Installing Drivers on Windows Server Core

If you’ve installed Windows 2008 R2 Server Core and need to install the network drivers, you’ll need to do that from the command line. There is no graphical interface, so you will need to prepare a little to install your drivers.

Here are the steps:

  • You’ll need admin rights to do this, so make sure you have rights
  • Copy the drivers folder from the installation media, CD/DVD or file (we’ll assume it’s the NIC card) to a folder in C, like C:\Drivers\LAN\
  • Navigate to the folder containing the INF files, and type in this command:
  • pnputil -i -a C:\Drivers\LAN\filename.inf – where filename.inf is the name of the file containing the driver
  • If you’re not sure which file it is, you can use a wildcard, like this: pnputil.exe -i -a C:\Drivers\LAN\*.inf – this will install all INF files.
  • You can also do pnputil /? to see all the options

Take a look at the screenshot below.

pnputil options

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~ by ortuno2k on 02/11/2011.

6 Responses to “Installing Drivers on Windows Server Core”

  1. Your my Hero!

  2. thank you for guidance install drivers on windows server.

  3. This is great, unfortunately it doesn’t help if the drivers come in a self executing package and give no indication of where they put the inf file.

    • Nathan,

      The best way around this is to extract the drivers on a different PC and then copy them over to the server core by using a usb flash drive or a network share.
      You can also install Winzip or Winrar on the PC and “right-click” on the EXE driver file; you should see an option to extract the contents to a folder. This is how I did it when I needed it.
      In some cases you may not be able to extract the contents of the EXE… so check the manufacturer’s website for a zipped file with the INFs.

  4. Thanks for this post. This is exactly what I was looking for and no matter how I searched, even M$, I was unable to find it! You saved my night!

  5. Hi, I have a network service I’m trying to install and it says unable to locate drivers even though they are there. I used this tip to install and says success. Where is it installing to? I can not seem to find it. Thanks for any help

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