Updated for MS Windows 10 – How To ‘Really’ Remove Unused Print Drivers From Your Windows XP/7/8/10 PC or Tablet
Updated on August 18, 2015 for the Windows 10 Operating System
One of the perils of being an evaluator of office-imaging solutions is that, gradually, your PC becomes bogged down with the detritus of software that is left over from previous evaluations. The question is, at what point does this detritus downgrade the performance of your test PC enough so that it affects the performance of the product that you’re trying to review?
There are several ways around this. You can use virtual PCs, which is great if you have the time and resources. You can use a “mule” PC that is dedicated to evaluations and nothing else. You can set system restore points, and restore your system to the point that it was before you began the evaluation. Unfortunately, the aforementioned solutions require that you have spare time and spare PCs, something that I have found to be an absolute luxury throughout my career. Nine times out of 10, I’ve found that you’re resigned to the fact that you have to run tests and write reports as quickly as possible using the same PC. Under these conditions, you become quite good at maintaining the performance of said PC through persistent and diligent maintenance.
Sure, you can uninstall all of the software when you have finished evaluating it. Afterwards, you can edit your program menu to get rid of unnecessary Startup items. You can delete orphan folders from your “Program Files” folder. You can scan/edit/clean the Microsoft Windows registry. Nevertheless, that’s not quite good enough and there eventually comes a time when you have to go the extra mile to really remove unneeded software from your system so that it doesn’t degrade your PC’s performance when used as a test unit (or as a word processor for that matter).
One of the biggest offenders is print drivers, which most cleanup programs are loathe to touch. You may be thinking “Print drivers—how can they affect my PC’s performance” Let me count the ways. I have seen PCs with so many print drivers installed on them that evaluators (not me of course) make mistakes during the evaluation process and waste time and prints sending jobs to wrong or non-existent printers. I’ve seen PCs with print jobs lined up in print queues for non-existent or non-connected printers. I’ve spent many hours (days?) cleaning up bosses’ and/or road warrior PCs that have so many print drivers installed on them that they cannot print once they return to the office. I’ve had instances where the existence of an older PostScript print driver has compromised exhaustive testing by corrupting the performance of a newer PostScript printer.
So what’s the big deal? Can’t I simply go into the Printer Folder and delete the offending printer? The answer is “Yes you can.” However, this method only removes the printer icon from your Printer Folder (XP)/Devices and Printers (Windows 7 and 8)–it doesn’t actually remove the print driver software from your system, which eventually leads to PC performance issues.
First Things First
If you have just bought a new printer/AiO/MFP and are ready to install it, you should make sure that unistall any printers/AiOs/MFPs that you no longer wish to use. Locate the software installed during the initial printer/AiO/MFP installation program and look for and select the uninstall icon. If you cannot locate an uninstall icon, you must go into the Control Panel and use Add or Remove Programs (XP) or Programs/Uninstall a program (Windows 7 and 8) in order to uninstall the software suite. Following these steps usually does the trick and removes all of the software, including the print drivers. You will also find that uninstalling any unused software suites can provide a noticeable boost to performance. This is especially true with AiOs and MFPs.
Now, double check whether the printer is removed from the Printer/Devices and Printers folder. If it is not, follow the steps below. We also recommend that even if the icon has been removed, you should double check to see if the actual printer software has truly been removed using the “Print Server Properties” methodologies described below.