Rolling Back Drivers

First off I would like to say, running Windows updates is a good thing, you want to keep your system up to date and protected from attacks.  However there is a gray area when it comes to Windows updates, and that is hardware drivers.  Usually when you run Windows updates you should pay attention as it not only checks for software updates, but also hardware driver updates.  This seems like a good thing, however I am a little suspicious of them as I have seen devices break from the driver updates.  This is very common when it comes to  video and network adapters.  The problem happens as Windows puts out a driver update for another company’s device.  This doesn’t always go over well, and usually causes more problems than it fixes.  My rule of thumb when it comes to hardware drivers is, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.  Normally I only install hardware drivers updates from Windows Update if I am having trouble with the device.

But sometimes they get installed and do end up breaking the hardware adapter.  In fact I just helped a user with this very issue today.  Now when this happens, don’t get too worried there is an easy fix for this.  Windows has built in the ability to roll back the device driver to the previous version, hence fixing it.  I have some quick instructions below on how to do this, if you run into this problem.

  1. Right click on the My Computer icon on the desktop, or the Computer icon in the Start Menu and select Properties.
  2. If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7 select the Advanced System Settings option, if you are running Windows XP skip to the next step.
  3. Select the Hardware tab, and then click on the Device Manager option.
  4. This will open a window showing you all the installed devices.  If you have one with this problem it will show up with a red or yellow mark on it.
  5. Right click on it and select Properties, go to the Driver tab.
  6. There is an option here called Roll Back Driver, you should be able to hit it and roll back the driver.  If it is grayed out, that means there hasn’t been a driver update and this isn’t your problem.
  7. After rolling back the driver, the system may want to restart, go ahead and let it.

Hopefully this will fix your problem, if not you can also do the above steps, but this time choose to uninstall the device, then reboot your computer and let it re-install.  If that doesn’t work your problem is a little bigger than a driver problem.

So as you go forth and update Windows, keep a wary eye out when it wants to update your hardware drivers.  The update may not actually be a good thing, and can lead to problems.