How to Manually Backup Drivers in Windows 10

By far the easiest way to create a 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.

Copy DriverStore Windows 10

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.

How to Backup Drivers Using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management Tool (DISM)

Another method to 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 the option Windows PowerShell (Admin).

Start PowerShell in Windows 10

This will open a new PowerShell windows (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.

Windows 10 UAC

In this PowerShell windows, type the command:

DISM / Online /Export-Driver /Destination:C:\DriverBackup

DISM command windows 10

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.

DISM export driver success

Once the command completes it will show a message stating β€œThe 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 backup to a Windows 10 installation, you need to load all 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 backup. 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.

Admin Command Prompt

Now type the following command:

PnPutil /add-driver β€œC:\DriverBackup\*.inf” /subdirs /install /reboot

PnPutil command Windows 10

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.

PnPutil command execution

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.

Manually Install INF file

You will again be prompted by the User Account Control to confirm. Simply click Yes to continue.

Note that there might not be any further communication about the successful installation of the driver. Reboot the computer and check the Device Manager to see if the newly installed driver is active for the device it is intended.

Download DriverFinder

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