Sometimes when changing devices, or when remove from system damaged devices and replace with new devices, old, unused drivers remain on system.

Is there any way to remove unused drivers?

  • Can you give a more concrete example of exactly what your problem is, specifically? Your question is extremely vague
    – taltamir
    Feb 8, 2016 at 19:08
  • ok, I had a NVidia graphic adapter , this device is damaged , and I have replaced with a ATI graphic adapter. How can I remove the unused NVidia driver that is remained installed on my system ? ( This is just an example , the purpose of the question is general )
    – alex
    Feb 8, 2016 at 19:18
  • The nvidia / ATI drivers example is actually NOT at all a general one, because GPU drivers are unique compared to all other drivers.
    – taltamir
    Feb 8, 2016 at 19:23
  • Drivers don't always take up a lot of disk space nor conflict with each other. Are you more concerned about the software programs that come with these devices? Those can take up a lot of space. Is that what you are referring to?
    – CharlieRB
    Feb 8, 2016 at 20:53
  • thewindowsclub.com/…
    – Moab
    Feb 8, 2016 at 21:45

4 Answers 4


Up to Windows 7, you can view non-present devices in Device Manager by starting it like this, from an (elevated) command prompt:

set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
start %windir%\system32\devmgmt.msc

Starting from Windows 8, this switch is no longer required.

After starting Device Manager, select “Show hidden devices” from the “View” menu. Before uninstall, do check the properties window of devices you’re going to uninstall whether they’re really non-present devices.

  • 1
    +1 for native methods without the use of additional software
    – shrmn
    Feb 9, 2016 at 6:35
  • Additionally, when uninstalling the devices, Windows will confirm you if you want to remove them - and on the confirmation box, there is a checkbox to also delete the drivers for that device. Devices that use built-in drivers don't show the checkbox.
    – evilspoons
    Aug 6, 2021 at 5:39
  • Device manager can only remove installed drivers. If you have "unused" drivers, they are most probably not installed and just lingering in the driver store. Device manager won't even display them as hidden devices. Mar 27, 2022 at 7:08

You can remove the old drivers with the inbox tool pnputil.exe

  • run pnputil -e > C:\drivers.txt

    enter image description here

  • open the file drivers.txt and look which .inf file is associated with the driver you want to remove

  • run pnputil.exe -d oem<NUMBER>.inf

This removes the driver correctly. If this is too complicated, you can use the tool DriverStore Explorer [RAPR]

enter image description here

Click on enumerate, select the driver and click on Delete Package.

  • It might be noteworthy that this can(?) remove important drivers that you’d expect to be available, like the USB Mass Storage or HID drivers.
    – Daniel B
    Feb 9, 2016 at 11:10
  • pnputil can only remove installed drivers. If you have "unused" drivers, they are most probably not installed and just lingering in the driver store. pnputil won't find them. Mar 27, 2022 at 7:07

There is no reason to delete drivers. Windows comes preinstalled with tens of thousands of different drivers to ensure that anything you put in just works. The process of removing them is quite involved.

However, many times when you manually install a "driver" you actually are installing an entire software suite. The example you gave of an nvidia "driver" is one such case. Those you might want to get rid of for various reasons, the process for that is quite simple, you just perform an "uninstallation".

  1. Click the start button
  2. Click control panel
  3. Click "uninstall a program" (found under "Programs" heading)
  4. Find the "driver" software suite in question, select it, and then click on uninstall
  5. follow uninstallation instructions
  6. Reboot your PC

If for some reason this uninstalling it doesn't work, download the latest version of nvidia driver suite and tell it to perform a "clean install". this will purge your system of all broken old nvidia components and fix the installation. When it is done restart the PC and then perform an uninstall.


Another good one, maybe the best, is Device remover, Device Remover

look for it here: http://web.archive.org/web/20151024093958/http://www.pro-it-education.de:80/software/deviceremover

My Best Regards

  • Wow, that is really nice.
    – bgmCoder
    Apr 12, 2019 at 14:06

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