How to Backup and Restore Windows 10 Device Drivers

ByLance T. Lee

Apr 30, 2022

Your Windows machine needs its drivers to keep your devices running smoothly. As such, it’s always a good idea to back up your Windows drivers whether or not you need them for an urgent fix. Even if you never end up losing everything, it’s always good to have drivers handy in case a device needs to reinstall them.

Here are two easy ways to backup your Windows 10 device drivers at once and two methods to restore them from backup.

Why Backup Windows 10 Device Drivers?

If Windows 10 isn’t behaving on its own, you might want to do a clean install of Windows to clear everything and get back on track. And because it resets everything to factory defaults, you’ll need to reinstall your Windows 10 device drivers to get everything working as before.

You might just want to save a copy of your drivers because you no longer have the original installation discs, or so you can fix corrupted drivers on Windows 10 in the future. Perhaps the manufacturer’s web page for your specific hardware model is no longer online. There are many reasons to back up your device drivers. Whatever the reason, here’s how you can do it.

How to Backup Your Drivers on Windows 10

To get started, let’s explore how to back up your drivers on Windows 10. Then we can look at a few ways to restore them again.

1. How to Backup Your Windows 10 Drivers Using Command Prompt

Backing up your Windows 10 device drivers using the command prompt is simple. You will need to use DISM or PnPUtil, both of which are command line tools.

  1. Start by creating a folder in which to store your driver backups. It must be on a different drive than where your operating system is installed. (We created a folder in drive D and renamed it “DriverBackup”.)
  2. Next, open the elevated command prompt. You can do this by right-clicking on the Start menu and choosing the Command prompt (administrator) option. Note: You must be logged into Windows 10 as an administrator to do this.

    If you don’t see the Command Prompt option, click on the start menu and type “command prompt”. Right click on the Command Prompt app and click Execute as administrator.

To start backing up your drivers, use one of the command line entries listed below. Whichever one you choose, be sure to replace “D:DriverBackup” with the location of the folder you created to back up your Windows drivers. Also be sure to include the double quotes for the DISM utility method.

The following command should work on any version of Windows 10:

DISM /Online /Export-Driver /Destination:"D:DriverBackup"

If your PC is running at least Windows 10, version 1607, you can use PnPUtil instead:

pnputil /export-driver * D:DriverBackup

Whichever method you use, your Windows 10 drivers will be backed up to the specified folder.

2. How to backup Windows 10 drivers using PowerShell

You can achieve essentially the same thing with Windows PowerShell. Again, create a folder in which to save your Windows 10 drivers; then perform the following steps.

  1. Open an elevated PowerShell. To do this, right-click on the Start menu and select the Windows PowerShell (administrator) option.

    If you don’t see the option for PowerShell and you see Command Prompt instead, right-click the taskbar and select Taskbar settings. Scroll down and toggle up Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell activated.

  2. Enter the following line in PowerShell, replacing “D:DriverBackup” with your driver backup location.

Export-WindowsDriver -Online -Destination D:DriverBackup

Your Windows 10 device drivers will be backed up to the folder you specified in the PowerShell command.

How to Restore Driver Backup on Windows 10

Now that your backup is ready, here’s how to restore it in case disaster strikes.

1. How to restore specific Windows 10 drivers via Device Manager

Through Device Manager, you can install the specific drivers you want. Here’s how:

  1. Open Device Manager: right-click on the Start menu and select Device Manager.
  2. Right-click on the device for which you want to restore the driver and click on the Update driver option.

  3. Select the Browse my computer for driver software option.

  4. Navigate to the folder where you saved your Windows 10 drivers. Make sure you have the Include subfolders option checked, and click Following.

Windows Device Manager will search the folder for the most recent versions of the specific device driver and install any if available.

2. How to Restore All Windows 10 Drivers Using Command Prompt

Command Prompt is a powerful way to restore all Windows 10 device drivers at once. Here’s how:

  1. Open an elevated command prompt.
  2. Use the following command line entry. Replace “D:/DriverBackup” with the location where you stored your backed up Windows 10 drivers.

pnputil /add-driver D:DriverBackup*.inf /subdirs /install

You may need to restart your PC for the changes to take effect.

Windows 10 provides powerful tools to back up your device drivers quickly and easily. All you have to do is use a little command line code. Once backed up, you can move the drivers to any location you want, even to an external drive to keep them. Restoring your Windows 10 drivers is as easy as backing them up.

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