What is WHQL Certified Drivers?
WHQL stands for Windows Hardware Quality Labs. A hardware manufacturer creates a driver for his hardware or device and submits to Microsoft which will conduct a series of tests to validate the compatibility of these files with the intended Windows operating system. Once the driver passes these tests, WHQL Certification awarded to it and a digital signature is embedded in the zip or exe installer and the WHQL Certified driver is returned to the hardware manufacturer.
How do I know the Driver is WHQL Certified?
When you start installing a driver, Windows automatically recognizes the digital signature and if cannot verify the signature or the publisher from the list of validated names, it will give you a warning that the driver is unsigned or the publisher cannot be verified. WHQL Certified drivers will install without any warnings.
Can I install a non WHQL Driver in my PC?
Yes, All 32 bit Windows versions of Windows 7, XP, Vista, ME, 2000, 2003 etc will allow you install the driver even if there is not digital signature or it is non WHQL Certified driver. When the warning appears you click continue anyway button and the it gets installed without any further problem. However, all the 64 bit Windows 7, XP, Vista etc will not let you install a non WHQL Driver on your PC or Laptop.
Why all Drivers are not WHQL Certified?
The WHQL Certification process takes a long time because there are so many drivers in the queue for certification. Microsoft does charge the hardware manufacturer for the certification. This means a driver that has a bug fix or introduces a new feature for your hardware will have to be released many days later. So the manufacturer skips the WHQL Certification and releases the driver as is Online or will give its own digital signature to it and this is what you call a Signed driver.
What is a Signed Driver?
Because of the time required to get WHQL Certification, many hardware manufacturers have started their own validation and compatibility tests and includes a Digital Signature of their own in the driver installer. When you download such signed drivers, the signature is recognized by Windows. But if the company name does not feature in the Publisher list in Windows then it gives a warning that the Digital signature cannot be verified or publisher cannot be verified. The decision to install the driver in your computer or not is yours. If you are sure that the it came in a CD or USB provided along with your hardware or you have downloaded it from your authentic original hardware manufacturer website then go ahead and install that driver.
How to find WHQL Certified Drivers?
WHQL Certified drivers are available on your hardware manufacturer websites. You could end up wasting a lot of time searching for them. I recommend you use an Automatic Driver Download Tool that will download only WHQL Certified Drivers where ever available. The best part about driver download tools is that they have inbuilt machine intelligence that detects all your hardware inside your computer and those that are connect to your PC externally and recognize the hardware manufacturer, make and model numbers and Automatically locate, download and install the latest updated drivers in a few minutes saving you the difficult task of finding the model number or each hardware in your PC or latpop most of which is inside your PC cabinet. You don’t have to search the internet and waste time anymore for drivers. I have been using it for updating my computer drivers almost every month because reputed hardware manufacturers release new drivers regularly to introduce new features to old hardware and also to fix bugs reported by other users.