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Solved: Removing useless drivers in XP Pro SP3

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by morland, Apr 4, 2010.

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  1. morland

    morland Thread Starter

    Aug 7, 2007

    Before doing a fresh installation, I want to backup my drivers.

    I went into the Device manager and upon selecting 'View Hidden Devices' get a lot of drivers displayed that are otherwise not visible in the normal view of the Device Manager.

    Can someone kindly guide what is the best way/tool (free or shareware) to remove the useless drivers.

  2. TheOutcaste


    Aug 7, 2007
    They aren't useless. They are hidden because they are needed. Many are for components that are part of the Motherboard
    The only useless drivers are for hardware that is no longer present in the system.
    These will appear with a faded Icon. There are some necessary drivers that also show with a faded icon, so other than duplicates, you should only remove drivers for hardware you have actually removed from the system, like an upgrade for a video, sound, or network card.

    To show devices that are no longer present in Device Manager:

    Go to Control Panel | System
    Click the Advanced tab, then click the Environment Variables button
    Under the System variables section, click the New button.
    In the Variable name: box type DevMgr_Show_NonPresent_Devices
    In the Variable value: box type 1
    Click OK, then click OK again on the Environment Variables window
    In Device Manager, Click View | Show hidden devices

    Any duplicate drivers, and drivers for devices not connected (USB Flash etc), will show up as "ghost" icons. Note that there are several items under Sound, video and game controllers that are normal to show as a "ghost" icon, such as Microsoft Kernel devices. Don't remove them unless they are duplicated.
    Under Network Adapters there will also be a RAS Async Adapter and possibly a Microsoft TV/Video Connection item, you can leave unless they are duplicated, in which case remove both.

    External USB drives, Flash drives, and memory cards that are not connected will show as ghost devices under Disk Drives. Removing these entries won't hurt anything, but if you've assigned a specific drive letter to these devices, you'll have to re-assign the drive letter again. You may want to make sure those devices you use frequently are connected.

    These ghost drivers also show if you boot to Safe Mode and check the Device Manager.
  3. morland

    morland Thread Starter

    Aug 7, 2007
    Thank you so much. Am grateful for your very useful reply which has answered many questions and most importantly has helped me to end up in a mess i.e. removing drivers which i thought were useless.

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