Tip: Removing unused device drivers

Did you know that unless you uninstall a device driver on a Windows XP machine that it still may be sucking up valuable system resources? Here are step-by-step instructions on how you can view and remove these unnecessary devices.

When you install a device driver on a Windows XP machine, the operating system loads that driver each time the computer boots regardless of whether the device is present—unless you specifically uninstall the driver. This means that drivers from devices that you have long since removed from your system may be wasting valuable system resources.

Follow these steps to view and remove these unnecessary device drivers:

  1. Press [Windows]+[Break] to bring up the System Properties dialog box.
  2. Select the Advanced tab and click the Environment Variables button.
  3. Click the New button below the System Variables panel.
  4. In the New System Variable dialog box, type devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices in the Variable Name text box and 1 in the Variable Value text box.
  5. Click OK to return to the System Properties dialog box and then click OK again.
  6. Select the Hardware tab and click the Device Manager button.
  7. In Device Manager, go to View | Show Hidden Devices.
  8. Expand the various branches in the device tree and look for the washed out icons, which indicate unused device drivers.
  9. To remove an unused device driver, right-click the icon and select Uninstall.