Driver Cleaner doesn't leave a trace

You upgraded your video drivers, and odd behavior has crept into your system. The culprit: Older revisions may still be lurking. What to do: Make sure you clean them out.

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When you upgrade from one edition of a video driver to another, you may find that older revisions of video driver components don't always get completely removed from your system. Because of that, odd behavior may result: Some things may be all right, but others may not work at all. Certain display modes may not be supported, or some special functions of the video card (such as video capture or TV-out functions) might not work as expected.

Driver Cleaner is a program that helps alleviate this problem. When you run Driver Cleaner, it cleans out all traces of a video driver -- .SYS files (the actual driver itself), support DLLs, language resources and anything else that is out of date that a video driver might leave scattered around a computer after being reinstalled or updated.

The program has support for removing drivers created by just about every popular video card maker, including Intel Corp., ATI Technologies Inc., nVidia Corp., Realtek, SIS, S3 Graphics Co. and Intel Corp.

The best way to run Driver Cleaner is to uninstall any support applications for a given video card, boot into Safe Mode, uninstall the video adapter from Device Manager (don't reboot!) and then run Driver Cleaner. This ensures that the cleaning process only runs when there is no driver actually installed. On the next reboot, the system will use whatever default or generic driver is available until the user installs his own choice of video driver. The program logs all of its own actions. You can set it to back up any changes made to the Registry (which also gets cleaned as part of its actions) and is also self-updating.

Driver Cleaner comes with a tool called Cab Cleaner. This tool cleans third-party hardware drivers from the DRIVER.CAB file, which keeps Windows from mistakenly reinstalling third-party files from its driver cache after they've been cleaned.

One final note: cleaning DRIVER.CAB requires at least 400 MB of free space.


Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!


This was first published in July 2005

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