How To How to perform a CLEAN install of your video card drivers.

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Updated 9-19-19


How to do a CLEAN install of your graphics card drivers using the Wagnard tools Display Driver Uninstaller

A major issue on many systems is the presence of multiple graphics card drivers or drivers that have been incompletely uninstalled followed by the installation of newer drivers that can result in rogue registry entries and other issues. Many users upgrading from older cards or integrated graphics that use older driver versions by the same OEM, meaning Nvidia or AMD based, often assume it will be a bang, bang process. Sometimes it is if they've kept up with keeping the drivers current but more often it is not.

Choosing the clean install option in the actual driver installation may not be the answer either as some files, folders or registry settings are left intact, rather than being completely removed as when done with the DDU, so I recommend instead using the DDU to ensure a complete removal of the existing installation AND settings.

It's also often not enough to simply install the drivers that came on disk with the graphics card or to just find and download current drivers. In many cases the system has seen repeated driver updates, partial or damaged driver installations or the installation of multiple architectures/generations in addition to a variety of different "tweaking" utilities, all of which may have left behind varying levels of registry entries and system file versions that are likely to cause complications with the installation or implementation of new drivers.

This can have a wide variety of results including no problems at all, refusal of the new drivers to even install or anything in between as well as driver and resource conflicts and poor performance. It's imperative that you start with a clean slate by removing ALL previous graphics drivers for that architecture or platform that might interfere with the transition to the new drivers. Making sure you are trying to install drivers INTENDED for use with your GPU model or Windows version is extremely important as well.

There has been a high level of success resolving these kinds of issues by doing the following.

First, it's a good idea to make sure that you have the latest stable motherboard BIOS version installed. There are plenty of tutorials and guides on how to to find and update the BIOS for most motherboards available on Youtube or your motherboard manufacturers product support pages.

Next, download, but do not yet install, the drivers that are appropriate for your graphics card and operating system from the Nvidia or AMD website. It is recommended that you do this now, before running the Display driver uninstaller so you will not have to go find the drivers later when it may not be convenient or is actually difficult since without the full driver suite installed you may be on an undesirable resolution making browsing or searching for the proper files a real pain.

(It would also be a good idea to skip down a few lines to the link for the Wagnard tools Display driver uninstaller and go ahead and get that downloaded before going any further as well.)

Nvidia graphics drivers

AMD graphics drivers

Now, before proceeding you need to restart Windows in safe mode.

Click here for instructions on how to boot Windows 10 into safe mode.

Now that you're in safe mode, click on the executable file and run Wagnard tools "Display driver uninstaller" which I highly recommend and is fully endorsed by many top level tech websites including Guru 3D and Tom's Hardware. Choose the type of driver to target. In this case, graphics. The utility offers the choice of also targeting audio drivers as well.

Next, choose the option from the drop box that applies to your platform, AMD, Nvidia or Intel, depending on what was previously installed and needs to be eradicated. You will also need to select whether to remove Audio or Graphics drivers, as the Display driver uninstaller has recently added the option for complete removal of audio driver frameworks for a number of different audio chipsets and codecs.

If you have had more than one type of graphics card installed, for example, you previously had an AMD card and now you have an Nvidia card, you will want to go through this process twice BEFORE you install the latest drivers for your current card. Once for the old card, whichever type you had before, and after you are done with that, restart again in safe mode and run it a second time for the current card drivers, after which you will restart and then install the latest driver package or if having trouble with the latest package and intending to roll back to an older driver and you are running the DDU to prepare for that, then whatever older version you intend to install.

After the uninstallation process is complete and you have rebooted the system, install the new driver package you previously downloaded followed by a reboot of the system to ensure the new drivers are properly initialized. Once you've done that and are back to the desktop it's now time to give it a try and see if the problem has been corrected. Hopefully the issues you were experiencing are gone but it's not going to be the cure in EVERY case.

Using the DDU to create a clean environment is sufficient for a large majority of users but is not going to be the immaculate solution for every user and every situation. Some issues are more involved and may require a new Windows installation or further investigation to determine hardware and other driver compatibility.

It's also a good idea on AMD systems to make sure the chipset drivers are up to date which can be found here:

*AMD Chipset Drivers

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