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Looking for a smart card driver for Windows 7?

Smart card driver for Windows 7

If you have a SIM card reader for SIM recovery or contacts synchronization, you may notice some weird behaviour on Windows 7.

Every time you plug in the reader, Windows begins to look for a driver:

Windows 7 is looking for a driver when a smart card is inserted

This is strange, because you have already installed the driver once; and what is stranger is that despite the fact that Windows fails to find a driver - the SIM card manager still works properly!

Screenshot of SIM Manager, editing PLMN and FPLMN on a SIM card

The explanation is very simple: Windows doesn't try to install the driver for the smart card reader, instead it attempts to install the driver for the smart card.

Take a look at your device manager, and pay attention to the names of the sections. Notice that the smart card readers are OK (highlighted with green), while the smart cards themselves are marked as "unknown" (highlighted with red). [please excuse the mess in my system, there are many items there because my computer is a testbed for all my experiments]

Device manager with smart cards and smart card readers

So, what is all this about? First of all, it is not a bug, it is a feature of Windows 7. It attempts to load a minidriver for the smart card that was plugged in (yes, a SIM card is a smart card, so Windows reacts to a newly inserted SIM card in exactly the same way).

This may be needed for some smart card applications, but it is not needed for SIM card management software (our smart card security tools don't need it either). You have two options here:

  • Ignore it and let it be. This is somewhat annoying.
  • Disable the feature, save some time and get rid of the annoyance.

How to disable smart card plug and play on Windows 7

  1. Start the group policy editor, by typing gpedit.msc in the Start menu
    Start the group policy editor in Windows 7, via the Start menu
  2. Go to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Smart Card
  3. Find "Turn on Smart Card Plug and Play service" and double-click it
    Find the smart card plug and play feature in the group policy editor of Windows 7
  4. Disable it, click OK to apply the new setting
    Disable smartcard PnP

After you reboot the system, the pop-ups that show up every time you plug in a smart card will be gone.

Another way to disable smart card plug and play on Windows 7 is to run this from the command line, with admin rights:

Reg add HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\ScPnP\ /v EnableScPnP /t REG_DWORD /d 0


Should I disable smart card plug and play?

  • If you don't disable it, the worst thing that can happen is that there is a delay before the inserted SIM card becomes readable. This happens because Windows locks access to the card, preventing the applications from reading it. After Windows fails to find a driver, the card becomes usable.
    This breaks some smart card programs, making them "believe" there is no card at all. SIM Manager was updated to take this feature of Windows 7 into account - so you can read your SIM card, its phonebook and SMS, etc
  • If you disable it, the delay is removed, thus the card can be read instantly. Note that if you use Windows built-in smart card authentication mechanism, it may not work. If "smart card authentication" rings no bells to you, it is safe to disable smart card plug and play.
    Note that this feature does not affect Dekart Logon - our own program for smart card authentication in Windows.

p.s. those of you who already have SIM Manager, stay tuned for the upcoming release, it's new feature is deleted SMS recovery for the iPhone.

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Comment from: Phate [Visitor]
PhateVery helpful, thanks!
2011-01-24 @ 06:36
Comment from: Mascotto [Visitor]
MascottoVery helpful, thanks! [2]
2011-05-10 @ 22:51
Comment from: Muzamil [Visitor] Email
MuzamilThnaz man it was very help ful
2011-06-16 @ 16:32
Comment from: Atreiu [Visitor]
AtreiuVery helpful! Thanks!
2012-06-14 @ 09:53
Comment from: GABRA [Visitor] Email
GABRAI installed smart card 2000 driver for XP to recover some deleted messages in my mobile phone sim card but when want the program (Data doctor)to scan it gives my a messge that (no sim was found) ! what shall I do

2012-07-12 @ 10:41
Comment from: Alex [Member]
AlexGabra, try to read the card with SIM Manager, you can download it from sim-reader.com
2012-07-24 @ 08:46
Comment from: gholam sakhee [Visitor]
gholam sakheegreat
2013-05-31 @ 17:52

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