Uninstalling and disabling drivers in Windows Server 2003's Device Manager

Occasionally you may need to update or uninstall a device driver that is no longer necessary or is not performing as expected within Windows Server 2003. Here's how to disable and uninstall device drivers.

Last week, we went over rolling back drivers in order to undo updates. Still, occasionally you may need to update or uninstall a device driver that is no longer necessary or is not performing as expected within Windows Server 2003. This tip will go through the process of uninstalling and disabling device drivers.

As you may recall, updating a device driver requires that you download a driver before starting. It is recommended that you also view the details of both the existing driver (using the Driver Details button) and the newly downloaded driver (by unzipping the driver file, locating either the .dll or .sys file, and then right-clicking one of these files and choosing Properties). You can then proceed with the Update wizard that appears on the screen.

Uninstall Driver removes the current device driver and its device from the Windows Server 2003 system altogether. This can be useful if you are troubleshooting a device problem, allowing you to uninstall and reinstall the driver.

To uninstall a device driver, complete the following steps:

  1. Open the Computer Management Console by right-clicking My Computer on the Start menu and selecting Manage.
  2. Select Device Manager in the left pane of the console. The Device Manager will then display a list of installed devices in the right pane of the console.
  3. Expand the category of the device you wish to uninstall.
  4. Right-click the device and select Properties.
  5. Select the Driver tab on the device's Properties dialog box.
  6. Click the Uninstall Driver button.
  7. A new dialog box will pop up asking you to confirm the uninstall. Click OK to proceed.
  8. Shut down the system to remove the device.

When uninstalling a device driver for plug-and-play devices, the device must be connected to the system. Windows Server 2003 manages most of these drivers dynamically.

In some cases, you may wish to determine how your system will function without a device -- perhaps one that you no longer use. You can use the steps above to remove the driver for the device and test the system without the device.

Rather than removing a device to test the system operation, you can also disable it in the Device Manager to prevent the system from trying to start the device. Follow these steps:

  1. In Device Manager, right-click the device you wish to disable.
  2. Choose Disable from the Context menu.

You can then test the system with the hardware turned off to see how it will perform. If it meets your organization's needs, you can then remove the device when it is convenient to turn off the Windows Server 2003 system.

Miss a Windows Server 2003 tip?

Check out the Windows Server 2003 archive, and catch up on the most useful tips from this newsletter.

Stay on top of the latest Windows Server 2003 tips and tricks with our free Windows Server newsletter, delivered each Wednesday. Automatically sign up today!