How to backup and Restore Device Drivers using command Prompt

These days, Windows 11/10 operating systems comes pre-loaded with almost all essential system drivers. You may also download and install the missing drivers by visiting their manufacturer’s website. But, what if, you have downloaded a particular driver and want to stick to it? Well, in that case, you must create a backup of your important drivers and restore them whenever the need arises. This post presents an easy approach to backup device drivers using Command Prompt on Windows 11/10.

backup and Restore Device Drivers using command Prompt

Why backing up device drivers is important?

If you are planning to clean install the operating system on your PC, backing up the device drivers is the most important thing. This is done so as to prevent hardware malfunctioning in the absence of an essential driver. You may note down all the drivers’ names and download/install them manually after the Windows 11/10 reloads as well. However, we suggest going for the first method i.e. backing up device drivers. 

Backing up device drivers also becomes a necessity if the manufacturers have already stopped offering new updates. This is where you may find backing up your system drivers an important thing to do. Apart from backing up these drivers, we will also look at methods to restore them whenever required. 

How to Backup Device drivers on Windows 11/10?

You may copy/paste the device drivers folders and place them in your external hard drive (preferably) or simply the non-root drive. Or, simply use the Command Prompt to create a backup of all system drivers. To do so, follow these easy steps – 

Step-1: First of all, you need to create a folder where you can store this backup. Though we recommend using an external hard drive, you may use “D:” or “E:” drives as well. 

  • Press Win + E to launch File Explorer and navigate to the following –

This PC > Disk Drive (D or E) 

  • Make a right-click anywhere on the blank area and choose New > Folder.
  • Rename this folder to something “DriverBackup“.

Create New folder

Step-2: Launch Command Prompt having Administrative privileges and run the following DISM code.

DISM /online /export-driver /destination:D:\DriverBackup

  • Do press the Enter key to start executing the above command.

backup and Restore Device Drivers using command prompt

  • The system immediately starts backing up the drivers available at C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore.
  • While doing so, DISM will create a backup of only .inf drivers leaving aside the drivers with .exe or .msi extensions. 

Drivers backup folder

Note: In the above path, D:\DriverBackup implies the location where you want to back up the device drivers. In case you have created this folder in some other disk drives, replace D:\ with the appropriate ones.

Restore device drivers in Windows 11/10

Just like creating driver backup, restoring it is also pretty simple and easy to perform. Here’s how to perform this task –

1] Using Command Prompt

  • Press WinKey + R to launch the Run dialog.
  • Type “CMD” in the text field and press Enter.
  • When the UAC window comes into the display, hit Yes.
  • On the elevated console, copy/paste the below code, and hit Enter

 DISM /online /Add-Driver /Driver:D:\DriverBackup /Recurse

  • The system should retrieve back all of the backed device drivers at D:\DriverBackup.

There is a possibility that the above code won’t work and return an error message which reads the following –

error: 50 “This command can only be used with an Offline image.”

If that’s the case, manually restore drivers using the Device Manager.

2] Via Device Manager

In general, performing a clean installation of Windows 11/10 will reinstall almost all essential drivers leaving aside a few ones. You may install the remaining ones following the below guideline –

  • Make a right-click on the Windows icon and select Device Manager
  • Now, expand each one of the device categories and see whether it contains any driver or not. Windows OS usually highlights such sections by naming them an unknown device. 
  • If you find such a result, do the right-click, and choose to Update Driver option.
  • Subsequently, click the “Browse my computer for driver software” option.

Browse my computer

  • Browse to the driver’s backup folder, click the sub-folders there, and press the Next button.
  • Wait for the driver to install correctly. Repeat this for all those sections that contain an unknown device.
  • Lastly, close Device Manager and Restart Windows so that installed drivers start working from the next login.

If you find the above procedure tedious, read how to install Device Drivers via Optional Updates. However, by doing so you simply can’t get back the network adapter or older drivers that are no longer supported by Windows 11 or 10 OS.

Soni Aryan

Soni Aryan

Soni Kumari is a tech enthusiast known for her expertise in how-to type topics and Windows troubleshooting articles. She loves exploring how to do things or tweaks in Android, iPhone, and other operating systems.