One of the most annoying issues with windows
is when your hardware manufacturer fails to provide a proper driver for the operating system. Even when you do find the proper driver, sometimes the manufacturer releases an updated version which you then need to install on top of the older version. As if that's not enough, every version of windows from
the past 10 years or so, including server versions will retain the older driver binaries even if you upgrade or change hardware.
There is a logic behind this behavior. If, for example, you're using a removable USB disk drive, which has once been plugged in, windows
will install the appropriate driver for it. When you eject that drive, windows
retains the drivers
so that they will be ready the next time you connect the drive.
But what about replacing a video adapter? A network interface card? A printer that has been thrown away? What about working with a laptop that you once used to connect to an external device, and has not used that device
since? What happens to that driver if you never connect that device
to your computer again?
With time, your computer will gather an increasing number of unused drivers
that not only take space on your hard disk, having been still installed, they might cause problems if they are somehow enabled. In some cases they can also cause hardware conflicts. And to make things worse, when you do want to use the same device
after a long period of inactivity, even if you re-install an updated version of the driver, windows
might still use the older version of it.
So how do you remove
these old and un-used drivers? Let me show you.
By default, device
Manager will only show you the devices it's currently using.
What you need to do is to configure device
Manager to show all those non-present device
drivers, sometimes known as "phantom devices". Warning!
This document contains instructions for editing the registry. If you make any error while editing the registry, you can potentially cause windows to fail or be unable to boot, requiring you to reinstall Windows. Edit the registry at your own risk. Always back up the registry before making any changes. If you do not feel comfortable editing the registry, do not attempt these instructions. Instead, seek the help of a trained computer specialist.Method #1:
1. Go to Control Panel and double click on System. You can also right-click "Computer" on the Start menu (or on the desktop if it's shown there) and choose Properties. Note
: A faster way for opening up the System applet is to press the windows
logo key on your keyboard and then press Pause/Break at the same time.
2. Click on "Advance System Settings" link, and then click on the "Environment Variables" button.
3. In the System Variables section click on the "New" button.
4. In the New System Variable dialog box, under the Variable Name value enter devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices
(just copy the value from
here and paste it there) and give it a variable value of 1.
5. In the Environment Variables window notice how the new variable appeared in the System Variables section. Click Ok.
6. In the System Properties window click Ok.
7. Log off and log on.
8. Open device
Manager (Control Panel > System > Hardware > device
the View menu click Show Hidden Devices and notice the change.
<center style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(222, 222, 222); padding: 8px;">
</center> Method #2:
You can perform the same task by using the registry (or even create a logon script that will add the following key to the registry):
1. Open Registry Editor.
2. In Registry Editor, navigate to the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Contro l\Session Manager\Environment
3. Create the following value (DWORD): devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices
and give it a value of 1.
4. Close Registry Editor and reboot. Important Note:
Before removing the old drivers
for devices you still use, it's a good idea to find and download the driver updates to a folder on your drive - especially if they're for your networking devices.
If you know specifically which drivers
need updating you can search for new drivers
manually, but if you don't, a driver updater tool can perform an automated search and help you locate the correct downloads.
If you're specifically looking for updates for windows
Doctor also has a handy list of the top-requested Windows 7 driver updates
to get you started.
How to Remove Old Device Drivers from Vista & Windows 7 device drivers remove vista windows