I’ve blogged repeatedly here about a great little free software tool called DriverStore Explorer (RAPR.EXE). In Windows environments all the way up to and including Windows 10, any drivers that have been loaded and installed on the current Windows OS (or prior OSes that have been upgraded) reside in a directory named %windir%\System32\DriverStore. As an experiment, I’ve been cleaning up that directory on one Windows 10 installation (on my Dell Venue 11 Pro 7130) and leaving that directory alone on another installation (on my i7-4770K homebrew desktop). Upon reading an observation from one Windows 10 beta tester over on the Windows 10 Forums this morning about a Windows install over 50 GB in size (!) I found myself wondering if DriverStore might not be playing a role in that burgeoning disk consumption.
So I decided to compare the size of those two directories on my cleaned-up versus untouched versions. On the untouched version the size of that folder is a whopping 26.1 GB; on the cleaned-up version, it consumes just 1.4 GB. Here’s what those folders look like in WinDirStat, just for a quick visual comparison:
Dell above, homebrew below: you can fit the smaller box into the bigger one more than 18 times!
(I reduced pixel count by 50% on both images to better fit most WordPress displays)
In case the moral of the story isn’t already clear, especially for those who want to run Windows on a smaller SSD or hard disk, you really can recover a lot of storage space by keeping your DriverStore cleaned up. If you need further proof, following a quick cleanup with RAPR on that directory, it consumed only 1.3 GB. I found over a dozen duplicate Nvidia drivers therein, but it was the 120-plus copies of the RealTek sound chip drivers that really sucked up the space, as the subsequent reclamation of 24.8 GB of disk space unequivocally illustrates. All I can say is “Zounds!”