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Using Hardware Profiles

Windows has a feature called Hardware Profiles that lets you boot up Windows with different sets of hardware devices enabled. Profiles grew out of the need for docking laptops to be able to boot with a different set of driver settings based on whether the laptop was on the road or connected to a docking station with its own external monitor, additional CD-ROM drive, and so on. Profiles have become more capable with Plug and Play, sensing when the computer is “hot-docked” and kicking in the appropriate profile when needed. Also, for complex arrangements such as on a desktop computer stuffed to the gills with devices, it is sometimes necessary to disable some devices so that others can have access to certain limited resources such as interrupt requests (IRQs). I should add that hot-dockable ports such as USB, IEEE-1394, and PC Cards have reduced the need for hardware profiles somewhat, since their hardware can be attached and removed on-the-fly without rebooting.

In addition to allowing different combinations of hardware, Hardware Profiles allow the same hardware to be configured with different resource settings. In essence, you can have almost a different computer with each hardware profile.


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