IT Dojo: Find and delete hidden Windows Vista and XP device drivers
June 8, 2009, 8:28am PDT | Length: 00:05:08
Sorting out device driver problems in Windows, can be a tricky. Windows Vista and XP often retain old drivers even if you upgrade or change hardware. Unfortunately, these old, and sometimes hidden, drivers can cause hardware conflicts or make your system behave erratically. Bill Detwiler shows you how to find those old drivers and root them out of your system once and for all. Once you’ve watched this IT Dojo video, you can find a link to the original TechRepublic article and print the tip from our IT Dojo Blog.
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ultra stubborn drivers..
if i go in and select my video codecs, theres a slew of drivers i know i wouldnt even want to touch..the only ones that i want remaining are microsoft video 1, divx, and ffdshow, i was able to determine this by selecting various codecs and running them through my screen recording program. the issue is if i hit remove and then refresh my device list, no matter which codec i remove they reinstate themselves instantly
there are also audio codecs but i cant really do a good side by side comparison of those as i dont have any way to select or configure those codecs from within an audio based program.
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Bill Detwiler: Sorting out device driver problems in Windows can be a tricky. Windows Vista and XP often retain old drivers even if you upgrade or change hardware. Unfortunately, these old, and sometimes hidden, drivers can cause hardware conflicts or make your system behave erratically -- even if you're no longer using them.
I'm Bill Detwiler, and in this IT Dojo video, I'll show you how to find those old drivers and root them out of your system once and for all.
Manually locating all the devices drivers on a Windows system can be a challenging task. Fortunately, in the Windows Device Manager, there is a feature you can enable that allows you to locate and remove old and unused drivers.
Now, before I get to the steps, let me add one caveat. In this video, I'm using steps specifically designed for Windows Vista. But the general process will also work in Windows XP. For example, the way I describe opening the System Properties window in Vista is slightly different than the process you would use in XP.
With that warning out of the way, let's get to the steps.
In order to configure Device Manager to display non-present devices, you will need to add a special Windows Environment Variable, which is basically a string that contains a system property such as a drive, path, or file name.
To add the variable that we need, access the Start menu, right-click on Computer, and select the Properties command. When you see the System window, select the Advanced System Settings link. Dismiss the UAC message, and when the System Properties dialog box appears, click the Environment Variables button.
When you see the Environment Variables dialog box, you'll see that it contains two panels titled User Variables and System Variables. Environment variables added to the User Variables panel will be available only when that user logs on. Environment variables added to the System Variables panel will be available to all users. To avoid limiting ourselves to one user account, we'll add the new environment variable to the System Variables panel.
So, click the New button and when New System Variable dialog box appears, type:
in the Variable Name text box and type 1 in the Variable Value text box.
Click OK to close the New System Variable dialog box and then again to close the Environment Variables dialog box.
To view the non-present devices, access the Start menu, right-click on Computer, and select Manage. When the Computer Management window appears, select Device Manager. Once Device Manager is active, pull down the View menu and select Show Hidden Devices.
Now, when you open the various branches within the Device Manager tree, you see device icons that appear translucent or faded. These are the non-present devices.
To remove the device drivers for any of the non-present devices, simply right-click on the faded icon and select the Uninstall command. Once you are done, close Device Manager and just for good measure, restart your system.
I hope this tip helps you get to the bottom of some nagging driver issues. Have you had other problems related to drivers in Windows Vista? Let us know if there's tip or tweak you're looking for in the IT Dojo blog, and we'll see if we can find a solution.
And as always, for more teachings on your path to becoming an IT Ninja, visit itdojo.techrepublic.com. And please let us know if this tip was helpful.
You can also submit your favorite IT Ninja tips by e-mailing them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we use them for an episode of IT Dojo, we'll send you a TechRepublic coffee mug.
I'm Bill Detwiler. Thanks for visiting TechRepublic's IT Dojo.