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Removing useless drivers in XP Pro SP3

By morland
Apr 4, 2010
  1. Hi,

    Before doing a fresh installation, I want to backup my drivers.

    I went into the Device manager and upon selecting 'View Hidden Devices' get a lot of drivers displayed that are otherwise not visible in the normal view of the Device Manager.

    Can someone kindly guide what is the best way/tool (free or shareware) to remove the useless drivers.

    Thanks
     
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Are you aware of the difference between "hidden" vs. "phantom" devices? (phantom devices are sometimes also called "ghost" devices). Make sure you know what you're seeing and doing before removing any of those drivers.

    By default, Windows Device Manager does not display (see here)
    > Driver for Hidden Devices (these include devices which use non-Plug and Play drivers. Note that doesn't mean you don't need the driver! Only that that it's a non-plug and play driver
    > Drivers fo Ghost Devices. If a plug and play device isn't connected (i.e. plugged in) Windows doesn't display its driver even though the driver is still installed. (you need to set environment variable to see them per the link i provided above)

    I'd advise you backup all the drivers so you're sure to have them all (and they don't require much backup space) i happen to use DriverMax but there are many tools available for driver backups. Also, only uninstall hidden / ghost drivers if you understand them, know what it's for and know it's not needed.
     
  3. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,322   +622

    as they have no adverse effects, why bother?
     
  4. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Not completely true.. On the one hand, Windows allocates resources for every installed driver (whether its device is connected or not). Also, during boot up, Windows also tries to start every installed driver (whether the device is connected or not).

    Still,all that said, i don't think the small tweaked performance gain is worth the grief if someone to be uninstalling things if they don't know what it is (i.e. don't uninstall a driver unless you
    > Know/understand its associated device
    > You know where to find it's driver if you discover it's still needed

    To be on the safer side, i'd also recommend only uninstalling drivers for Plug and Play devices unless one really well understands the non-Plug and Play device

    /* edit */
    Oh. and one more detail for completeness: Everytime you connect a device to your computer, Windows must look through every driver file in all driver directories on your computer (as specified by a DRIVER_PATH type environment variable) to search for a suitable driver match for a device (which also takes a small but real measure of CPU and disk access to look through everything)
     
  5. morland

    morland TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 48

    Thanks all for your posts. Have read them and have decided not to mess around with the drivers (especially given my technical skills/know-how). Appreciate your kind replies.

    Thanks.
     
  6. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Oh! While responding to another thread, i just recalled a handy tool that easily (and safely) removes all the drivers for all non-present USB storage devices from your system (e.g. for USB CD/DVDs, USB disks and flash drives and memory sticks, etc. not currently connected). You may be surprised how many driver instances collect (and sometimes you can get an instance of the same driver re-installed for each USB port you connect to!)

    By default, the DriveCleanupTool only uninstalls currently unplugged (i.e. non-present) USB storage devices. See this post for How to use the DriveCleanupTool
     
  7. morland

    morland TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 48

    Thank you (again). You have been if great help!

    Regards.
     
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