The quality of a PC depends on the sum of its parts, including the software used to control many of its components. These software are called drivers – they allow Windows to communicate and control different parts of your PC, translating instructions into suitable code that the hardware itself can understand.
These drivers are updated from time to time with bug fixes and feature updates that can improve the overall stability of your Windows PC. Unfortunately, like any man-made code, driver updates can be just as problematic as the drivers they replace. You will need to know how to roll back a driver in Windows 10 if an update is causing you problems.
Why should you roll back a driver in Windows 10?
New driver updates are quite common, especially for devices such as video cards. They often contain new features and fixes that can improve the overall stability of your PC and improve the usability of the devices they control.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that all drivers you install are stable. For example, if you’ve played with an NVIDIA graphics card, you can start by updating your NVIDIA graphics drivers to an unverified driver in beta testing, providing support for your newly released next generation game.
This driver may provide support for this game, but may have additional issues that can only be resolved through further, broader testing. However, this does not mean that stable drivers are better – they can also contain problems or bugs that the developer was unable to detect or fix before the driver was released.
If this happens, and your computer is still stable enough to boot, you can roll back the driver to a previously installed (and hopefully more stable) version of the driver.
How to backup Windows 10 drivers
You need to make sure you have a system to back up your drivers. This will help you if you need to roll back a device driver to an earlier version, as you will have a copy of the older device drivers available.
Windows usually does not remove old drivers, even if you roll back to an older version. However, backing up Windows 10 drivers can help you quickly restore those drivers if you have to erase and reinstall Windows later.
If this happens, you will need these older drivers if you intend to revert to using an older driver rather than a more problematic newer version of the driver. Fortunately, you can create a quick backup of your installed device drivers using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool.
- To use the DISM tool to back up your drivers, you will need to open a Windows PowerShell window with administrator privileges. To do this, right-click the Windows Start menu and select the Windows PowerShell (Admin) option.
- In the PowerShell window, enter DISM / online / export-driver / destination: C: Drivers, replacing the C: Drivers folder with another suitable location for backing up drivers. All available third-party drivers will be copied to this folder, allowing you to restore them later.
- However, if you want to back up the complete set of available Windows drivers, you will need to do it manually. Windows 10 stores drivers in the C: Windows System32 DriverStore folder. To back up this folder, open Windows Explorer and navigate to C: Windows System32.
- Right-click the DriverStore folder and click Copy, or select it and press Ctrl + C on your keyboard.
- After copying the DriverStore folder, paste its contents into a suitable backup folder (for example, C: Drivers). This will allow you to manually restore them later.
- If you need to reinstall these drivers in the future, you can install them all at once using the PnPUtil tool. In a PowerShell window with administrator rights, enter PnPutil / add-driver “C: Drivers *. Inf “/ subdirs / install / reboot. This will install all drivers in this folder and restart the computer to complete the process.
How to Roll Back Driver Software in Windows 10
If you need to rollback a driver on Windows 10, you can do so using the Windows Device Manager. Device Manager lists all discovered devices and connected hardware, allowing you to install, update, or roll back drivers for each device.
- To access Device Manager, right-click the Windows Start menu and click the Device Manager option.
- The Device Manager menu categorizes all connected equipment. Click the arrow next to any of these categories to view a complete list of equipment.
- To roll back a driver, right-click any of the listed devices and select Properties.
- On the Driver tab of the Properties window, click the Roll Back Driver button. This will allow you to start rolling back the installed driver to the previous version.
- Windows will ask you to confirm why you are rolling back the driver. Please select a reason from one of the selected options – feel free to add an additional comment in the Tell me more field. When ready, click the Yes button.
Once you confirm why you are rolling back the driver, Windows will automatically start the process. You may need to restart your computer after completing this process to completely reload the old driver and make sure your computer is working properly.
- If you want to revert to a newer version of the driver later, return to the Device Manager window, right-click the driver and click Properties. On the Driver tab of the Properties window, click the Update Driver button.
- In the Update Drivers window, click the Automatically Search for Updated Driver Software button. This will search your PC and Windows Update for a newer driver. If your rolled back driver is older than the most recently released driver, it should update your driver to a newer version.
- Windows will confirm the installation of the new driver – click Close to confirm and close the Update Drivers window.
Effective System Maintenance in Windows 10
Knowing how to roll back a driver in Windows 10 is just one of the necessary steps to ensure you know how to stay on top of your Windows 10 PC system maintenance. You can go further by setting up automatic Windows backups, which will give you you the ability to restore your computer if something goes wrong in the future.
While you may need to roll back your drivers from time to time, don’t be afraid to check for regular driver updates and keep them up to date. Driver problems should be unusual and new drivers should improve the stability of your PC overall. After all, if something goes wrong, you can always rollback your driver.