How to Backup and Restore System Drivers

By Ronald Pacchiano | Posted October 15, 2009

Whenever I restore a PC for a friend or family member, they almost never have the original drivers or system recovery CDs that shipped with the system. All you can do is install the retail version of Windows onto the system. And it’s almost inevitable that the drivers for a least one device will be missing.

Retrieving missing drivers from a system like a Dell or an HP isn’t complicated, although different hardware configurations can make it a bit confusing. However, finding drivers for a no-name or custom-built PC can take many frustrating hours.

Manufacturers used to include the operating system, applications and device drivers all on separate CDs. These days when you purchase a new PC, most manufacturers now use automated recovery CDs that restore the system to factory specifications with minimal user intervention.

The problem with this is that if you just want to reinstall a specific driver, such as the audio or network adapter, it might not be possible. In most cases you can find the drivers on the Internet, but it’s more time consuming.

Simplified Driver Recovery


I use DriverMax, a driver management tool that updates and maintains the device drivers on a PC. Chief among its features: it backs up and restores your computer’s device drivers. You can then store these drivers on removable media, such as a USB flash drive or an external hard drive.

Should you need to reinstall your operating system, DriverMax uses this backup to restore any drivers missing from your PC. The entire process takes just a few minutes. No more recovery disks or time consuming Internet searches.

This program can also scan your system for outdated drivers, a common cause of system instabilities. This makes it easier for you to keep your system up to date, thus increasing overall system performance and reliability. Plus it can provide you with detailed reports about all the components in your computer and makes it easy to roll your system back to an earlier configuration thanks to tight integration with Windows System Restore.

Here’s a real world example of how DriverMax works. I have a Dell Inspiron 9100 that came pre-configured with Windows XP, which I upgraded to Windows Vista. After the upgrade, I checked Device Manager and discovered a couple of unknown devices. Turns out my audio adapter and modem were not recognized by Vista.

I checked the Dell Web site for updated drivers, but to my surprise, none existed. Frustrated, I installed DriverMax hoping for some assistance. DriverMax not only successfully identified my missing devices, but it also let me download the appropriate drivers. Within minutes my system was fully operational.

DriverMax came to my rescue again a few weeks later. I needed a system to evaluate Windows 7. So I reformatted the Inspiron’s hard drive and performed a fresh install of the OS. Like Vista, Windows 7 did not recognize my audio adapter and modem, but it also didn’t recognize my video adapter.

I ran a Windows update, but no luck. I remembered that I had backed up my Windows Vista drivers via DriverMax a few weeks earlier. Since both versions of the OS were 32-bit, I decided to see if my Vista drivers would resolve my issue. I installed DriverMax again and used the backed up drivers to restore my missing devices. I rebooted Windows 7 and the system was fully functional.

DriverMax made it easy to identify the unknown devices in my system and even provided me with the necessary drivers, despite the fact that they weren’t available from the manufacturer’s website.

Best of all, I used the free version of DriverMax. However, the free version of DriverMax has significant limitations. While the backup and restore capabilities are always available, the free version limits the number of daily downloads it allows. If you need to update numerous drivers, it could literally take weeks.

Fortunately, Drivermax comes in a variety of affordable license options: $10 for 30 days, $29 for one year and $39 for two years. You can use it on an unlimited number of PCs throughout the duration.

Go to Page 2 for a step-by-step guide to backing up your drivers.



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