Find Unnecessary Device Drivers in your Windows PC

Your Windows installation may get bloated over time with unwanted device driver packages. The driver store may accumulate drivers that aren’t required by the system — i.e., the hardware no longer exists, or another package has superseded the driver.

You can remove device drivers in Windows using several methods. But how do you find out which drivers are unnecessary for the computer? What if a device driver is currently in use by hardware? The Windows Assessment Toolkit tells that exactly.

The Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) has the “Driver Verification” feature, which can find unwanted and obsolete drivers on the computer. It also lists the driver INF file names and the corresponding device names.

Driver Verification Using Windows Assessment Toolkit

Download Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) from this Microsoft link.

In the setup screen, select Windows Assessment Toolkit. This feature also installs the “Windows Performance Toolkit” and “Windows IP over USB” tools.

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) setup screen

After installing, open “Windows Assessment Console” from the Start menu. It launches the following file:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Windows Assessment Toolkit\amd64\splashlauncher.exe

Here’s the Windows Assessment Console Dashboard.

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) - Dashboard

Click “Run Individual Assessments” and select the “Driver verification” checkbox.

(The test takes less than 5 minutes. On our systems, it completed in just over a minute.)

Click Run.

After completing the assessment, the “View Results’ or the summary page appears.

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) - Summary page

This assessment tool can find the following items:

  • Unnecessary drivers
  • Multiple drivers
  • Devices missing drivers

Unnecessary Drivers

Expand “Unnecessary drivers.”

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) - Unnecessary drivers

You’ll see the unnecessary drivers list (with the corresponding OEM##.inf file names) and the driver’s description, manufacturer, and version. This list is similar to the DISM Get-Drivers command’s output. However, the following list contains only the unwanted drivers. This tool saves the user a lot of time.

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) - List of drivers and devices

(If you’d like to backup the drivers to a folder before uninstalling them, check out the post How to Backup and Restore Device Drivers)

Select a driver from the list and see the quick notes in the right pane. As per this tool, an “unnecessary” driver is one that’s not associated with any of the available hardware devices. It could be a software or service driver. If you do not use this software/service, you might consider removing it.

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) - quick note

Uninstall each “unnecessary” driver

The command-line syntax to completely uninstall a driver package (from admin Command Prompt) is below:

pnputil /delete-driver oem##.inf /uninstall /force

(See also How to Completely Uninstall a Driver in Windows)

Editor’s note: Except for “Canon G2010” (which was offline during the assessment), none of the hardware devices exist on the computer. It was surprising to see my old HP Deskjet driver on the list. I uninstalled all the items in the list (using the PnpUtil console tool) except Canon, OneNote, TP-Link, and XPS drivers. The TP-Link Wi-Fi adapter device is not connected at the moment, but I use it once in a while.

Devices with Multiple drivers

When you update a device driver, the superseded package remains on the computer. Therefore, you may clear them as well.

(open the image in a new tab to see the contents clearly)

Check the “Current driver version” and “Driver version” in the above table. Note down the older version of the driver and uninstall it.

Alternatively, you can use Disk Cleanup and delete the obsolete “Device driver packages,” as in the article How to Delete Older Versions of Device Drivers.

delete old driver package disk cleanup

Deleting unnecessary driver packages from the driver store helps you reclaim disk space and decrease the chances of driver migration errors, especially 0xc1900101 and 0x80070002 – 0x20007 SAFE_OS phase INSTALL_DRIVERS operation, during Windows Setup.

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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded in 2005.

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