How to Roll Back a Driver in Windows

Reverse driver updates quickly

Man using laptop on table

Raw Pixel / pxhere

 

The Roll Back Driver feature, available within Device Manager in all versions of Windows, is used to uninstall the current driver for a hardware device and then automatically install the previously installed driver.

The most common reason to use the driver roll back feature in Windows is to "reverse" a driver update that didn't go so well. Maybe it didn't fix the problem that the driver update was supposed to fix, or maybe the update actually caused a problem.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP.

How to Roll Back a Driver in Windows

Think of rolling back a driver as a quick and easy way to uninstall the latest driver, and then reinstall the previous one, all in one simple step.

The process as described below is the same no matter what driver you need to roll back, whether it be an NVIDIA video card driver, advanced mouse/keyboard driver, etc. 

Rolling back a driver in Windows usually takes less than 5 minutes, but it could take as long as 10 minutes or more depending on the driver and what hardware it's for.

  1. Open Device Manager. Doing so via Control Panel (which that link explains in detail if you need it) is probably easiest.

    If you're using Windows 10 or Windows 8, the Power User Menu, via the WIN+X key combination, gives you even faster access. See What Version of Windows Do I Have? if you're not sure which Windows operating system you're using.

    Screenshot of Device Manager in Windows 10
  2. In Device Manager, locate the device that you want to roll back the driver for.

    Navigate through the hardware categories by clicking the > or [+] icon, depending on your version of Windows. You can find the specific devices Windows recognizes under the major hardware categories you see in Device Manager.

    Screenshot of device selected in Device Manager
  3. After finding the hardware you're rolling back the driver for, tap-and-hold or right-click on the device's name or icon and choose Properties. The device's Properties window will open.

    Screenshot of Properties in device contextual menu in Device Manager
  4. Select the Driver tab.

    Screenshot of Driver tab on device Properties dialog in Device Manager
  5. Select the Roll Back Driver button.

    If the Roll Back Driver button is disabled, Windows does not have a previous driver to roll back to, so you won't be able to complete this process. See the notes at the bottom of his page for more help.

    Screenshot of Roll Back Driver button
  6. Select the Yes button to the "Are you sure you would like to roll back to the previously installed driver software?" question. You might also be asked to select a reason for rolling back the driver.

    In Windows XP, that message reads "Are you sure you would like to roll back to the previous driver?" but of course means exactly the same thing.

    Screenshot of Driver Package Rollback confirmation window
  7. The previously installed driver will now be restored. You should see the Roll Back Driver button as disabled after the rollback is complete. Close the device properties screen.

  8. Select Yes on the System Settings Change dialog box that says "Your hardware settings have changed. You must restart your computer for these changes to take effect. Do you want to restart your computer now?"

    If this message is hidden, closing the Control Panel window might help. You won't be able to close Device Manager.

    Depending on the device driver you're rolling back, it's possible that you won't need to restart your computer. If you don't see the message, consider the rollback complete.

  9. Your computer will now automatically restart.

When Windows starts again, it will load with the device driver for this hardware you had previously installed.

More About the Driver Roll Back Feature

Unfortunately, the Driver Roll Back feature is not available for printer drivers, as handy as that would be. Driver Roll Back is only available for hardware that's managed within Device Manager.

Additionally, Driver Roll Back only allows you to roll back a driver once. In other words, Windows only keeps a copy of the very last driver installed. It does not keep an archive of all the previously installed drivers for the device.

If there's no driver to roll back to, but you know there's a previous version available that you'd like to install, just "update" the driver with the older version. See How to Update Drivers in Windows if you need help doing that.