Your drivers act as intermediaries between the hardware they come with and the rest of your system. While you’ll never have to open and change settings in drivers like you do with most programs, they are essential to your computer’s proper operation. You need drivers to make your hardware work correctly, but sometimes you’ll have reasons to uninstall them – just be sure you’re ready with updated drivers unless you’re removing the hardware from your system.
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Why Should I Uninstall a Driver?
If your components are working well and your system isn’t experiencing issues, there’s usually no need to uninstall a driver. However, there are two situations where you may want to consider completely uninstalling it instead of updating it.
- Drivers Out of Use: If you remove a device from your system and won’t need to use it anymore, the drivers won’t be doing any functional work. Removing them at that point is an okay way to clean up your system, free a little space, and guarantee that they won’t create conflicts with other drivers in the future.
However, depending on your circumstances, it may not be the best choice. Windows can use older copies of drivers to help you manage your devices when a newer version isn’t working correctly.
- Corrupted Drivers: When you’re troubleshooting and think a faulty driver is the cause of your problems, removing it lets you do a clean reinstallation. Sometimes installing new drivers doesn’t fix the issues with the old drivers unless they’re completely removed from your system.
While updating alone is fine if everything is working, removing the old driver to install a new one might actually be the superior choice if you think the old driver is corrupt.
Managing drivers isn’t something you have to do regularly. For the most part, keeping your drivers updated is the only real task. However, knowing how to uninstall a driver can come in handy at clutch moments – like when something isn’t working right, and you’re trying to fix it.
How to Uninstall Drivers on Windows?
You can remove some drivers through the Add or Remove programs function. Others will require removal from the Device Manager utility.
Add or Remove Programs
The Add or Remove programs function should be the first stop for any software you want to remove from your computer.
- Press the Windows key.
- Type in Add or Remove.
- Click the Add or Remove Programs entry that appears.
- Search or scroll through the list to try to locate your driver. If you find it, Click the Entry.
- Press Uninstall.
- Follow the prompts to complete the driver removal.
The steps will vary depending on what driver you’re uninstalling. Many programs – including drivers – come with a utility that will pop up and guide you through the removal process at this point.
Device Manager is a Windows utility that manages the hardware on your computer. You can use it to update and roll back drivers and remove them from your system.
- Press the Windows Key + X.
- Choose Device Manager.
- Expand the list of devices that match the one with the drivers you want to uninstall.
- Right-Click the one you want to remove.
- Choose Uninstall Device.
- Click the Uninstall Driver Software for This Device box.
- Click Uninstall.
Remember that removing drivers will likely stop the associated devices from working. You should never remove them unless you’re ready to remove the device or have the new drivers ready.
You can also remove old drivers with Disk Cleanup. This won’t help with the ones you’re currently using but will take things you don’t need away from your computer. Remember that many people prefer keeping old drivers so they can roll back when needed.
- Press the Windows Key + R.
cleanmgrand then press Enter.
- Choose the drive where your operating system is installed.
- Click OK.
- Choose Clean Up System Files.
- Check to ensure Device Driver Packages is selected. If it isn’t, select it.
- Press OK.
When you’ve done this, you won’t be able to roll back your drivers anymore. While drivers can add up and take up gigabytes of space, removing them isn’t always the best choice. Consider whether you’ll want to roll one back in the future and whether it will be more difficult to manually find and install the old driver.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Does Windows Store My Drivers?
Windows keeps its drivers on the path
C:\Windows\System32\Drivers folder or
C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore folder. They aren’t files you want to interact with directly. Use Windows utilities to remove drivers as described above.
What if I Remove a Driver, and Now Something Isn’t Responding?
In this case, you can use your remaining resources to install the correct driver. If you can’t use the PC effectively – if, for example, you removed your GPU driver without a new one or onboard graphics – try forcing your computer to restart. Windows may search for and install a workable driver automatically during the process.
Do I Need to Do Anything Before Removing Drivers?
Prepare to remove drivers with caution. Create restore points and backup any files you might need before you start. Uninstalling a device or removing its only drivers will stop it from functioning in most, if not all, cases. Since you are interacting with system files, it’s essential to have a backup ready if something goes wrong.
Are My Onboard Drivers Good?
The onboard drivers might be the best ones, but they also might not be. Companies often update their drivers after products are already in stores – and you want to use the most updated versions, even if they don’t come with your product in the box. If you’re planning to uninstall a driver, make sure you know the latest version in case you need to download the new one to make your hardware work.
Will Reinstalling Windows Remove My Drivers?
Drivers that don’t come bundled with Windows will have to be reinstalled in the way you first installed them if you do a clean installation. If you only roll back your computer, the drivers present when the restore point was saved will still be there. However, it’s always good to create a new restore point before you use one, just in case it doesn’t work right.