Anybody who’s spent time working with Device Manager in Windows knows that drivers stay visible in the OS even when attendant devices are absent. That’s why so many more items show up in DevMgr when you click “Show hidden devices” in its View menu. Sometimes Windows goes wild and lists many copies of the same driver. At other times, on systems where USB or other external peripherals come and go often, spurious or outdated entries may swamp others. Sure, you can uninstall those devices one at a time in DevMgr. But Uwe Sieber’s Device Cleanup Tool works like a charm. It also lets you see — and remove — any or all “non-present devices” on a Windows PC.
When Needed, Device Cleanup Tool Works Well
Here’s a partial listing of the output from Device Cleanup Tool on my Lenovo T520 laptop PC. It’s got some miles on it, and I plug and unplug USB drives and devices on it all the time. I mark several such items with red arrows in the screen shot that follows, by way of example:
Items with red arrows for ephemeral USB storage. Note the age on the absent “Generic volume shadow copy” items, too.
Here’s what’s up with the red-arrow items:
- The E: drive comes from an external USB drive I occasionally attach to make an external backup of this laptop.
- The ESD-USB item is a bootable repair and recovery utility disk I occasionally use.
- The EVO500 is a USB 3.0 enclosure for mSATA SSD drives that houses a Samsung 512 GB EVO SSD.
- The H: drive is another external drive I hooked up to play with some while back.
I don’t really need any of these because DevMgr will happily reload drivers when and if I plug any of these devices back in. So I can select any devices I wish to remove to highlight them, then click the Remove selected entry in the Devices menu to make them disappear. Looking at the ages on the 15 “Generic volume shadow copy” entries in the tool (the youngest is 86 days, the oldest 180) I decide to deep-six them, too. And out they go…
One more thing: please remember to run this utility as Administrator, or you won’t be able to remove any of the devices you select. Another nice tool for the Admin toolbox!