Any hardware devices attached to your Windows system require you to install hardware drivers to work properly. The hardware drivers have low-level access to your Windows system so that they can work as they should. Since the drivers get access to the kernel, Windows requires those drivers to be officially signed. This means Microsoft tries to block any attempt to install unsigned drivers in Windows.
However, there will be times when you need to install unofficial drivers, unsigned drivers, or even old drivers with no digital signature. It’s possible but not quite as easy as installing signed drivers.
Note: Checking driver signatures is a security feature and disabling it is not recommended. Only install unsigned drivers from trusted sources. Always back up your computer fully before proceeding and ensure you’ve created a recovery drive. An untrusted driver could render your PC unusable without a complete format.
There are three different ways to install unsigned drivers in Windows. Each works, so pick the one you feel most comfortable using or whichever works best for you.
1. Install Unsigned Drivers From Advanced Boot Menu
The easiest way to install unsigned drivers is to use the Windows Advanced Boot menu. To do that:
- Press Win + X, navigate to “Shutdown,” then Shift + left-click on the “Restart” option. This action will restart your system and will take you to the Advanced Boot menu.
- Select the “Troubleshoot” option in the Advanced Boot menu.
- In the Troubleshoot section, select “Advanced Options.”
- Select “Start-up Settings.” The Startup Settings option will allow you to boot your Windows system in different modes.
- Click on the “Restart” button to continue.
- Since we need to install unsigned drivers, press F7 on your keyboard to select the seventh option: “Disable driver signature enforcement.”
As soon as you select it, your system will boot into Windows. You can then install unsigned drivers in Windows without issues. After installing, restart your system, and the Driver Signature Enforcement will be automatically enabled from the next reboot.
If you ever want to install another unsigned driver, you have to go through the above process again. This method is ideal if you just need to install an unsigned driver once or rarely.
2. Install Unsigned Drivers by Enabling Test Mode
Another way to install unsigned drivers in Windows is to enable the Test Mode. The good thing about this method is that it will stay enabled until you manually turn it off — a pretty useful way if you are testing different drivers.
To begin, open your Start menu and type “command prompt.” Select “Run as administrator” under Command Prompt.
The above action will open the Command Prompt with admin rights, which are required to enable Test Mode. At the prompt, copy and execute the below command:
bcdedit /set testsigning on
You’ll see that the command has been successfully executed. Just restart your system, and you’ll be booted into Test Mode. When you are in Test Mode, you can install the unsigned drivers. Moreover, you will also see a watermark, something like the one in the screenshot below, to let you know that your Windows system is in Test Mode.
Once you are done installing the driver, it is important that you turn off Test Mode. To do that, use the below command as an admin and reboot your system:
bcdedit /set testsigning off
3. Install Unsigned Drivers by Disabling Integrity Checks
You can also disable the integrity checks to install unsigned drivers in Windows. Disable integrity checks by opening the Command Prompt as admin (Start, search for Command Prompt, select “Run as administrator”), and execute the below command:
bcdedit /set nointegritychecks off
After executing the command, just restart your system, and you can install the unsigned driver on your Windows machine.
Just like with Test Mode, it is important to reverse the changes you made. To re-enable integrity check, execute the below command as an admin in the command prompt:
bcdedit /set nointegritychecks on
Now, restart the system, and you are good to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are unsigned drivers safe?
It depends on the source. If you trust the source, it’s generally safe to install unsigned drivers.
Windows blocks unsigned drivers by default for a couple of reasons: they can be a source of viruses and they may not function correctly.
If you’re not getting the driver from a trusted source, such as the hardware developer, there is a risk of things going wrong once it’s installed. Be careful if you’re downloading drivers from random forums or suspicious sites full of ads and pop-ups. Those could be problematic.
To be safe:
- Set a System Restore point before installing. This will let you roll back your system to before you installed the driver. Obviously, this won’t help much in the event of a virus, but it will undo any system changes.
- Always scan the downloaded driver with your anti-virus software first. You can also check the site and download link using VirusTotal. Also, watch for any common red flags that the site isn’t safe.
2. What’s special about signed drivers?
Signed drivers are verified to work with your system. They’ve been checked and should work without any issues with your specific Windows version.
Unsigned drivers haven’t been verified to work with your version of Windows or even Windows at all. Think of it as similar to installing an app made for Windows 7 on Windows 11. It might work fine or cause glitches or not work at all.
Also, with unsigned drivers, you don’t know when they might have been changed, which makes it even trickier to determine if they’re right for your system.
3. How can I identify unsigned drivers on my PC?
You can use the in-built Signature Verification Tool (sigverif.exe) to scan your system and ensure all drivers are verified and haven’t been altered.
Press Win +R to open the Run tool. Then, type
sigverif.exe and press OK. Follow the prompts to run the sigverif tool.
This is also a great way to ensure only the unsigned drivers you’ve authorized yourself are installed. Malicious drivers that have installed behind the scenes can show up on this scan too.
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