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How to Backup and Restore Drivers on Windows 10

If not for Windows, most PC users would never have known drivers also exist on their computers, not just in real life. These drivers drive information between the software and the hardware so that you can use the webcam with a click. Without drivers, your computer will never know that a webcam has been connected. The same logic applies to any hardware that you connect to your Windows PC, even a USB drive. If you’re a Windows user it makes sense to want an easy way to backup and restore drivers on Windows 10.

A small rant

Other than Windows there isn’t another operating system that bothers users about drivers and that has been the case for more than a decade. While Windows 10 does solve the problem to an extent by automatically installing drivers, that still needs an active internet connection. Even if you do have an unlimited internet data plan, the solution Microsoft has come up with isn’t ideal. The driver problem on Windows is even more frustrating when you’ve used alternatives like a Mac. Even Ubuntu and many other Linux based operating systems just work right out of the box. You can connect any hardware and it can detect it without a problem, as long as the hardware is compatible with Linux.

Windows 10 doesn’t need new features as bad as it needs to solve the basic Windows problems that have been around since forever.

Backup Drivers using Command prompt

The Command prompt is a powerful tool that ships built-in with Windows, even though most users may never find the need to use it. There is, of course, another way to do this that doesn’t involve typing commands. If you’re not comfortable with the command line you can skip this part and scroll along. But that method does involve installing a third-party tool since Windows itself doesn’t provide one. So you’ll have to make a choice, install another app just to backup drivers or use the command line. Although, all you need is one simple command so there’s not a lot that you have to do. Even if you dread using the command line this shouldn’t bother you. Neither of these methods makes it easier to restore drivers anyway.

  • When you’re ready, create a folder “Driver-Backups” on your PC anywhere on a drive other than where Windows is installed.
  • Type cmd in the Windows 10 search bar, right-click on Command prompt which appears as a search result and then select Run as administrator.
  • In the command prompt, enter the following command:
    dism /online /export-driver /destination:Drive:\path\to\Driver-Backups

    Here, Drive:\path\to\Driver-Backups has to be replaced by the actual path to the Driver-Backups folder you just created. This will be the case everywhere Drive:\path\to\Driver-Backups is mentioned in this article. For instance, if you created the folder on your E:\ drive, the command would be:

    dism /online /export-driver /destination:E:\Driver-Backups
  • Once you’ve entered the correct command, all the installed drivers will be backed up in the folder you’ve created. At the end of the process, you should see a message saying, “The operation completed successfully.” How To Backup & Restore Drivers on Windows 10

Don’t miss: How to Format USB Drive on Windows 10 Using Command Prompt

Restore Drivers

The command line can help backing up the drivers but there isn’t a lot you can do with the backups since it cannot restore them. The best way to restore the drivers would be to manually restore them using the Device Manager. In the Device Manager, right-click on any hardware you want to restore the drivers for and select Update driver.

How To Backup & Restore Drivers on Windows 10

In the new Window that appears, select Browse my computer for driver software. Next, click Browse and select the Driver-Backups folder.

How To Backup & Restore Drivers on Windows 10

Make sure you’ve checked the Include subfolders option and click Next. Windows will search the folder for the appropriate drivers and install them.

Backup and Restore Drivers using third-party tools

There are many apps available out there meant to just to solve, or at least ease the driver problem on Windows. Some of these are DriverBackUpFree Driver Backup, and Double Driver. Any of these tools will work just fine and backup all your drivers similarly to a single folder. When you need to restore drivers, it is unfortunately also is a similar process. That is, you’ll have to manually restore every driver using the device manager.

You may also like: How to Install Ubuntu on Windows 10

2 thoughts on “How to Backup and Restore Drivers on Windows 10”

  1. Hey,
    GREAT TIP!!! I use this a lot when need to reinstall OS for any of my customers. I use this content .bat from USB device and forget the trouble about the drive letter:

    If not exist “Drivers” MD “Drivers”
    dism /online /export-driver /destination:”%~dp0Drivers”
    echo Done
    ping -n 5 localhost>nul

    First line of code creates the “Drivers” folder in case doesn’t exist.
    Second line is well explained in your post.
    “Echo Done” show “Done” after the process finishes for five seconds and, then, the MSDOS automagically closes thanks to the last line of code (a ping to not visible on the screen by the “>nul” parameter).

    Also, I use this simply code in order to restore them all after install the OS:
    pnputil /add-driver “%~dp0Drivers\*.inf” /subdirs /install

    · “pnputil” is a built tool from Windows 7-10

    · “/add-driver” is the magic parameter that allow to install in bulk all the drivers from the “Driver” folder. (Yes; as you can imagine, pnputil can be used too for exporting the drivers instead DISM).

    · “%~dp0Drivers” is the path of the “Drivers” folder; no matter the letter you have. Since I use from USB device, this helps a lot to avoid reassign the drive letter in case after reinstall the OS doesn’t assign same previous letter

    · “*.inf” specifies looking for any .inf file (where the driver/instructions comes from).

    · /subdirs/install” search on any child folder for INF files and install them.

    Hope this help…

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