There are a couple of reasons why knowing how to backup and restore drivers in Windows 10 can come in really handy. For instance, you may want to re-install Windows or upgrade your hard drive to an SSD. It’s also just plain good practice to backup drivers once in a while.
Manually Back Up Drivers Using ‘DriverStore’
To manually backup driver files in Window 10 is to simply copy the DriverStore folder. This folder is located in C:\Windows\System32 (assuming the C: drive is your system drive).
Use File Explorer and navigate to C:\Windows\System32 folder, locate the DriverStore folder, and then right-click it to Copy it.
After that, navigate to a backup location (a USB stick or external drive is a good idea), and then right-click the storage location and select Paste.
Keep in mind that the DriverStore folder can be large (several GB), so it is a good idea to right-click it first and select Properties to see the size. That way you can make sure there is enough space available in the backup location.
Manually Back Up Drivers Using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management Tool (DISM)
Another method to manually backup drivers in Windows 10 is to use the DISM tool. This will make a backup of all third-party drivers. Windows will install any directly supported devices automatically from the installation location, or from the Windows Update service. So getting a copy of only the installed third party drivers can make sense.
For this driver backup method, you will need to start the Windows PowerShell with administrator rights.
Right-click the Windows Start button, and in the Start menu, click Windows PowerShell (Admin).
This will open a new PowerShell window (similar to a command window). You will first be prompted by the User Account Control to confirm starting the PowerShell with admin rights. Click the Yes button to confirm.
In this PowerShell windows, type the command -> DISM / Online /Export-Driver /Destination:C:\DriverBackup
C:\DriverBackup in this example is the destination location for the driver backup files. You can change this to the backup location for your drivers. Make sure it is an existing, valid path, or the command will not work.
Press Enter after typing the command, and then wait for the operation to complete. This can take a bit, depending on the number of drivers and the speed of your destination location.
Once the command completes it will show a message stating “The operation completed successfully.”
After that, you can type Exit and press Enter to close the PowerShell.
How to Install Drivers from a Backup in Windows 10
To install drivers from a back up to a Windows 10 installation, you need to load all the driver packages back into the driver repository. Once there, they can be used to install devices that match those drivers.
As expected there is an option to add drivers using the DISM tool that was described earlier to create a back up. The limitation of that however, is that you can only add drivers to a Windows Image file using this method. Not to a live Windows installation.
So the tool to use to install drivers from a driver backup location into Windows 10 is called PnPutil. This is a command line tool to perform actions on driver packages, and it is included in all Windows versions, starting with Windows Vista.
Open a Command prompt with administrator rights (right click the command prompt icon and in the popup menu, select Run as administrator). Confirm the UAC message by clicking Yes.
Now type the following command -> PnPutil /add-driver “C:\DriverBackup\*.inf” /subdirs /install /reboot
Again, change the C:\DriverBackup path to where your driver backup is located. The /reboot is not required, but recommended since driver installation often requires a reboot to complete. You can also manually reboot the computer afterwards of course.
The /subdirs parameter will ensure that all subfolders are also included for available driver INF files, while the /install parameter ensures that any devices that are compatible with the added drivers get installed in the process.
After pressing Enter, the command will start adding the driver packages from the specified backup location back into the driver store.
Although in most cases installing drivers from a backup into Windows 10 using this method will work, be aware that you have no control over the sequence of the driver installation. In many cases it is recommended to install the chipset drivers before any of the other drivers.
If that is a cause for things to fail, you might want to install some drivers manually first. Simply right-click the INF file and in the popup menu, select Install.
You will again be prompted by the User Account Control to confirm. Simply click Yes to continue.
Sometimes, you may not get any message whether a driver installation is successful or not. Just reboot your computer and check the Device Manager to see if the newly installed driver is active for the device it is intended.
How to Automatically Backup and Restore Drivers
Are the above steps getting a bit too technical for you? No problem because you can simply use DriverFinder (free version!) to backup and restore drivers in less than 60 seconds!
- Click here to download and install DriverFinder on your Windows 10 computer.
- On the left side, click Backup Drivers.
- If you want to back up a single driver, scroll to find that driver and click the Backup button beside it. To back up ALL your windows 10 drivers, click Backup All.
That’s it! In the process above, backing up the 135 drivers in my Windows 10 system took just 56 seconds!
So now that you’ve backed up your drivers using DriverFinder… where are the backups?!? Glad you asked :)
On the left-side of DriverFinder, click Settings. Here you’ll find where the driver backups are located.
You can keep your driver backups here or you can copy or move them to another storage device (e.g., CD, DVD, USB, etc.)
Now, if you ever need to restore a driver, simply click Restore Drivers on the left side of DriverFinder.
Select the driver you want to restore and then click Restore. Simple.