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.


47 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    when I go to devices and printers and highlight the printer I want to remove, I don’t have an option for print server properties, how do I get that?

  2. Daniele says:

    Since I’m like a kind of a tech guy I’m usually able to solve the most common issues under windows but yesterday I wasn’t able. This happened to me: some time ago I made install over the phone (not able to do it remotely) the driver for a brother printer. I made the lady over the phone to download the brother suite for her multi function printer and install it, since she wanted to be able to use the scan to pdf function that is available only with the brother suite and that she was previously using on the broken laptop. Everything went fine except that she called me some days ago telling me that they had to disconnect the printer and that the scan to pdf function wasn’t working anymore since then. So I went to her house and I discovered that
    I couldn’t normally remove the brother program…. the uninstall just close itself after starting. Found out that she installed and older version of the driver/program suite, A3 of 2011 vs B1 2013 version, don’t know how she downloaded the wrong version…. the new laptop has win 8.1
    I had to remove the brother suite with revo force uninstall option and then I was able to make the installation with the new version to start but the program would stuck at “insert usb etc” and wasn’t going further, not able to recognize the printer. After deleting lot of stuff, registry keys etc I still wasn’t able to make the installation going further plus windows was only able to recognize only the scanner part of the printer….
    To solve the problem I revert back to a system restore point and everything came back to normal…. but the program installed it’s still the wrong version. Not the one for win 8.1.
    Why I’m not able to remove it normally and to install the new version?

    • Terry Wirth says:

      Try using the options in Brother Utilities to repair the installation and then update the software. There’s also an uninstall option in Brother Utilities if you need to start from scratch. Before you reinstall, go into printers and devices and remove any unused print drivers (see our guide “How to REALLY Uninstall Print Drivers…” for details). Next, do not plug in the USB cable until prompted to do so by the installation program. And finally, we have been tripped up by bad USB cables and/or ports in the past and this greatly complicated matters. If she’s using a laptop, she’s better off using a wireless connection either way.

      • Daniele says:

        Unfortunately the printer is a multifunction one. But with no wireless or network options. Plain usb. The brother utilities options that you can find in windows 8 was not there…. because I suppose the suite was an older version. Anyway the uninstall program wasn’t working. It was just closing itself everytime. I’ve installed the printer on my laptop with the correct program and the printer was working correctly so I’ve tought the cable was good. Anyway now the printer is “working” so until she doesn’t call me again…. I was just looking to some solution to fix this and install the new drivers. What I also noticed back then it’s that when printing the brother status monitor would alert you with a window message saying that the printer is not connected…. but it was printing and scanning orrectly. The brother status monitor doesn’t see the printer as connected even when it is. Still thinking that’s because the lady installed an old version of program/drivers. Next time I’ll try that “really uninstall driver thing” and see if that’s fix it.

  3. nanoogeek says:

    Print Server Properties can Not be viewed if Print Spooler service is Not running. Catch22, if that service likely won’t start because a ‘printer’ entry has become invalid.

  4. Darlene says:

    Please help…I can not remove my Cannon MX882 printer from my Dell Inspiron 11 3147. I am getting a offline message from my MX882 over the last week and it will not print wirelessly from the computer. The MX882 will print and fax but not wirelessly. Thank you

    • Terry Wirth says:

      Because you said it can print, I assume that you also have it hooked up to your PC via USB? Nevertheless, go into the embedded Web server or the control panel of the printer. Make sure that the wireless IP address in the print driver (right click in devices and printers/port tab/configure port) matches that which is shown on the printer control panel in the network connection settings. There also there may be a Canon utility installed that helps you reset the IP address. Finally, some printers do not support simultaneous USB and wireless connections.

  5. Simon Brown says:

    All those drivers are still in the driver store. This article here – http://www.cio.com/article/3001691/windows/how-to-reduce-unnecessary-drivers-in-windows-10.html – may help you delete them using Microsoft’s own driver store cleanup utility. Your mileage may vary etc.

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