Drivers in Windows are very easy to uninstall. If the driver came as part of an installed software package (typically for printers and scanners and so on), then the easiest way is to remove the program and all its components from the Windows Control Panel (click ‘Start’ then ‘Control Panel’ and then ‘add or remove programs’). This is a way of thoroughly removing all traces of the software and drivers.
The other way to go about uninstalling Windows drivers is to bring up the device manager (if you don’t know where this is then click on ‘Start’, click ‘Control Panel’, click ‘Performance and Maintenance’ and finally ‘System’. In the new window you’ll see a tab called ‘Hardware’ and the Device Manager is there). You can bring up the window you need by double clicking on the device whose driver you need to uninstall. You will get a ‘properties’ window with a tab marked ‘driver’. There’s a button marked ‘uninstall’. Just click it to uninstall the driver.
It’s sometimes worth uninstalling the driver if you are having problems. If the driver you have uninstalled was part of the ‘plug and play’ protocol in windows NT or XP, then all you need to do is reboot or restart your PC and windows will search out the hardware and reinstall the driver automatically. If the driver you are using is Plug and Play then it will say so in the driver window from where you perform the uninstall. Plug and Play in Windows XP works for things like keyboard, mouse, monitor and basic modem, graphics and sound cards.
Often you will want to use the driver written by the maker of the hardware you’ve installed. In this case you should have found a more up to date version of the driver on the internet or have a copy on a disc before you uninstall. If you think the driver is at fault and don’t have a copy, find one first – this can be done on the internet once you know the make and model of your device. There are also programs available that help you identify all your drivers and therefore help you find the replacements or updates.
The other reason for uninstalling your driver is if you are installing a driver manually rather than using an executable file (see the article on ‘installing windows drivers’),. In this case it’s usually a good idea to remove the old driver before the install to prevent clashes. In this case you need to do so from the device manager as described above.
So, if you have the backup that came with the hardware, have found one from a reliable source on the internet or are happy to rely upon plug and play technology (which is very good for many purposes), then there is no real risk in uninstalling windows drivers.