Rolling back drivers is something that no one enjoys having to do. In most cases, drivers are rolled back because an update either broke or altered the way a device functions that doesn’t improve the user’s experience.
Drivers are small bits of data used to tell the operating system how to properly communicate with a given piece of hardware. Windows 7 comes with a large library of built-in drivers that are frequently updated by Microsoft, though some companies provide individual drivers for their own devices. This is especially true with newer hardware that hasn’t been integrated into Windows via an update. USB webcams, gaming mice, specialized keyboards, and other devices that do more than just plug in and go may require custom drivers to operate properly on Windows.
When you think about it, Windows has a lot on its plate. Thousands of manufacturers make devices for the platform, and each of these devices may need to interact with one or more other devices, each of which may be one of tens of thousands of options on the market. While many devices can operate just fine off generic drivers (standardized interfaces that are supported natively by the operating system), some just can’t accomplish this.
So, when should you consider rolling back a driver? You may want to consider this action if an update has caused issues with your device. For example, a device that suddenly stops working after an update has been performed may be the victim of a bad driver upgrade. It’s hard for manufacturers to make sure device drivers will work in all cases until the update is sent out into the wild. While this can cause some amount of grief, there is a solution.
Here is what you need to do:
- Right-click on Computer in the Start menu.
- Left-click on Manage.
- Select Device Manager in the sidebar.
- Find the device you need to roll back the driver of in the list.
- Right-click the device and hit Properties.
- Select the Driver tab.
- Select Roll Back Driver.
- Agree to the statement that appears.
- You’re done.
You can only roll back a driver once. Windows 7 keeps a copy of the previous version of a given driver, but nothing before that. You can delete the current driver and replace it with an older one if you have a copy, though the chances of actually needing to do this are extremely slim.
Rolling back drivers is a drastic measure. Even though it’s relatively simple to do, the act of rolling back a driver essentially wipes out any improvements made during the last driver upgrade. This is a step that should be taken once all other troubleshooting has failed.