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.
- Open an elevated command prompt.
- 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.
- When started, DISM will produce an output like this:
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.
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.