This article describes a standard procedure from removing old drivers that is applicable to Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10.  You will need to do this, if one of your newly installed drivers has failed to hit the mark in terms of functionality. The sign that you will see is a computer that keeps freezing in the middle of things. Like many computer aspects, the driver storage system needs a good clear out from time to time.

The procedure starts by opening the Start Menu. You should then click on the computer and then drill down to the properties. There is a side panel on the left, which contains an advanced systems settings tab. Click on the option for environment variables. The other way of accessing this menu is to open the control panel and type the string “environment variables”. Click on the “new” menu and then type the following string: “devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices”. This is supposed to be placed in the Variable Name text box. You should then type “1” in the variable value box. The effect of this sequence of events is that you will have set up a flag to be able to see those devices that are not used.

Managing non-present drivers

Note that the process described above will also tell you about drivers that are not present. Go back to the search dialogue at the start menu and type in the following string: “devmgmt.msc”.  Press enter and the device manager will open. Go to the view tab and choose the option to show you the hidden devices. You should then expand the various branches which you can see in the device tree. Look for faded icons, because these indicate that you have some devices which are unused. Right click on the ones you want to get rid of and then select the option to install them.

Another one that comes highly recommended is the Comodo Programs manager. The latter is known for segregating drivers in a way that is understandable to the user. You can then easily uninstall the ones that are past their last useful date.

When you upgrade to new hardware, it is also advisable to get rid of your old drivers. Normally, you will notice that the functionality of the systems has gone a bit crazy when you upgrade to the latest version of the hardware device that you are using. In this case, it may be a good idea to get rid of the old drivers, so that the system is cleared up for the new. Although, you may not be able to see those old drivers directly, the device manager software packages will be able to unmask them for you.

If you are using Windows Vista or seven then you need to use the command prompt within the administrator mode. Type the cmd command prompt in the search box. Afterwards, you should use the Ctrl+Shift+Enter combination in order to enter the administrator mode. Alternatively, you can right click on the prompt and choose the option to run as an administrator. Paste the following string: “SET DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1”. This will bring up the device manager as described in the procedure above, through which you can delete the obsolete drivers.