Recovering device drivers is ordeal; free tool offers shortcut

After wiping and reinstalling my machine using a manufacturer-provided recovery disc, I had to re-download many of the third-party device drivers I had, then add them one by one and reboot multiple times. The shareware utility Driver Magician provides a shortcut to this ordeal.

Managing the sheer number of third-party device drivers not available on the Windows install CD or on Microsoft

Update is a problem many admins face. Recently I had to wipe and reinstall my machine using a manufacturer-provided recovery disc.

In so doing, I found that many of the drivers I'd needed—such as the AGP controller driver or the drivers for the AMD chipsets—didn't come with the package. I had to download them and then add them one by one and reboot multiple times. All in all, I wasted a good deal of time.

The shareware tool Driver Magician addresses this problem by catalogging all the available device drivers in your PC, backing them up in their original form (complete with installation manifests!), and restoring or reinstalling them as well.

The full version of the tool has these features:

  • Drivers can be updated from Live Update if they are available there now or in the future.
  • Unknown devices can be detected and have detailed manufacturer information determined, so you can find the proper drivers for them.
  • Drivers can be backed up to a set of folders, a single compressed folder or a self-extracting package. There's also a fourth option for backing up the drivers to a self-installing package as well, which doesn't require the original program to run.

A freeware version of the tool, Driver Magician Lite, lets you back up drivers to a set of folders but not restore them. However, like the more complete version, it lists full information about all the found drivers, including, most importantly, whether or not they're native to Windows or if they need to be added manually. Even the freeware version proved highly useful, since I could back up all of the AMD-specific drivers in one go and keep them on a CD for safekeeping.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the  Windows Power Users Newsletter, which is devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP users and administrators. He has more than 10 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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This was first published in January 2007

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