Driver Store Explorer: Surgically Delete Old And Unnecessary Drivers In Windows

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Drive space isn't as big a concern as it used to be, but if you're sporting an SSD as a main drive and it's on the smaller side, every megabyte counts. Once you've squared away the low-hanging fruit, you'll always come back to Windows itself. Usually, there isn't much you can delete from the operating system folders, however, with some finesse and the right tools, you can banish old, bit-hungry drivers.

Introduced back with Windows Vista, the Driver Store is described by Microsoft as a "trusted collection of inbox and third-party driver packages" that "the operating system maintains in a secure location on the local hard disk". Not a bad idea, really, but Windows never trims this location down so if you have an OS install that's lasted years, this directory can get pretty hefty.

For instance, mine is sitting at over nine gigabytes. If you want to see for yourself, check out C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore (replacing C:\ with your Windows install drive).

Now, deleting this path wholesale is asking for trouble, but you can selectively remove drivers you know are unnecessary. All you need to do is grab a new tool called the Driver Store Explorer from GitHub.

The utility has a few different uses, but the main one is driver deletion. Be warned: removing drivers can bust your Windows install, so don't go annihilating things unless you know exactly what you're doing!

One easy win is killing old NVIDIA driver versions. Each can take anywhere from 200 to 400 megabytes and they're pretty safe to remove. If this is all you do, you should be able to free up a sizeable portion of space, depending on how many drivers you've used and the age of your Windows install.

Even if you don't delete anything, it's interesting to see what's sitting in the Driver Store, so feel free to have a poke around.

Driver Store Explorer [GitHub, via gHacks]


Comments

    As an early adopter I've been running a 60GB SSD for years on Windows 7 and 10. Haven't had trouble managing it and currently have 20GB free space.
    The trick is to simply re-map your quick access drives (documents/pictures/videos etc) to another drive and never install anything on it that doesn't have to be there. On my Windows 7 install I moved the whole users directory onto d:/
    If you're so short on space that you're considering deleting 400MB worth of possibly critical system files you need to seriously rethink how you're managing your files.

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