Completely delete bad drivers from Windows, in 4 steps (all versions)

Drivers are critical because without them you cannot fully use your Windows computers and devices. However, some drivers can be too old and incompatible with your version of Windows, or new and insufficiently tested. To get rid of errors, crashes and Blue Screens of Death, you need to remove the faulty driver that is causing problems. The procedure for doing that is not straightforward, and we explain it in this tutorial:

NOTE: This guide applies to Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1.

If Windows is crashing with a Blue Screen of Death, do this first. Otherwise, go to the next step!

Bad drivers may cause Windows to crash with a Blue Screen of Death, and you can no longer log in and use your computer. If that is the case for your, before moving forward with this guide, you need to boot into safe mode. These guides help you do that:

After you have entered Safe Mode, follow the next steps in this guide.

Step 1. Open the Device Manager

Open the Device Manager. A quick way to do that is to search for the words "device manager" and click or tap the appropriate search results. Another is to open the Control Panel and go to Hardware and Sound, and then click the Device Manager link.

There are other methods too, all described in this tutorial: 8 ways to open the Device Manager in Windows (all versions)

Step 2. Find the device or the hardware component with the faulty driver

The Device Manager shows a list of all the hardware components that are inside your computer or connected to it. It also includes emulated hardware by the apps that you have installed. They are organized by type. Browse the list of hardware and find the component with the faulty driver that is causing you trouble.

Step 3. Access the properties of the hardware component with the faulty driver

Right-click or press-and-hold (on a touchscreen) the name of the component with the problematic driver. In the menu that opens, choose Properties.

Another method to achieve the same result is to click or tap on the component and then press ALT+ENTER on your keyboard.

Alternatively, click the component, and then open the Action menu, and choose Properties.

Step 4. Delete the faulty driver from Windows

Now you see a window with the properties of the hardware component that you selected. To completely remove its driver, go to the Driver tab and click or tap "Uninstall Device."

Make sure that you check the box that says: "Delete the driver software for this device." Then, click or tap Uninstall. If you do not check the box we mentioned, Windows does not completely delete the driver for that device, it keeps its files on the disk and uses them the next time it detects that hardware component.

The faulty driver is now deleted, and the hardware component is gone from the Device Manager. You should be able to resume using your computer without the problems that you had.

The faulty driver is deleted. What is next?

If the faulty driver was delivered through Windows Update, the chances are that it will be installed again, automatically, by Windows. You can hide that faulty driver update and block it from ever installing, using this tutorial: Use the Show or Hide Updates tool to block unwanted Windows 10 updates, including drivers. If you manually installed the faulty driver, then you should not install it again, and find a different version that works well.

Which driver for which component caused you problems?

We had problems with faulty drivers for video cards and wireless network cards, which caused crashes and instability. NVIDIA drivers were especially bad at times. What about you? Which driver for which component caused you troubles? Comment below and let's share our stories with each other.