Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to remove old drivers from Windows. It will help your system run smoother and as a bonus, you’ll get back some storage space.
The Windows operating system stores old driver versions for current hardware and devices, as well as for devices that you’ve used in the past. If keeping previous drivers for the devices that are still in use makes sense, that’s not the case with the ones you’re not using anymore.
How to remove old drivers from Windows
Regardless, we’re going to discuss both situations, just in case you’re only interested in keeping the latest driver versions for your connected devices.
Remove old driver versions
When an existing driver gets updated, your system will still keep the old version so you’ll be able to go back to it in case you’re experiencing issues with the new one.
However, if it’s been a while since the update and everything seems to be working fine you can get rid of the outdated drivers and free up some storage space. Should you ever need them, they’re still available on the device manufacturer’s official website.
The first thing you need to do is to press Windows key + R to open Run. Enter cleanmgr in the text field and hit the OK button.
Select the system drive (C: in our case) and click “Clean up system files”. This won’t actually clean up anything, but a scan will be performed. It might take a short while so wait for it to complete. You also might need to select the drive again.
The next window lists all the types of system files that you can delete. For the purpose of our guide you will need to select “Device driver packages” but it’s worth taking a look at the rest of the items and selecting the ones that are relevant to you. Finally, click OK to clean up the selected items, including the old device drivers.
Remove drivers of previously used devices
Over time, we tend to change various devices such as the mouse, keyboard, speakers and so on. Each of them can install their own drivers which remain stored on your computer. Here’s how you can locate and remove drivers of devices you’re not using anymore.
In this case, the first thing you need to do is to reveal hidden drivers. While there are several ways to do this, we’re going to use the Command Prompt.
Click on the Start menu icon and type “cmd”. Right-click on the first result and select “Run as administrator” to open an elevated Command Prompt. Then, copy and paste the line below and hit Enter:
There will be no confirmation message but rest assured, the change has been applied. Mow you can close the Command Prompt.
With that out of the way, you can finally remove the drivers of old devices you’re not using anymore.
Click on the Start button and search “device manager”, then click on the first result.
In the Device Manager window, go to View -> Show hidden devices. This will include all the inactive devices in the list and you can tell them apart from the active ones because their icons will be grayed out.
Now you just need to right-click an inactive device and select “Uninstall device” from the context menu. Repeat for each device you want to uninstall and you’re done!