How to Install a CAC Reader on PC

Steps to Installing Your CAC Reader on Your PC Overview

  1. Ensure your CAC Reader works for PC.
  2. Check to make sure your PC accepts the CAC reader.
  3. Update Your DOD Certificates.
  4. Verify you have the right ActivClient for your branch.

Step 1: Ensure Your CAC Reader Works for PC

This is the easiest part of the install seeing as almost all CAC readers work for PC. I’ve gone ahead and put together a list of some of the best CAC readers available. Check these out!

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Step 2: Check to make sure that your PC accepts the CAC Reader

Once you’ve received your CAC reader, the next step is to plug it in and verify your PC recognizes it. If you have selected any of the above readers, you should be good to go. Your computer may actually begin to install the appropriate drivers needed automatically. However if that doesn’t happen, follow these steps to get started:

For Windows 10 Users:

  • Right Click the Windows Logo found in the lower left-hand corner of your screen.
  • Click System, then Device Manager
  • Scroll down to where it says Smart Card Readers and click on the little triangle next to it to get started.

For Windows 7/8 Users:

  • Right Click My Computer and select Properties
  • Next select Device Manager and scroll down to Smart Card Readers
  • Select the little triangle next to it in order to get started.

After your drivers have been installed, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 3: Updating Your DOD Certificates

To access DOD websites from home, you first need to have DOD permissions certificates on your home computer. These are simple enough to acquire though.

Using InstallRoot will make this issue monumentally easy through their simple to follow wizard. You can download InstallRoot for Windows from the following links:

Once you have downloaded the program, simply run it. It will take you step-by-step on how to update your DOD certificates. After the installation, you can also verify that your DOD certs have been uploaded successfully.

This can be done by heading to your certificate management settings on your default Internet browser and checking to see if the certificates are listed.

Step 4: Verify Proper ActivClient for Your Branch of Service

After you’ve verified your DOD certificates, you next need to update your ActivClient–more specifically for your appropriate Branch of Service (if applicable).

ActivClient is a program that allows your computer to communicate with the chip on your CAC and relay that information between government websites. Making sure you have this installed is very important.

SO, you need to make sure that your ActivClient is up-to-date. Find your specific branch’s through the links below.

You Should Now Have CAC Access at Home!

But if not… There’s usually one particular reason. Your CAC card itself needs updating. Older versions of the card, do not meet the minimum requirements to access. To fix this, just head into your local PSD, and request a new CAC that does have access.

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