A driver is computer software that allows Windows to recognize and work with the hardware in a computer. Windows itself incorporates basic drivers for things like mice and keyboards but many drivers are created by the manufacturer of the specific hardware device.
For a more detailed description of drivers and whether you should update them see here.
There are good reasons to collect and backup the drivers that are installed on your computer – if you need to reinstall Windows from scratch (e.g. after a hard drive failure) or a driver becomes corrupted, you need to reinstall the drivers – easy if you have them backed up.
You might have the original drivers on a driver CD that came with your computer but they could be years out of date – it is better to backup the current drivers as they may offer performance and compatibility improvements.
Why Not Find Drivers On The Internet? Drivers for wireless (WLAN) adapters and wired (LAN) adapters may not be included in Windows so you may not be able to use the internet to search for drivers – a catch 22 situation which would not be an issue if you had the drivers backed up.
Drivers may be available online from your computer manufacturer but these are frequently out of date. Unbranded computers are even more of an issue as you will need to find drivers from a range of different manufacturers. It can also be tough finding the right drivers for a laptop – even large manufacturers don’t always make it obvious which drivers match which model…
How To Backup Drivers
The easiest way is to use a free program like Double Driver which lets you view all the drivers installed on your system and select the ones you want to backup.
Double Driver analyzes your system and lists the most important driver details such as version, date, provider, etc. You can use Double Driver to backup the selected drivers, restore them, save a report of them to a text file or even print out a list of them.
Double Driver Features
- Portable program – doesn’t need to be installed
- Works on XP, Vista and Windows 7 (32bit or 64bit)
- Backup drivers from current Windows
- Backup drivers from non-live/non-booting Windows
- Backup drivers to structured folders, compressed (zipped) folder, and self-extracting capability
- Restore drivers from previous backup
How To Backup Drivers With Double Driver
Download the program in a zip file from the developer here. Unzip (extract) the file into a folder (by default will be called Double Driver Portable)
Run the DD.exe program from the Double Driver folder to launch Double Driver – it opens at the ‘Home’ tab
- Click the ‘Backup’ tab then the ‘Scan Current System’ button – Double Driver will scan your computer and list the drivers as shown in the example below:
Note: only drivers by third party manufacturers are selected (ticked) by default, not drivers by Microsoft. There is little point backing up Microsoft drivers as they are included in Windows so are installed automatically. However, you can fine tune the selection of drivers by clicking the arrow menu next to ‘Select’ – All includes Microsoft drivers, None and Invert let you quickly narrow or broaden the scope and can make it easier to select specific drivers.
- To backup all the selected drivers click the ‘Backup Now’ button
- Choose a destination folder to save the drivers to or accept the default location
- Choose the output type – the easiest is the default ‘Structured folder’ – leave it at that unless you really know what you’re doing
- Click the ‘OK’ button to start the backup – a confirmation message appears when finished
- Close the program and copy the Double Driver Backup folder that was created (stored in the location you chose above) to an external device for safekeeping
How To Restore Drivers With Double Driver
- Open Double Driver and click the ‘Restore’ tab
- Click the ‘Locate Backup’ button and search for your backup folder – easiest way is to click the … button next to ‘Other location’ and browse to the folder you backed it up in then press ‘OK’ button
- The Restore window now displays all the selected drivers – deselect (untick) any you don’t want to restore then press the ‘Restore Now’ button to commence the Restore process.
Other Options In Double Driver
‘Save’ tab saves the driver list to a location you choose. ‘Print’ tab prints a list of the selected driver details. ‘Clear’ tab clears the screen ready for you to begin a new operation. ‘Exit’ tab closes the program.
To backup the drivers from a non-live/non-booting Windows computer (e.g. you can access the hard drive but the PC does not power up) – in the Backup process above select the ‘Scan Other System’ button and browse to the Windows folder of the other system/hard drive.
It is a good idea to backup drivers (and take a new backup whenever you update a driver) as it can save a lot of time if you ever need to reinstall Windows.
Double Driver is free, portable and makes it very easy to backup or restore as many or as few drivers as you require – it can save hours of frustration hunting for an unknown driver.