Question

Q: SECDRV.SYS Not Loading in Windows 10; this will break thousands of older games.

Hello,

I have discovered an unfortunate problem with Windows 10.

Many games from the early-mid 2000's used Macrovision's SafeDisc (version 2) as a means of copy protection. At game startup, Windows loaded SECDRV.SYS to verify an original game disc was in the drive, after which the game would start.

When you try to run ANY game which uses this SafeDisc form of copy protection in Windows 10, the following happens:

 - You get an error window that tells you to log in with Administrator Privileges and to try again. This happens on any account, even those with Administrator access. The game fails to start.

 - If you then set "Run as Admin" compatibility mode on the game's startup file, the message disappears, but the game doesn't start.

 - Keeping a window open for C:\WINDOWS\SYSWOW64\DRIVERS shows SECDRV.SYS appearing at the moment you try to start the game. Based on its size, it appears to be the file that is present on the game disc (tested across several games), even though I see no disc activity and cannot find the file elsewhere on my system.

 - The Windows event log shows that SECDRV.SYS failed to load.


 - This happens both with an upgraded install (Windows 8.1 > Windows 10) and with a fresh Windows 10 install, with one of the games being installed immediately upon the fresh install completing.

 - On my Windows 64-bit 8.1 system, C:\WINDOWS\WINSXS has a folder called amd64_macrovision-protection-safedisc_31bf3856ad364e35_6.3.9600.16384_none_4e6b3758913c9240 with a SECDRV.SYS in it, presumably the one that ships with Windows. Windows 10 had such a folder in early builds, but it is missing from the release build. It appears SafeDisc support is missing entirely.

OTHER TESTING I HAVE DONE:

 - I updated one of the games to a version that no longer required the CD check, and it started immediately and ran perfectly once the check was removed. However, this is possible only with a very limited number of games, or resorting to fixes that violate the game's EULA or put the user's system security at risk.

 - I tried disabling driver signature verification and installing one of the games again; same problem.

 - Multiple compatibility modes; same problem. XP (Service Pack 3) mode and / or Run as Administrator mode make the error message go away, but the games still fail to launch.

SIGNIFICANCE:

Unless this is fixed in Windows 10, a massive catalog of older games will cease to function in Windows 10 for the simple reason that they cannot pass the SafeDisc copy protection check. I am accustomed to some games breaking with every new version of Windows as technology progresses (for example, the loss of the ability to run 16-bit programs in 64-bit Windows), but this seems to be an unnecessarily harsh change.



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For anyone curious, Medieval 2 Total War does not work on Windows 10 because of this issue, but for some reason, the Kingdoms expansion pack does.

Since the kingdoms.exe is used for most mods, and not the medieval2.exe, the game can run perfectly fine. In fact, the "Grand Campaign" of the medieval2.exe exists as a mod called "Bare Geomod" by Gigantus.

This game somehow scrapes through, but earlier games in the series are not so lucky. Users will be forced to install dreaded Steam, should they wish to play them.

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Dear reecew37,

please know that you can redeem a fully functional copy of Medieval 2 Gold and / or Rome 1 Gold on Steam,

by activating your legacy retail key via Steam. This became possible due to the Gamespy bancruptcy and shutdown of their services.

Medieval 2 and Rome 1 Gold releases will work under Windows 10, with a minor exception for Rome 1 Gold.

You can find a workaround elaborated by HazardHawk and written down here:

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=469123565

Cheers,

Karl (better known as "al Qamar" within the TW Community)

P. S follow me on TWCenter.net or Steam for more interesting technical stuff around your TW games.

certs: MCSA Server 2008, MCSA 2022, MCITP Hyper-V

community dedications: Acronis MVP, Total War Praetorian, Total War Center: Best Technical Poster 2015.

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A workaround is to copy secdrv.sys from a windows 8 / 8.1 machine, self sign the driver, and enter into testsigning boot mode.

You can do this manually or use 3rd party programs to do it.

First copy secdrv.sys from a windows 8 machine to c:\windows\system32\drivers.  You can also download it here.  Same file as the one I got from a vanilla windows 8.1 install v 4.3.86.0 md5 3ea8a16169c26afbeb544e0e48421186

Then self sign the driver.  You can use a program Driver Signature Enforcement Overrider to do this: http://www.ngohq.com/?page=dseo

Or read about doing it yourself here.  You will also need to make the certificate.

Then enable TESTSIGNING boot mode by opening an admin command prompt and typing: bcdedit -set testsigning on

Now safedisc games should work.

You will get an annoying watermark in testsigning mode.  You can remove it using this program.  Or read about removing it manually here.

I tested secdrv.sys and the above programs in Windows 10 Pro x64 and confirms that it does work.

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Thanks for all the good information and full references.

Is there any reason I can't use the secdrv.sys from the windows.old folder and save the hassle of signing et all?

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I found the old windows secdrv.sys files x 2 how can I get them to operate ? when I try to open them a list of aps open in a box open with ? do I use note pad or desk top ? sorry to sound dumb I just do not want to damage the o/s

Also if its in the old windows file I fail to see how Microsoft did not migrate it to windows 10 its been suggested it could be due to keeping the o/s secure ? begs the question if was such a risk before why didn't Microsoft sort this on windows 7 and 8 etc

Come on Microsoft why still no help with this ? Poor Poor  customer suport

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Okay, well, just seeing some responses to this post, I think this isn't quite suitable for the whole target audience of this thread, so let's hope a better solution comes up.

Nevertheless, thanks Adam, for pointing me in that direction.

Let me just add a little bit of warning for anyone doing this, just make sure to sign the driver with a certificate that only you have (you generated for yourself). To prevent any other drivers besides the SECDRV.sys version you signed from installing on your system. This might be harder than downloading a tool and running it (unless the tool clearly states it is generating new certificates just for you and gives you the option to keep them for yourself after installing them on the computer so noone else can sign anything with them).

For those interested, the full scoop (background info and how to do it manually) is under the topic Driver Signing on the Windows Hardware Dev Center website, with the process mentioned by Adam under the topic Signing Drivers during Development and Test.

I read here that this might require BitLocker and Secure Boot to be disabled or suspended on the computer. That may be fine for some people and not for others - I wouldn't mind doing that on my desktop, but I don't like that on my tablet at all. Can anyone confirm this is actually necessary or not?

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You can use the file secdrv.sys from old windows.  You can right click the file and go to properties, details to see that it is version 4.3.86.0.  It has been this version since 2007 I think.  

You dont open the file, you copy it to the folder I mentioned above.  (Where it was removed by Microsoft)

Adrian

I dont know how to avoid the test signing.

Eric.  I agree this wouldnt target everyone.  I wish such a solution existed.  I think we would have to rely on Microsoft for that, but I am not holding my breath.

I posted as a more conveneint solution than the F7 startup trick.

As for security, driver signing enforcement has only been around since what Vista?  If you dont download and run anything you come across without knowing what it is you should be relatively OK.

I think the enforcement was prompted by the many viruses that modified cdrom.sys and atapi.sys in XP.

So if you do disable driver signing or test sign a driver with a public cert, just be carefull what you run or install, which you should be doing anyways.

I dont think the risk is that great.  The whole issue is annoying though.  I bet they removed it on purpose to break old (good) games so they wouldnt compete with new (bad) games riddled with RMT.

Perhaps the best solution is to revert back to Windows 8.

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Mmm, yes, maybe 8.1 and 10 will just run fine side by side also after activation of the upgrade... I might try that. With VHDX boot it only costs minimal extra disk space. It does require a reboot however to play a game.

I'll be trying the test signing first - but not the coming few days - and depending how that goes might post a solution here that is copy/pasteable for most people.

I'm still running an unactivated Windows 10 on my desktop over (mostly) this issue and the bad to very bad quality and experience of the Live TV / Recording capability (let alone setup experience) of most if not all Media Center replacements like Plex (yuck, if only the idea), Kodi/XBMC and Media Portal.

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My upgraded machine from Windows 8.1 has the secdrv.sys file exactly where it should be. So it doesn't remove it in all situations.

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My upgraded machine from Windows 8.1 has the secdrv.sys file exactly where it should be. So it doesn't remove it in all situations.

Very interested to know when this does and does not happen.

4 machines updated so far, all 64-bit from Win 8.1 64-bit, and none of them have copied the drivers over ...

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Views: 142,029 Last updated: May 22, 2018 Applies to: