Backup drivers before reinstalling Windows 10 using DISM

Every time you re-install any version of Windows, you need to install drivers. This is not a problem if you have all your drivers downloaded or have disks provided by your hardware vendor. However, some users may not know where the drivers are stored, or for which hardware they exist and which are missing. You may still need to find drivers for every device you have. In Windows 10, you can create a backup of all installed drivers from a working installation of Windows using built-in tools before you re-install the operating system. You can do this without using third party tools. It can be very useful if you lost your downloaded or vendor-supplied drivers. Let's see how it can be done.


In Windows 10, you can use the DISM tool to manage drivers you have installed in the currently running operating system. It is possible to export them to a folder using DISM, then re-install Windows and install them from that folder again. Here are step-by-step instructions to do so.

  1. Open an elevated command prompt.
  2. In the command prompt running as Administrator, type or copy-paste the following command:
    dism /online /export-driver /destination:D:\MyDrivers

    Replace the "D:\MyDrivers" portion with the actual path to the folder where you will store the drivers. It can be a folder on a separate partition of your disk drive or a folder on an external drive or USB flash drive.

    The switches "/online /export-driver" tell DISM to look for drivers in the folder "C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore" of the currently running operating system.

  3. When started, DISM will produce an output like this: Windows 10 backup installed drivers with dism

That's it. Now you have a backup of drivers made with the built-in DISM tool! The next time you re-install Windows 10, you will be able to use this backup to install drivers for all your devices.

Later, you can restore them using the following command:

Dism /online /Add-Driver /Driver:D:\MyDrivers /Recurse

Tip: You can inspect installed drivers on an existing Windows installation quickly using the free tool "DriverStore Explorer [RAPR.exe]". You can grab it HERE. It will list all installed drivers with a friendly user interface. rapr

Also, when Windows is reinstalled, you can quickly add drivers back to the operating system driver store using DISM /Add-Driver switch or using this tool. The application require .NET framework 3.5. See Offline install of .NET Framework 3.5 in Windows 10 using DISM.

Note that the driver backup method supports only .inf drivers. Drivers that are installed using Windows Installer (MSI) or other driver package types (such as .exe files) are not supported.

Credits for this tip go to Ed Tittel at Windows Enterprise Desktop.

10 thoughts on “Backup drivers before reinstalling Windows 10 using DISM

  1. Thark

    Just by now for the Dummys of us. :3

    On a clean Windows 10 install will by doing this:
    dism /online /Add-Driver /Driver:D:\MyDrivers
    Add all drivers to Windows which are in this path? :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  2. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

    Added^
    Thanks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  3. Jack

    Great solution.
    Saves a lot of work.
    Thank you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Don’t mention it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  4. TB

    ‘Dism / online add-driver’ Do not work with the version of 10586.

    What version did you test?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      It should work even in Windows 8.1 Update

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  5. Ed Tittel

    Thanks for the shout-out, Sergey! After all the times I’ve cited your work, it’s nice to see things turned around the other way. Keep up the good work yourself. Best wishes, –Ed–

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      You are writing excellent articles, Ed.
      Was happy to cite you back.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  6. Thark

    Dism /online /Add-Driver /Driver:D:\MyDrivers /Recurse

    DISM /Add-Driver will only work on offline images.
    Tried out here on a new install of windows. :/
    It works only with the Tool DriverStoreExplorer to import all the driver.
    One .inf by one .. not all by once. >,>

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  7. Susan

    The “restore” cmd can only be used on an image… not to restore drivers in Windows.

    dism /online /Add-Driver /Driver:C:\Users\admin\Desktop\Scripts\AudioDrivers /Recurse

    Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
    Version: 10.0.14393.0
    Image Version: 10.0.14393.0
    Error: 50
    This command can only be used with an offline image.
    The DISM log file can be found at C:\WINDOWS\Logs\DISM\dism.log

    C:\WINDOWS\system32>

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *