Your display driver acts as the bridge for communication between the software on your computer and your graphics card hardware. Software developers are constantly updating their applications, adding new features and optimizing the codebase. Occasionally, these updates might not play nice with older display drivers or cause visual artifacts. Updating your display drivers ensures your graphics card continues to work with newer versions of software and boosts performance in your graphics-intensive applications.
The Dangers of Conflicting Drivers
Updating your display driver is a bit more involved than your regular software installation process. It’s good practice to uninstall your older drivers to ensure your new driver files don’t conflict with previous versions. Unfortunately, removing old drivers can be a hassle — it’s not as simple as running an uninstall app. Even your driver’s official uninstaller software can miss old files, leaving installation packages, registry keys, and outdated settings that can cause hardware issues.
These aren’t small issues we’re talking about, either. Failing to remove all traces of your old driver can lead to conflicting settings, version incompatibility, reduced graphics card performance, or failure to install new drivers. In the worst cases, they can lead to a full-on computer crash.
DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller)
DDU to the rescue for those worried they might miss a file or registry key trying to uninstall their old driver manually. DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller) is a free application that helps you uninstall old GPU drivers without leaving any traces on your hard disk. It’s easy to use, even if you’re not a computer whiz.
How to Download DDU
DDU is completely free and available from a number of online sources. However, we recommend you download it from its official website if you want the latest stable release.
Things to Do Before Running DDU for the First Time
Once you’ve downloaded the DDU package, you can extract its contents to a folder on your computer. Remember the location of this folder, because the extraction process won’t create a shortcut on your desktop or in your Start menu. Your new folder should now contain the following files:
- DDU Logs (folder)
- settings (folder)
- Issues and Solutions.txt
- Display Driver Uninstaller.pdb
- Display Driver Uninstaller.config
- Display Driver Uninstaller.exe
Before you fire up DDU for the first time, there are a few things you should do to make sure you don’t run into problems during the driver uninstallation process.
Create a System Restore Point
It’s good practice to create a System Restore Point when working with software that deals with registry keys and system files. DDU shouldn’t cause any harm to your system, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. To create a System Restore Point in Windows 7/8/10, follow the steps below:
- Press the Start button to pull up the Search function, then type “Control Panel” in the Search Bar. Click on the Control Panel menu item when it appears.
- In the Control Panel window, select System and Maintenance.
- In the System and Maintenance window, select System.
- In the System window, select the Task tab, then select System Properties.
- In the System Properties window, select the System Protection tab, then select Create.
Although DDU is under active development and stable versions are mostly safe for your computer, it never hurts to have a System Restore point ready just in case. That way, you can always do a system rollback if something goes awry with the uninstallation process.
Download the Latest Drivers for Your GPU
You can use DDU to uninstall your current driver in preparation for a clean install of a new driver. If this is what you want to do, be sure to download the new driver beforehand. This way, you can install the new software and start a clean install as soon as Windows boots back up.
Disconnect Your Internet
Although not required, we recommend disconnecting your internet connection before running DDU. In modern operating systems like Windows 10, the system may automatically download new GPU drivers in the background. This can disrupt the uninstallation process of your display driver.
Add Exclusions for DDU In Your Antivirus
Some antivirus programs may falsely detect DDU as malware. This can cause your system to prevent DDU from being run at all, and in some cases, the antivirus may delete or quarantine the DDU executable.
You can get around this by adding special exclusion rules for the DDU folder in your antivirus. A quick Google search should help you figure out how to set up exclusions for your antivirus software.
Boot Into Safe Mode
The developers of DDU recommend running it in Safe Mode. Safe Mode is a barebones version of Windows that only loads the bare minimum services necessary to boot into the operating system. Running DDU in Safe Mode ensures no other services or applications can interfere with the uninstallation process.
Running DDU for the First Time
Now, you’re ready to fire up DDU! Just double-click Display Driver Uninstaller.exe to open the program.
If you’re not in Safe Mode when you start up DDU, an alert will pop up recommending a reboot into Safe Mode. You can exit the program and do this yourself, or click the Options button in the top-left hand corner, then check the Enable Safe Mode box.
This alert will appear if you’re not currently in Safe Mode.
Click Options to tweak how DDU works.
Exit out of DDU and re-open it. A dialog should appear prompting a reboot into Safe Mode.
Select Safe Mode (Recommended) in the Launch Option dropdown list. Then, click the Reboot to Safe Mode. This will restart your computer in Safe Mode. If you want to continue operating in Normal mode, select Normal.
Adjusting the Options in DDU
The Options menu shows a list of different settings you can use to tweak the display driver uninstallation process in DDU. This menu is mostly for power users; for most cases, the default settings will be just fine.
The Advanced Options section contains two items worth noting. Enable Safe Mode dialog will set DDU to display the Launch options box whenever you start DDU. Prevent downloads of drivers from “Windows update” when “Windows” search for a driver for a device stops Windows from automatically downloading drivers for your devices.
Uninstalling Your Graphics Drivers with DDU
You’ll see three operation modes on the left-hand side of the Display Driver Uninstaller (DDU) application window. All three will clean your system of old drivers then restart, not restart, or shutdown your computer. We’ll get into their difference functions below.
Option 1: Clean and restart (Highly recommended)
This option is suitable if you want to uninstall your current GPU drivers entirely and restart your computer so you can update it to the up-to-date GPU drivers. As we recommended above, you should have your new driver files downloaded and ready for install before performing any of these cleaning methods.
Option 2: Clean and do NOT restart (May cause issues like black screen)
The second option will uninstall your current GPU drivers without restarting your computer. This option is suitable if you want to see the log or information about the uninstallation process. You should select this option if you have multiple GPUs installed on your system and want to replace or update both at the same time. Here’s the procedure for cleaning old drivers for both GPUs at once:
- Select the device type and make of your first graphics card from the dropdown menus on the right-hand side of the application window.
- Uninstall the old drivers for your first card by selecting the Clean and do NOT restart method.
- After the uninstall is complete, select make and model of your second graphics card.
- Uninstall the old drivers for your second card by selecting Clean and restart.
Option 3: Clean and shutdown (For installing new graphics card)
The third option will uninstall your current GPU drivers then shut down your computer. You should choose this option if you plan to completely replace your current graphics card with another.
The Cleaning Process
After choosing your desired method of uninstalling your GPU drivers, DDU will begin to remove your GPU drivers from your computer entirely. Don’t worry if your screen goes blank or flickers for a moment — that’s perfectly normal.
Once the cleaning process is done, DDU may restart or shutdown your PC. If you chose the option to clean but not restart, DDU will store a log of the cleaning process in the DDU Logs folder. You can then proceed to restart or shutdown your system manually.