Windows 10’s driver support isn’t as long-lasting as many of us would like. Quite often, you’ll perform an update or reinstall only to find that a hardware device that was previously supported no longer works. When the driver is out of support, the OS won’t download it automatically. As such, it’s becoming increasingly important to perform a Windows 10 driver backup to avoid downloads from sketchy third-party sites. Thankfully, the process is relatively pain-free.

What is a Device Driver?

Drivers are groups of files or a program that controls a physical or virtual device attached to the computer. It essentially tells hardware how it should run on an operating system, and is vital for functioning.

Windows 10 has two types of drivers: generic and non-generic. Generic drivers are ones provided by Microsoft that provide basic functionality. For some devices, such as most monitors, generic drivers are all you need, but using them for hardware like a graphics card will result in significantly worse performance and potential compatibility issues.

If you find Windows is using generic drivers for a device that previously had specialized one, or that a driver is broken after an update, a restore could be your best option. We’re going to show you how to restore and backup your device drivers in Windows 10 so you have a fallback. As an added bonus, a Windows 10 driver backup will get you back on track faster if you have to reinstall your OS.

How to Backup Device Drivers in Windows 10 via Command Prompt

If you’re comfortable with command-line use, cmd is one of the fastest methods to export drivers in Windows 10.

  1. Open Command Prompt


    Press the Windows key and search for “Command Prompt”. Select the first result under ‘Best match’.

    Windows 10 - Search - Command Prompt

  2. Export your drivers


    In Command Prompt, enter dism /online /export-driver /destination:"C:\DriversBackup".

    Windows 10 - Command Prompt - dism export driver

  3. Check your Windows 10 driver backup folder


    Open File Explorer and navigate to C:\DriversBackup to confirm that everything worked as expected. At this point, you may want to copy these files to an external drive or upload them to a cloud service for safekeeping.

    Windows 10 File Explorer exported device drivers

How to Backup Drivers in Windows 10 via PowerShell

  1. Open PowerShell


    Press “Windows + X” and click on “Windows Powershell (Admin)”.

    Windows 10 - Start - Open PowerShell as Admin

  2. Export device drivers


    The command to export Windows 10 device drivers in PowerShell is:
    Export-WindowsDriver -Online -Destination "C:\DriversBackup".
    You can change the destination to whatever works for you.

    Windows 10 - PowerShell - Export-WindowsDriver

  3. Check for the files


    Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder you specified next to the -Backup argument. Make sure your drivers are there and transfer them to another drive or cloud storage if necessary.

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - exported device drivers

How to Restore a Driver in Windows 10 with Device Manager

Restoring device drivers its most user-friendly with Windows 10’s driver management tool, Device Manager.

  1. Open Device Manager


    Press Start and type “Device Manager”. Click the first result under ‘Bet match’.

    Windows 10 - Search - Device Manager

  2. Find the device you want to restore


    In the list of devices, find the ones you’d like to restore and click on it. In our case, a scanner driver.

    Windows 10 - Device Manager

  3. Open the driver update menu


    Right-click the device and choose “Update driver”.

    Windows 10 - Device Manager - Update Driver

  4. Browse for local files


    On the next screen, click “Browse my computer for driver software”.

    Windows 10 - Update Drivers - Browse my Computer For Driver Software

  5. Select your backup folder


    Tick “Include subfolder” and click “Browse…”. Click on your “DriversBackup” folder and press “OK”, then “Next”.

    Windows 10 - Device Manager - Update Drivers - Select Folder
  6. Complete the Windows 10 driver restore process


    Wait for the device drivers to install, make sure the driver name is correct, and press “Close”.

    Windows 10 - Device Manager - Update Driver - Install Drivers and Close

How to Restore a Device Driver Backup with PowerShell

  1. Open PowerShell


    Press “Windows + X” and click on “Windows PowerShell (Admin)”.

    Windows 10 - Start - Open PowerShell as Admin

  2. Run the driver restore command


    Type pnputil /add-driver "C:\DriversBackup\*.inf \subdirs \install \reboot and press “Enter”. You can replace the directory with wherever you saved your drivers.

    Windows 10 - Command Prompt - pnputil add-driver