Windows Enterprise Desktop

May 11 2015   11:57AM GMT

The Importance of DriverStore Cleanup

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Tags:
Hardware Drivers
Windows 10
Windows 7
Windows 8

I’ve blogged repeatedly here about a great little free software tool called DriverStore Explorer (RAPR.EXE). In Windows environments all the way up to and including Windows 10, any drivers that have been loaded and installed on the current Windows OS (or prior OSes that have been upgraded) reside in a directory named %windir%\System32\DriverStore. As an experiment, I’ve been cleaning up that directory on one Windows 10 installation (on my Dell Venue 11 Pro 7130) and leaving that directory alone on another installation (on my i7-4770K homebrew desktop). Upon reading an observation from one Windows 10 beta tester over on the Windows 10 Forums this morning about a Windows install over 50 GB in size (!) I found myself wondering if DriverStore might not be playing a role in that burgeoning disk consumption.

So I decided to compare the size of those two directories on my cleaned-up versus untouched versions. On the untouched version the size of that folder is a whopping 26.1 GB; on the cleaned-up version, it consumes just 1.4 GB. Here’s what those folders look like in WinDirStat, just for a quick visual comparison:

vp11-ds
i7desktop-ds

Dell above, homebrew below: you can fit the smaller box into the bigger one more than 18 times!
(I reduced pixel count by 50% on both images to better fit most WordPress displays)

In case the moral of the story isn’t already clear, especially for those who want to run Windows on a smaller SSD or hard disk, you really can recover a lot of storage space by keeping your DriverStore cleaned up. If you need further proof, following a quick cleanup with RAPR on that directory, it consumed only 1.3 GB. I found over a dozen duplicate Nvidia drivers therein, but it was the 120-plus copies of the RealTek sound chip drivers that really sucked up the space, as the subsequent reclamation of 24.8 GB of disk space unequivocally illustrates. All I can say is “Zounds!”

6  Comments on this Post

 
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  • GtheGman
    for noobs like myself, how do I know which driver I can delete and which I can't (shouldn't)?
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  • seanmx
    Hi, 

    Just went to driverstore and it says windows 7.  Do you know of anything for windows 10?
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  • GtheGman
    Nevermind. I found another article of yours with details on driverstore drivers. Thanks for that article and this Ed. :)
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  • robpag
    Hello,
    I followed the procedure of erasing older drivers from RAPR to the letter. For some strange reason, i saw the disk spake recovered from C:windows but C: still has the same amount of free space as it did, before RAPR. Where on earth did those files move to.
    Thanks,
    Roberto
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  • TheThinker1958
    check your recycling folder. maybe entire folders were move there. if everything seems to be ok, got there and delete those folders permanently.
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  • batebbateb
    i have exactly the same problem - RAPR finished its process in 2-3 seconds, 14 GB of data freed from the folder, but the free space has not changed. 
    Windows now reports 403 GB of used space.
    TreeSize says there is 417 GB of used space.
    I have cleaned the Recycle Bin, but I can't figure out where those 14 GB go.
    I have disabled the system recovery, no hibernation is enabled.
    Thanks!
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