCM has always worked perfectly for me for Dell setups.
    Just watch out for BIOS updates and Bitlocker. Recovery key hell if you let SCCM install them!

  2. We’ve heard that Dell will be discontinuing their SUU releases. Presumably for updating through the iDRAC/Lifecycle Controller. Do they have anything in the works to take its place for CAU?

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