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Changed motherboard - cleaning leftover drivers

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October 8, 2010 6:30:02 PM

I've tried this in the "Drivers" section under WinXP, but got no replies in a week. I think that section must be more about just finding and downloading drivers, so maybe this is a more appropriate place to try.
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Does anyone know how to clean out all of the old drivers on a machine that has had a new motherboard and CPU installed? I know the best solution is to format and start again, but unfortunately, that isn't an option, and the computer is running fine, just very slowly.

Obviously, I can select to "Uninstall" each device from device manager, but that doesn't actually uninstall anything, it just removes the entry from device manager itself. If I did it that way, I would still be left with hundreds of inappropriate driver files and registry entries on the machine. Driver Sweeper is no good, because it only caters for add-in cards from a handful of big brands and this machine has no cards, everything is on-board.

I've done plenty of googling, but everything I find seems to be focused on getting the system up and running. As I said, the machine is working, I now just need to clean out all of the crap.

Thanks in advance for any help.
a b V Motherboard
October 8, 2010 7:41:30 PM

Ummm, try defragging your hard drive/s. from my understanding whenever you update drivers, the new ones should replace/overwrite the new ones. The only thing that could be left is the details in the registry. but if you don't know what you're messing with in the registry - things could get ugly =P

do try defragging first. this can help increase speed again.
October 10, 2010 4:29:42 PM

To my knowledge, there isn't much that can be done to remove driver entries in the registy safely, Ive tried a couple times before, and seems like lots of entries get crosslinked and removing them just corupts the driver or causes a BSOD. Athough driver entries in the registry shouldnt be the main cause of a slow computer. +1 to the defrag.

Why is a format out of the question? Im suprised it actually booted! All motherboad swaps Ive done caused BSODs.

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October 13, 2010 2:02:37 PM

Thanks for the advice to defrag, but that has already been done and made no discernable difference. I wouldn't worry too much about the speed issue, once I've fixed all the problems and got it tuned/tweaked, if it's still running more slowly than it should be, I'll start a dedicated thread for "slow computer".

I can't format because a) it's not my machine, b) it's an OEM with only a repair/recovery disk and c) if for no other reason than it would take an eternity to download and install all of the Windows updates and software.

With regard to the registry entries, that's a shame if you're right. Are you just talking about the calls to load them? If so, once the actual files are removed, will the registry entires just become "defunct"? i.e. the system will try to load the drivers at boot, fail to find them and then just give up, the only actual problem being a slow boot?

What about the files?
October 16, 2010 1:32:12 PM

So what does "Uninstall" in Device Manager actually do? Does it literally just remove the entry from device manager?

Is it's only use, to make device manager look more tidy?
a c 117 V Motherboard
a b \ Driver
October 16, 2010 3:06:56 PM

Use Driversweeper in safemode
clean and remove old video,sound,and lan drivers.
October 18, 2010 7:28:30 PM

davcon said:
Use Driversweeper in safemode
clean and remove old video,sound,and lan drivers.


Unfortunately, as I said in the original post, Driver Sweeper isn't much use.

I've got about 4 lots of VIA drivers (including video), 4 Realtek drivers (2 sound, 2 network), HDD's from Maxtor, Seagate and WD, printers from HP, the old Pentium CPU and all the remaining "generic" drivers for all the rest of the hardware (there are 50 items under "System devices"). Driver Sweeper can help clean up after the sound drivers, but what about everything else?
October 26, 2010 6:58:33 PM

Does anyone know what the "Uninstall" option in device manager does exactly?
a b V Motherboard
October 27, 2010 2:34:39 PM

It pretty much just removes whatever drivers you have for that hardware. So a working hardware won't be recognized anymore =P. If you uninstall something in the device manager it could remove the drivers from your system - but again the only way to check that is by checking your registry :E
a b V Motherboard
a b \ Driver
October 27, 2010 2:41:50 PM

You could also run a REPAIR Install from the setup.exe file on the XP disk -- (Not the first repair console option but a REPAIR INSTALL on the second set of options ) - what this does is reanalyze the system files and remove\replace all of them just like a brand new installation based on the analysis it does of the system -- It is like doing a new install but keeps all of the existing programs and settings for them and only changes the system files and drivers.
a b V Motherboard
October 27, 2010 3:32:13 PM

^ I don't think it would remove unused drivers tho. It's not exactly a "fresh install". The repair is meant to overlap (rewrite) over any corrupted OS files, or install anything that might be missing. I don't remember the repair actually "removing" drivers - it may uninstall them - but they are usually still there. I may be wrong here tho, so don't take my full word on it :) 
a b V Motherboard
a b \ Driver
October 27, 2010 4:35:05 PM

Gekko Shadow said:
^ I don't think it would remove unused drivers tho. It's not exactly a "fresh install". The repair is meant to overlap (rewrite) over any corrupted OS files, or install anything that might be missing. I don't remember the repair actually "removing" drivers - it may uninstall them - but they are usually still there. I may be wrong here tho, so don't take my full word on it :) 

I'm not really sure on that either - I always run a registry cleaner afterwards also to ensure that any unused entries are removed as well but a combination of the repair install and then a registry cleaner should clean things up !
a b V Motherboard
October 27, 2010 6:45:44 PM

^ if a registry is used, it's always a good idea to save the current registry as a backup in case you lose something vital T-T
October 29, 2010 7:22:12 PM

Gekko Shadow said:
It pretty much just removes whatever drivers you have for that hardware. So a working hardware won't be recognized anymore =P. If you uninstall something in the device manager it could remove the drivers from your system - but again the only way to check that is by checking your registry :E


When you say "removes whatever drivers you have for that hardware", do you mean the files? I've tried "uninstalling" a non-existant HID-compliant mouse, but even after a restart, the driver files are still on my HDD.

To check the registry, should I search for the device name/driver filenames, or do you mean something else?
a b V Motherboard
October 29, 2010 9:15:19 PM

What i mean is that it will "uninstall" the driver - making the hardware or device useless - it won't work - and you might end up getting a prompt about a new hardware or device detected. However, this does not DELETE the driver. The driver will still be there.

And yes you can search for the driver names (ie. dx900xx.inf) and delete them HOWEVER this is tricky and i would recommend you save a copy of the registry - or make an image of your OS in case something goes wrong.

November 1, 2010 6:23:36 PM

Gekko Shadow said:
What i mean is that it will "uninstall" the driver - making the hardware or device useless - it won't work


Well, considering I'm talking about phantom devices from a previous motherboard, they couldn't really get more useless. That's the idea (hopefully).

As regards the driver files, wouldn't they be the files that are mentioned in device manager, usually ending in .sys or .dll?
a b V Motherboard
November 9, 2010 2:27:12 PM

Sorry about that mate, been extremely busy @ work and barely have time do come into the forums.

.dll and .inf are usually driver extensions. the .sys is more local (for the windows) so i wouldn't mess with that and .dll are usually shared with other applications.

That's why you usually don't mess with the registry - unless you know exactly what file your looking at - it's a very tricky thing =P.
November 12, 2010 10:13:02 AM

Don't worry, thanks for helping me out.

I think maybe I misunderstood you, you're saying that in the registry I could delete references to the .inf files, but not the .dll or .sys files?

What about the actual files on the HDD? e.g. if I go into Device Manager and look at the driver files for the old NIC, it says Rtlnicxp.sys. Surely, I can delete that file, can't I?
a b V Motherboard
a b \ Driver
November 12, 2010 12:23:20 PM

You could but the tradeoff of losing a small amount of HDD space to unused system drivers vs. deleting a file that might be used (perhaps it is not in use now but could be set as one of the defaults for windows if booting into safe mode for example) - granted if it is a third party driver chances a small that would happen but then again the amount of HDD space those files use is minimal also ! IF you are certain that that file is not being used and is not a default file for some other program then you could delete it. but for the space saved on the HDD vs. the hassle of finding a copy and downloading it if you ever do realize you needed it - it might be easier to just leave it on the HDD. Simply having the file on your HDD will not effect performance if the system is not using it (esp. if you are defragging your HDD once in awhile) but not having it there if some rarely used program neds it can cause problems when the time comes to use that program. So best to err on the safe side and leave a bit of wasted HDD space IMHO.
a b V Motherboard
November 12, 2010 4:06:09 PM

qwerty12345 said:
Don't worry, thanks for helping me out.

I think maybe I misunderstood you, you're saying that in the registry I could delete references to the .inf files, but not the .dll or .sys files?


You can delete those files, i'm just saying they aren't files you might want to be deleting.

qwerty12345 said:
What about the actual files on the HDD? e.g. if I go into Device Manager and look at the driver files for the old NIC, it says Rtlnicxp.sys. Surely, I can delete that file, can't I?


You can try that, just make a backup of the files in case anything goes wrong. As long as you don't delete anything that's part of the windows environment then it shouldn't be a problem.
November 12, 2010 5:22:58 PM

JDFan, it's not so much about the hard drive space being wasted (probably only a few meg), it's the crashes and lowered performance that can be caused by driver conflicts and inappropriate drivers.

Returning to my attempts to remove the HID-compliant mouse, although it has gone from device manager after I selected "Uninstall", the mouhid.sys file is still in the system32 folder and if I delete it, it reappears after about 5 seconds! It makes no difference whether I delete it directly, or send it to the recycle bin. Even if the old copy is still sitting in the recycle bin, a new one appears to take it's place. It's like a virus or something.
a b V Motherboard
a b \ Driver
November 12, 2010 5:51:27 PM

I believe mouhid.sys is the mouse mapper driver and is a required core system file provided as part of the windows OS - without it the system could not interprete any mouse input and the system would not function properly. So the system is probably reinstalling a copy in order to keep the system functioning.
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