How to delete the Windows 7 hardware profile (so that it asks for drivers again) RRS feed

  • Question

  • I had to replace the mainboard in a Windows 7 system and now 7 won't load the GUI at all. I'm certain that it's because the chipset and video are different on the new mainboard and the existing drivers are causing it to crash. Unfortunately, removing the original drivers was not an option before replacing the board. I'm pretty sure I can load the command prompt (if not, I have a way to access the drive on a different computer). I need to know what file(s) to delete in order to make 7 forget the hardware profile so it will ask for drivers on next start.
    Monday, February 8, 2010 7:55 AM

All replies

  • Your best bet is to do a inplace upgrade (use the DVD to do this).

    Monday, February 8, 2010 9:32 AM
  • Or....  The preconfigured driver files are found in Windows/inf directory. They are listed as OEMx .inf, .pnf.  These can be deleted, but then you would need to uninstall them from Device manager for it to work.  Surprised it wont boot, not even in safe mode? Ive replaced HDD with one from another machine, and Windows always booted, different chipsets and all.  Very curious...

    I assume the reason you want to keep using the same build is you have sensitive files, if this doesnt work, just move all your personal folders off the drive, and then do what Bubba said, and do an inplace upgrade with the DVD.

    Hope this helps!
    Network Systems Engineer * Zvetco Biometrics * Windows Server 2008 R2 * Core2 6600 @ 2.40GHz * 16 GIGS RAM * NVIDIA 9400GT * **>>PLEASE VOTE POSTS AS USEFUL TO ASSIST OTHER USERS<
    Monday, February 8, 2010 2:44 PM
  • There is no DVD. This system is an HP pre-built system and the only option is to do a "System Recovery" (reload factory configuration) which then re-installs all the original drivers. Problem is that the mainboard has been replaced so those drivers no longer apply.

    I've always been able to load safe mode in the past to upgrade the drivers in situations like this, however Windows 7 is apparently different enough that this option does not work. I obviously can't load Device Manager to remove anything because I can't load the GUI.

    This computer is a customer machine who's little kid pulled the video cable off the back without unscrewing the connections, thereby ripping the onboard video port from the mainboard. It was cheaper to get a replacement mainboard than to get a PCI-e video card and I assumed that I'd be able to get safe mode to remove the original drivers. The version of mainboard that came with the system has been replaced by this newer version and the original version board is no longer available. The newer version mainboard has a different chipset and I suspect this is the reason 7 won't load, not even in safe mode.

    Do you still think renaming/deleting the inf and pnf files will force 7 to a stock configuration, load a GUI and ask for the chipset drivers?
    Monday, February 8, 2010 4:34 PM
  • legally OEM software can not used this way.

    OEM software dies with the PC unless the Motherboard is replaced unwarranty by HP.

    If you change chipset many times winodws will boot even to safe mode.

    You can try the reload but you may not get a new code from Microsoft.

    Monday, February 8, 2010 7:48 PM
  • Similar problem here: my box (running Win7 RC1) toasted itself. Since it was past time to upgrade, I took the plunge and replaced the hardware (case, CPU/cooler/mobo, video, memory) but the HDs seem OK (accessible via a WinPE-based boot CD and in an external drive case). Attempting to boot the system as is (post rebuild) simply blue screens with a STOP error (re: drivers). Ultimately, this will receive a new 64-bit OS (particularly since Win7 RC1 will start shutting itself down every two hours starting in March 2010), but it's an interesting exercise.

    I first tried to perform an in-place repair using the DVD but was told that it could not be repaired (Windows cannot repair this computer automatically).

    Then, following the advice in here, I moved the OEM##.INF and .PNF files to another folder on the drive (never delete) and tried to use the repair function but was told again that it's irrepairable. And although it may be possible to remove driver files from C:\Windows\System32\Drivers, I'm not certain that will get me anywhere.

    Now, my boot CD provides a remote registry option that permits me to select C:\Windows. Browsing through here, I see evidence that it recognizes the new CPU, mobo and BIOS (all identified conveniently HKLM\HARDWARE). Obviously, there's no CurrentControlSet, but there are ControlSet001 and ControlSet002 (previously successful boot attempts). I can see the drives previously available (HKLM\SYSTEM\MountedDevices), in which both a drive letter and a volume ID are listed, so I removed what used to be drive A:.

    So, ShadowHunterNV, the short answer is that merely moving (never delete) the INF and PNF files is insufficient. Something more is required ... but what? Search for NVidia (my previous video card) in the registry, and remove all occurrences, then rename the existing NVidia folders?

    Open for suggestions ...
    Monday, February 8, 2010 8:52 PM
  • moving the .inf files will do nothing for not booting
    .inf = INFO on the driver / registry entry.

    there are two main files which cause issues ...apg440.sys and intelppm.sys (I think I spelled those right)

    If the box HAD agp and AMD and now has pci-e and intel delete both files.

    The best bet is backup what data you want,  boot to the DVD go into the setup until it ask you where to install, tell it and then select repair (some folks make the mistake of selecting the first repair option.

    Monday, February 8, 2010 10:40 PM
  • The failure was unexpected; although I am backed up (both system and specific files/folders), I would like to resolve /address a couple of issues before doing a reinstall of a new OS. And since  I won't have a 64-bit disc for another day or so, I have time to play.

    Back on topic ... I upgraded from a P4 to an i7, so I'm (still) running Intel, but I'm no longer using AGP.; anyway, when I previously attempted to resolve by booting into Safe Mode, I noticed the AGP driver file and wondered ... now I've renamed AGP440.SYS (but you WERE right on both counts) and rebooted ... Startup Repair started and still failed. Now for the DVD option ...

    Install now ->, then check the box to "accept the license terms". Two options on installing: Upgrade or Custom.

    Upgrade: requires that Windows be started normally so an upgrade can be performed. Not possible, won't boot.
    Custom: select partition ... installation starts, no Repair option. Canceled quickly and back to the Windows 7 Install now -> screen.

    If I select Repair, then it allows me to search for an existing Windows installation to repair, but that still fails (predictably).

    So far, no change. HOWEVER, since I was using an NVidia card, I randomly looked for NVidia drivers and found NV_AGP.SYS in the /Drivers folder; renamed and rebooted ... no change.

    I'm going to restore the INF files and regroup. If there's an upside, it doesn't blue screen now ...
    Monday, February 8, 2010 11:20 PM
  • Bubbapcguy: Thanks for trying to help but if you're not going to read the thread then don't bother.

    Unknown3rdParty: Thanks for the insight, please keep me informed. I'm going to try the factory recovery option and see if I can intercede the driver installation and see that helps. I already have a backup of this customers data so I'm not worried about losing anything. I also have a USB external drive case so if necessary I can access all the files on it through another computer. I don't really have the luxury of time since this guy is going to want his computer back pretty soon. I probably have to the end of the week, realistically.

    Any other suggestions on what I might be able to do? (please read the entire thread before jumping in, thank you!)

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 5:40 AM
  • Shadow I did read the thread ..did you?

    I know you do not have a recovery DVD for the HP, If you are a shop do you not have a copy of win 7 to repair the box?

    I gave you the suggestion which would allow the box to  boot but as you had not stated all the need spec I could only guess at what drivers you are loading

    I do not know the drivers name for PCI-e (so i used APG as I know that one) you would need to figure that out yourself.

    Everything else is spot on,,,
    deleting INF do nothing to help you boot.
    OEM software can not be used with a new motherboard unless under factory warranty (woul have been the same MB in that case)

    I have done this many times over years with both 2000 and XP (98 you only had to delete one key)

     I have not done it with win7 but the process should be the same.

    And I do not like HP but I THINK they offer two recovery options.
    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 7:24 AM
  • Bubbapcguy: Sorry, did not mean to sound rude... you suggested I use a DVD even after I said I didn't have one. I am an independent repair tech but not a "shop" with endless financial resources or for-sale product on the shelves. You wrote that when chipset is changed that many times Windows will boot to safe mode... and that's what I expected but it didn't work in this case so that's why I started the thread in the first place. I thought perhaps, like in previous versions of Windows, there might be a file with the hardware profile that could just be deleted (HWINFO.INF ?) but I didn't want to just delete/rename stuff without checking here first. I also have much experience with all previous versions of Windows, including XP and Vista always allowing access to Safe Mode where the registry could be edited and drivers removed but as I wrote earlier Windows 7 is apparently different because these options aren't available. It seemed to me that if you had actually read (and not just skimmed over) my posts...........

    Ok, you want more details....

    The system is an HP slimline prebuilt system that came with the ASUS M2N68-LA mainboard. The video connector got ripped off the board completely, left with wires hanging off. The board has a PCI-Express expansion slot but when I gave the customer the option to buy a PCI-e card (over $100) versus replacing the mainboard (under $100) he opted for the latter (especially since this means not having wires hanging off that his kid might do more damage with). The replacement board is the ASUS M3N78-VM mainboard (the M2N68-XX was no longer available).

    The system starts into what appears to be "safe-mode" but with an HP utility that provides only the options Restore (from previous restore point), Recover (from factory partition) or Repair (which did not work, after 30 minutes it says "Windows cannot repair..." or something to that effect). If I try to exit the utility the system automatically restarts (no option for task manager to end the process). I can get a command prompt but not a GUI. I also have an external USB case I can use to access the drive with a different computer.

    I have not yet tried to Recover yet, I do have a backup of the customer's important data so nothing to worry about lost data. I plan to try the Recovery option today, just wanted to get everyone's feedback first in case there was a way to just remove the current hardware profile by deleting/renaming some key files that would allow 7 to boot into safe mode.
    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 7:25 PM
  • The HAL is what windows looks at when it boots, but I do not think that deleting it would help you it may.

    Also sometimes in the BIOS you can how the harddrive is accessed. (sata / ahci)

    turn on / off APCI
    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 7:32 PM
  • ShadowHunterNV: Sorry for the appearance of having hijacked your discussion ... that was NOT my intent. It merely sounded like both of us had a similar problem. I wanted to contribute AND to help solve my own problem. Both of our systems met an untimely end, but there IS one significant difference: you've got an OEM system and mine is custom built, and I downloaded my Win7RC1 from Microsoft.

    And so far, we have had similar results but no solution.

    I used to have an NVidia video card and a Creative SoundBlaster Audigy sound card. Both HDs are and were SATA. I tried removing NVidia references from the registry and renaming NVidia driver and application files (ditto for Creative), but to no effect: I still got the automatic repair response and the same "unable to repair" result. Again, I don't appear to be blue screening any longer, but I'm not able to boot.

    In years past, I have "super-installed" (installed over the top of itself) Win3x, Win98 and WinMe and resolved numerous problems. I have swapped HDs between systems and watched Win98, Win2K, WinXP and Win2K3 go through multiple conniptions and reboots to install new drivers for the newly discovered hardware and come out smiling (and panting!). However, Win7 (and presumably Win2K8) appears (thus far) to be a different beast. I still believe that there's a single point that will cause Win7 to prompt for new drivers OR set out to discover new drivers ... but so far, we haven't found it.

    At this point, I'm not worried: I'll be installing a new 64-bit OS (and in the process deleting and recreating the partition) and restoring my backed up data shortly.
    Tuesday, February 9, 2010 11:28 PM
  • Unknown3rdParty: I didn't think you hijacked my discussion and I agree it appears that we have very similar problems in that the hardware has changed and W7 is reluctant to ask for new drivers, as previous OS's have done. I was hoping that if you had fixed yours you might offer some insight to mine. Keep me posted! :-)

    Bubbapcguy: Thank you for the ideas... I'll try those.
    Wednesday, February 10, 2010 2:22 AM
  • Just to confirm the degree of similarity: you cannot log into Win7, right? In my case, the Win7 startup screen appears (the new progress bar and the rotating colored dots), then it goes right to the

    I did some searching and found a couple of potentially promising solutions:


    http://www.sevenforums.com/installation-setup/27967-problems-new-motherboard-installation.html (see the very last post)

    I'll be trying more tomorrow.
    Wednesday, February 10, 2010 3:04 AM
  • @ ShadowHunter:  honestly, I really don't think that loading the HP Restore is going to help it one bit.  Reason:  it'll simply reload the HP image, which is configured for the original motherboard.  You'd be back to square one.

    Got a PCIe videocard laying around (or, that you can 'borrow' from another PC)?  I'd bet you do....
    If you do:  put the system back together (old mobo), using that videocard.  Once you're in Windows, run Sysprep with the /generalize and /shutdown options.  This will reset the hardware configuration to a 'virgin' state (in addition to clearing the Event Logs, deleting all user accounts, and deleting all user files), and power down the system.  Since you already have the customer's data backed up, this shouldn't be too much of an issue.
    Once Sysprepped, change the motherboard, and start the PC - it should start correctly, and run OOBE (just as if it was a 'new' PC.)

    As to the repair:
    Me, I would have taped over the gaping hole (from both sides), isolated any hanging wires inside with tape and/or shrinkwrap, and installed a videocard.  Really nice cards (such as, say, an HD4650) can be had for ~$50.
    Would have been a lot simpler in the long run.  And, it would leave it possible for the customer to use the HP Restore function in the future, should the need arise. 
    Just saying...  ;)

    [If this post helps to resolve your issue, please click the "Mark as Answer" or "Helpful" button at the top of this message. By marking a post as Answered, or Helpful you help others find the answer faster.]
    Wednesday, February 10, 2010 5:41 AM
  • I tried both options Chris... first I was able to get a command prompt (was only able to get that once) and ran "sysprep /generalize" but it made no difference. Then I put the old mainboard back in with an old PCIe card that I had and got no video. Apparently, the original mainboard has to be told that there is an external video card is installed and since I can't see the display I can't change the bios options (unless the external video card simply doesn't work).
    Wednesday, February 10, 2010 11:56 PM
  • That, well, sucks.  :(   Stupid HP BIOSes.....

    The quick option, of course, would be to simply get your customer a new OS ($105 for Win7 Home Premium OEM), and reinstall the OS.
    Sucks, because the original (preinstalled) OS is still legal for this box (Bubbapcguy, take note here!) - since it's a sanctioned (by the manufacturer) replacement board, you can continue to use the preinstalled OS (doesn't matter if it's a warranty replacement or not.)

    Option #2 (in-place upgrade) requires that you have a full-version Win7 disc, same version that the customer has, and that you can boot into Windows first (which you can't.) 
    So, scratch that option. 

    Option #3 (requires a lot of time):
    manually clear the hardware configuration (Registry keys and HAL) from the command line.  This also requires that you have a full version Win7 disc (same bit-version as the customer's OS; level doens't matter.)  Boot into the recovery console, and start a command prompt there.
    I've done this on XP machines in the past (Sysprep issues), but can't remember ATM all of the commands required (nor can I remember what my Google terms were.)  Sorry.  :(

    The time required to do this, though, makes option #1 start to look a lot more economical for your customer at this point.  ;)

    Maybe something to go on?

    [If this post helps to resolve your issue, please click the "Mark as Answer" or "Helpful" button at the top of this message. By marking a post as Answered, or Helpful you help others find the answer faster.]
    Thursday, February 11, 2010 1:40 AM
  • Chris, This is  not a "sanctioned (by the manufacturer) replacement board".

    "the manufacturer" is HP not Asus ..Asus builds the boards for HP but uses a custom "HP" branded BIOS.

    This is some guy working on a customers old dead PC, for the OEM to be in used would required the OEM
    provide the replacement board, and HP would provide the correct part if under warranty.

    If HP did not have access to the refrub part, they would have provided a new set of install disc.

    I have done plenty of contract repair on HP / Compaq / Package Bell / Gateway / Dell and they all do it the same way.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010 10:20 AM
  • I'm not "some guy" working on an "old dead PC". I'm a professional computer repair tech that works independently because the economy sucks right now and there aren't any jobs available in my area at the moment. I just haven't had any experience with Windows 7 until now. I've also done plenty of contract repair work on all those manufacturers in the years past.

    The PC is actually new and was still under warranty until I took the original mainboard out of it BUT HP doesn't consider a physically ripped out video connector as a warranty repair. The cost they quoted for a "replacement" mainboard was as much as a replacement computer at Walmart.

    I gave the customer the options to buy a replacement mainboard from HP, a new PCI express video card or a replacement mainboard 1 level up from the one that came with the computer. With experience in the past with this guy taking forever to pay me, I charged him in advance (I expected that Windows 7 would do the same thing that previous OS's had done when a new mainboard was installed... allow safe mode so the original drivers could be deleted and new drivers installed and so based my fees on that). To go back and change hardware options now would end up costing me money where my margin wasn't that great in the first place.

    I believe I can get a "recovery console" command prompt again, I had it once. I just need to know what files to delete so it will boot to safe mode. Simple question that doesn't require a lot of banter.

    This ____ is quickly reminding me of the the OLD HP way of making their boxes so proprietary that it was impossible to upgrade or fix outside of their warranty.

    Thank you Chris for trying to help... I very much appreciate any suggestions. I don't have a Windows 7 disc.

    I suppose if nothing else works I'll contact HP support again and see if they can offer any suggestions.
    Thursday, February 11, 2010 5:37 PM