Saturday, May 16, 2009

How To Easily Remove Old Drivers from Windows

I am a cleanup junkie. On my computer, I have the usual motley of cleaners, uninstallers and update managers installed. I thought my system was squeaky clean and safe as a house until I ran into some conflict issues. The culprit it turned out was an old sound driver.

Old hardware drivers are remnants of upgrades and un-installations. Like forgotten landmines, they often return to cause performance hiccups and driver clashes.

Normally, these old hardware drivers remain hidden as the Device Manager displays only the active devices. Using a special command, it is possible to force them into view. What is easy and neat about the whole thing is that the old devices appear grayed out – sighting and uninstalling them is just a matter of a keystroke.

So here is the short and easy method to prevent your computer from being bombed out by old driver leftovers. The process is the same for Windows XP and Vista.

  1. Open Command prompt window in the administrator mode.
    • From Start – All Programs – Accessories – Command Prompt – right click and Select Run as… - Administrator.


    • Alternatively, Start – Run – Type cmd – press Ctrl+Shift +Enter to run as administrator.


  2. Now type (or copy-paste) the following command in the window and press Enter.

    This forces the invisible old drivers to reveal themselves in the device manager.

  4. Now, we have to bring up the Device Manager. Type this command in the following line and press Enter
  5. devmgmt.msc


  6. In the Device Manager, go to View – enable Show hidden devices.
  7. The Device Manager now lists out all devices which are active and which are not. The inactive devices appear grayed out.


  8. From the list, right click on the inactive device you wish to remove and select Uninstall to remove the driver.


In three minutes you have detected and demolished the old device drivers which were stealthily creating problems for your system. Hopefully, your system is back to its squeaky clean state. Mine certainly is.

If you liked this how-to, then you can check out this post on backing up hardware drivers too.

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