Monday, March 10, 2008

Reducing a Printer Driver from 80MB to 9MB

Ok, so how many times has this happened to you? You just got a freshly formatted computer, and you need to print something, but it has no printers on it. No problem, you check to find your nearest printer (I’m in a client’s office today) and then download the driver right?

Ok, so the nearest printer to me happens to be an HP OfficeJet L7780 all in one. Now I don’t need the scanner or other features accessable from my computer, I just need to print. So I go to HP’s website to download the printer driver. I know that they will try to give me an installer with scanner software, etc. on it, but I just need a printer driver.

I get here pretty quick with a little searching:

I choose Windows XP ‘cause that’s what I’m using. And finally I get here:

Now it has a few options. There is a full feature software and driver. No doubt that includes the scanner software and more that I already said I don’t want. It comes in at a whopping 314MB. Good thing I don’t need all of that. Let’s see what else? There is a CD ordering option. Two software removal utilites. A wireless configuration utility. A Basic feature software/driver at 68MB (still too big to be what I want) and a Basic Features software/driver 'for IT professional use only' at 43.39MB (oh, BTW the IT pro only is at version 7, where as the others are at version 8.0.1 AND it was updated 2 months prior to the 8.x versions.) Nice eh?

Well I go for the one for IT pros anyway (hey I’m a pro right?) even though it is a full version older. I like the idea of it being over 20MB smaller, and the new software is probably just for the scanner.

Ok after the rather long download across an overburdened wireless network I get my .exe file. Double clicking it expands to a new folder with my drivers in it. That folder is a whopping 80MB with 280 files and 26 folders. Wow that’s some printer driver.

I decided I couldn’t stand it and had to dissect the driver installer and see what extra stuff I could eliminate. Once I eliminated anything that wasn’t needed, this is what I finally had:

The 80MB folder with 280 files and 26 folders is now 9MB with 7 files and 0 folders. Yes that’s right.

Now let’s see what I kept. One of the space savings was eliminating languages I didn’t need, so I go rid of several .cab files for foreign languages and just kept for English. This eliminated a few MB but wasn't too significant.

I also kept the .cat file which provides the driver signature. Without this the driver will still install but you’ll get a nasty warning from windows that the file could be malicious and asking if you are absolutely certain you want to install it.

The other files you see there have necessary driver installation information.

All the other files I eliminated, I didn't need. A lot of them were HP's picture viewing software, scanner software, OCR software, etc. Like I said, I just needed to print!

Doesn't seem like too much to ask they make just the printer driver available to download, at least for "IT Professionals." Oh well, I saved it on our workgroup file server for everyone else to use as needed.

Hope this helps you streamline your printer drivers.