How to remove old Windows drivers and free up space on your pc

Some of the drivers contained in the hard drives of computers running Windows 10 are useless and just take up space. Here's what to remove and how to do it

There is a problem that, regardless of the characteristics of the computer, most Windows users, at least once in their lives, have to deal with: the scarce space of the hard disk. A very annoying inconvenience, which also risks limiting the operation of the PC.

In fact, having few gigabytes available, is a problem that affects all devices. Especially those that mount a small hard drive. Hard drives are units that serve to store data, including system files, which allow the computer to boot up and recognize the many connected peripherals. And that's not all. The disks store documents, images, videos. They also host programs and applications and much more. Some of these files are useless for the operation of the PC and can be deleted with peace of mind.

In particular, there are two categories of data that, once removed, allow you to recover a lot of space: previous versions of updated drivers and those of devices no longer used on the computer.

How to delete old drivers

When switching to Windows 10, you will surely have heard about roll back. This is a very useful feature that lets you roll back in case you have problems with the new version of the operating system. Basically, Windows doesn't eliminate the old edition, but keeps it in the hard disk. Likewise, when the system updates the drivers of various devices, it keeps the previous ones in memory. The problem is that these files take up a lot of space. If you haven't experienced any computer malfunctions, it's useless to have them in memory.

Deleting old drivers is very simple. From the Windows 10 search menu (you'll find it in the bottom left corner) type "Disk Cleanup". Alternatively, you can also press the "Windows" + "R" key and type the following command: cleanmgr. The computer will perform an analysis of the file that you can delete. If you have several partitions, before continuing, choose the one where you would like to recover some space.

Once the process is finished, click on "Clean system files". The pc will start another time to examine which files you can delete. At this point, to remove older versions of drivers, simply select "Device driver packages" and hit "Ok".

How to delete drivers for old devices

It often happens, then, that you install a device on your computer and don't delete the drivers once you no longer use it. And when there are several devices, it becomes difficult to find the files and remove them. Again, the procedure is very simple.

There are two ways. Let's start with the first one. From the Windows search bar, type the command "cmd". Without pressing enter, right-click on "Command Prompt" and then on "Run as administrator". Now type the following character string in the next window: "SET DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1" and press enter.

Another very simple method, to view the old drivers, is to use the "Edit Account Environment Variables" function. Once opened, click on "New" and in "New variable" paste this command: devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices, while in "Variable value" enter the number 1.

Now, all the old hidden drivers will be visible. All you have to do is go into the Device Manager and delete all inactive devices. You will recognize them because they are "transparent" compared to the others. Locate the device, click on the right button and then on "Uninstall". Be careful not to delete the drivers of an active device.