Your Windows machine needs its drivers to keep your devices running smoothly. As such, it’s always a good idea to back up your Windows drivers, whether or not you need them for an urgent fix. Even if you never end up losing everything, it’s always good to have drivers handy in case one device needs them reinstalled.
Here are two easy ways to back up your Windows 10 device drivers in one fell swoop, and two methods to restore them from the backup.
Why Back Up Windows 10 Device Drivers?
If Windows 10 isn’t behaving itself, you may want to perform a clean install of Windows to wipe everything and get back on track. And because it puts everything back to factory defaults, you’ll need to reinstall your Windows 10 device drivers to have everything running as before.
You may simply want to save a copy of your drivers because you no longer have the original installation disks, or to be able to fix corrupted drivers on Windows 10 in the future. Maybe the manufacturer’s webpage for your specific model of hardware is no longer live. There are many reasons to back up your device drivers. Whatever the reason, here’s how you can do it.
How to Back Up Your Drivers on Windows 10
To start, let’s explore how to back up your drivers on Windows 10. Afterward, we can take a look at some ways to restore them again.
1. How to Back Up Your Windows 10 Drivers Using the Command Prompt
Backing up your Windows 10 device drivers using Command Prompt is simple. You’ll need to use either DISM or PnPUtil, both of which are command line tools.
- Start by creating a folder in which to store the backups of your drivers. This should be on a different drive than the one on which your operating system is installed. (We’ve created a folder in D drive and renamed it ‘DriverBackup.’)
- Next, open the elevated command prompt. You can do this by right-clicking on the Start menu and choosing the Command Prompt (Admin) option. Note: You must be signed in to Windows 10 as an administrator to do this.
If you don’t see the Command Prompt option, click on the Start menu and type ‘command prompt.’ Right-click on the Command Prompt app and click on Run as administrator.
To start backing up your drivers, use either of the command line inputs listed below. Whichever one you choose, be sure to replace ‘D:\DriverBackup’ with the location of the folder you created to back up your Windows drivers. Also, make sure to include the double quotation marks for the DISM utility method.
The following command should work on any version of Windows 10:
DISM /Online /Export-Driver /Destination:"D:\DriverBackup"
If your PC is running at least Windows 10, version 1607, you can use PnPUtil instead:
pnputil /export-driver * D:\DriverBackup
Whichever method you use, your Windows 10 drivers will be backed up to the specified folder.
2. How to Back Up Windows 10 Drivers Using PowerShell
You can achieve essentially the same thing with Windows PowerShell. Once again, create a folder in which to back up your Windows 10 drivers; then perform the following steps.
- Open an elevated PowerShell. To do this, right-click on the Start menu and select the Windows PowerShell (Admin) option.
If you don’t see the option for PowerShell and see Command Prompt instead, right-click on the taskbar and select Taskbar settings. Scroll down to and toggle the Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell option on.
- Enter the following line into PowerShell, replacing ‘D:\DriverBackup’ with your driver backup location.
Export-WindowsDriver -Online -Destination D:\DriverBackup
Your Windows 10 device drivers will be backed up to the folder you specified in the PowerShell command.
How to Restore a Driver Backup on Windows 10
Now that you’ve got your backup ready, here’s how to restore it when disaster strikes.
1. How to Restore Specific Windows 10 Drivers via Device Manager
Through the Device Manager, you can install the specific drivers you want. Here’s how:
- Open Device Manager: Right-click on the Start menu and select Device Manager.
Right-click on the device whose driver you want to restore and click on the Update driver option.
Select the Browse my computer for driver software option.
Browse to the folder into which you backed up your Windows 10 drivers. Make sure to have the Include subfolders option checked, and click Next.
The Windows Device Manager will search the folder for newer versions of the specific device driver and install any if available.
2. How to Restore All Windows 10 Drivers Using Command Prompt
The Command Prompt is a powerful way to restore all Windows 10 device drivers at once. Here’s how to do that:
- Open an elevated command prompt.
- Use the following command line input. Replace ‘D:/DriverBackup’ with the location you’ve stored your backed up Windows 10 drivers.
pnputil /add-driver D:\DriverBackup\*.inf /subdirs /install
You may need to restart your PC for the changes to take effect.
Windows 10 provides powerful tools to quickly and easily back up your device drivers. All you have to do is use a little command line code. Once backed up, you can move the drivers to any location you like, even to an external drive for safekeeping. Restoring your Windows 10 drivers is just as easy as backing them up.