How to Backup Windows 11 Drivers

When reinstalling Windows, especially if the drivers automatically installed by the system are not suitable or missing, it may make sense to export the currently installed drivers for later installation in the new operating system.

This tutorial details how to backup Windows 11 drivers using system tools without using third-party software, and how to install them on your computer or laptop afterwards. It may also help: How to create a full backup of Windows 11.

Backup Drivers Using DISM

The first method is to use the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) utility. You may already be familiar with it in the context of checking and restoring the integrity of system file storage, but it can also be used to export drivers.

Follow the steps below to make a Backup Windows 11 drivers via DISM:

  1. Create a folder where the drivers backup will be saved, for example C:\Drivers, you can also use an external drive.
  2. Run the command line as administrator. To do this, you can start by typing “Command Prompt” in the taskbar search, right-click on the result and select “Run as administrator”. Other ways to run command line as administrator in Windows 11
  3. Enter the command
    dism /online /export-driver /destination:C:\Drivers

    replacing C:\Drivers with the path of your folder.

  4. You will see the result of the export of the installed drivers. In your case the list will not be as short as on the screenshot, all third party device drivers will be exported.

As a result, the drivers will be saved in subfolders in the folder you specified when exporting.

It's not easy to tell from the name of the folder what is in it, but it is not necessary – later, when installing the drivers, the necessary ones will be found automatically, as described in more detail in the installation instructions section.

How to backup Windows 11 drivers with pnputil

Using the built-in pnputil.exe tool, you can also back up Windows 11 drivers as well as previous system versions. Necessary Steps:

  1. As in the previous case, create a folder to save the driver backup.
  2. Run the command line as an administrator.
  3. Use the command line
    pnputil.exe /export-driver * c:\drivers

    In this example, the driver backup will be saved to C:\Drivers

You just have to wait for the driver packages to be exported to the folder you specified.

Export drivers to PowerShell

Warning: On current versions of Windows 11 this method doesn't work for some reason, reporting an error, although Microsoft help says it should work exactly as shown below. I'll leave it here, in case the problem is solved in the future.

Using a command Windows PowerShell to export controllers:

  1. Create a folder where you plan to export the drivers.
  2. Run PowerShell as an administrator, this can be done by right-clicking the Start button and selecting “Windows Terminal (Admin)”.
  3. Enter the command
    Export-WindowsDriver -Online -Destination C:\Drivers

    changing the path of the C:\Drivers folder to the current path.

Exporting drivers if Windows 11 won't boot - In recovery environment or from a bootable flash drive

If Windows does not start, you can either run the command prompt in the recovery environment, or boot from a Windows 11 flash drive (if you press Shift+F10 in the installer, the command prompt will open) and use the following method to export controllers:

  1. At the command line, determine the system drive letter, which may not be the same as C in the current situation. To do this, use the commands in order
    diskpart list volume exit

    and search for the drive's current partition letters.

  2. Create a folder to backup the drivers, you can do this using a command like: md path_to_folder
  3. Use a command of the form
    dism /image:c:\ /export-driver /destination:d:\drivers

    where C: should be replaced with the actual drive letter of the system you want to export the drivers to, and D:\drivers should be replaced with the path to the folder created in step 2.

Install drivers from backup

In the future, when you need to install a driver for a device that is not automatically installed using a previously created backup, the following method will suffice:

  1. Open Device Manager (right-click the Start button – Device Manager).
  2. Right-click on the device you want to install a driver for and select “Update Driver” from the context menu.
  3. Select 'Browse for drivers on this computer'.
  4. Specify the path of the folder with backup drivers in the “Search for drivers in the following location” box and leave the “Include subfolders” box checked.
  5. Click "Next" to automatically search the folder for a suitable driver and install it.