Performing a Clean Graphics Card Driver Install on Windows

Graphics cards can be a little tricky to set up. From power demands to physical space within the PC, it’s not as easy as simply buying the most powerful card and installing it without consideration. Drivers make the whole setup a little more complicated, and sometimes you’ll find yourself wanting to perform a full clean of the GPU’s drivers. While you can go through and uninstall every component of the GPU, from the drivers to the software, there’s a much easier way to make sure everything gets removed.

Before we explore how, let’s talk about why you’d might want to do a clean install of a graphics card driver. While not an action you’ll see yourself doing every day, there are several scenarios where you’ll want to consider performing a clean sweep of your GPU drivers.

For one, you might be experiencing troubles with your current drivers. Perhaps they keep crashing on you or even causing the entire PC to freeze up or BSOD. If this is happening to you, reinstalling fresh versions of the current drivers can help.

Alternatively, the new drivers may be causing issues regardless of what you do. In this case you might want to revert back to older drivers. Rolling back the drivers can work, but this will ensure a clean sweep and reinstallation of the older drivers.

Sometimes you have no problems with the drivers, but you’ve purchased a new graphics card. As such, before installing a new card into your PC, you can clean your PC of all the drivers corresponding to the old card. Then you can install on a fresh new system.

So, how do you do a fresh install of a graphics driver?

The Setup

First, make sure you have the graphics driver you want to install ready to go, even if your goal is to simply re-install the same driver. Because this method wipes everything, you’ll need a copy of the drivers you want to install in order to fully complete the process. It’s a lot easier if you have said drivers prepared so you can install them as soon as the cleaning is complete.

Once you have the drivers ready, you’re also going to need the Display Driver Uninstaller. This is the key program that makes cleaning up driver software a cinch. It supports nVidia, AMD, and Intel, so don’t worry about that.

The Clean

Once you have the drivers and Display Driver Uninstaller downloaded, restart your computer into Safe Mode. If you’re struggling with this, you can read our guide on the topic. Given that you’ll still be within the Windows operating system, however, it’s easiest to do the MSConfig method.

First, type MSConfig into the search and click the program that appears.

clean-driver-install-config

Go to the “Boot” tab. Here you’ll find a tick box for “Safe boot.” Tick this and stick with the “Minimal” option. When you click OK, the PC will prompt you to ask if you want to restart. If you want to head straight into the cleanup, accept this. Otherwise, if you have work to finish up and save, postpone it and restart the PC yourself.

clean-driver-install-boot

When you enter safe mode, find and run the Display Driver Uninstaller.

clean-driver-install-uninstaller

The Options

The dropbox at the top allows you to select the vendor of your graphics card that you currently have installed. Make sure this displays the correct graphics card vendor so it can correctly target your drivers!

The uninstall options are self-explanatory. You can uninstall and restart the computer, uninstall without restarting, and uninstall then shut down (to install a new card). Having Display Driver Uninstaller restart the computer makes it more convenient to boot back into regular Windows to install the fresh drivers, which makes it a solid choice to pick.

Below this and to the right is a button that enables Windows to install drivers. To prevent Windows Update barging into your clean driver install with drivers of its own, Display Driver Uninstaller automatically stops Windows from updating your graphics card drivers. This means you’re free to install the drivers you want rather than the ones Windows believes you want. If you’d rather keep this feature on, click this button to re-enable it again.

Once you’re ready, select the option you want to perform. Display Driver Uninstaller will sweep your PC clean of drivers and software. Once it’s complete, you’re free to install the new drivers and start again with a blank slate. Remember to reset any options you might have set for your graphics card, too.

For some users a fresh driver installation is the key to solving their problems. While doing everything by hand works, there’s nothing that beats a quick and efficient method at the click of a button.

Has a driver reinstall ever fixed computer issues for you? Let us know below.

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