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Is there a way to give non-admin users the right to (re-)install drivers for a port-specific USB device so that they do not need an administrator login every time they plug the same device into a different port?

I have a group of engineers who need to use USB tools that are port-specific: these USB devices are keyed to the specific USB port that they have been plugged into. A simple example is a USB/serial adapter. The first time you plug it in to a USB port, it becomes COM3 (for example), and will always be COM3 when you plug it into the same USB port. Plug it into a different USB port, and it will be COM4 or COM5, and so on.

The problem comes when they have one or more USB hubs and several devices all connected up. Each time the device is plugged into a new USB port, Windows asks for install priveleges to assign a new driver instance for the new port. If I log in with admin rights, the installer simply does its business and the device works properly in the new port.

Of course, giving full install priveleges to the end users would defeat the purpose of having security in the first place. Is there a way to allow just those specific installs to go through automatically?

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This is kinda tricky in XP. The best way I can think of is to use SuperCrypt. This will create a file with the encrypted admin password, then do a "Run as" as the admin on any command you desire. You'll have to do with with the New Hardware Wizard which is: c:\Windows\system32\control.exe hdwwiz.cpl

So what will happen is the user plugs in the device, and it gives an error about needing admin access. They dismiss that and run the Supercrypt shortcut you've set up. This runs the New Hardware Wizard as administrator without asking for the admin password. It finds the device and you're good to go. Super hacky, but it should work.

Now in Windows 7 you can set a group policy to allow non-admins to install device drivers. You basically have to allow it by driver class. Here's a TechNet article on how to do this. It may be worth it to you to upgrade.

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