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Deleting your drivers is not good! Time to get out that installation media.

I'm running Windows Vista on my Dell Inspiron 1525. I accidentally deleted all of my drivers. Now, I can't start my computer and it even failed to reinstall Windows. What can I do now?

In this excerpt from Answercast #22, I look at a computer with deleted drivers that is not recovering from a reinstallation of Windows.

Deleting your drivers

Deleting all your drivers is absolutely a very bad thing to do. The only solution that I'm aware of to recover from that would, in fact, be to reinstall Windows.

Here's the problem I have with your question (and the reason that I'm not really sure if that's really what's going on here...)

  • And that is installing Windows does not depend on anything on the hard drive.

If you're booting from a Windows installation media (in other words, your Windows Vista DVD), then it doesn't matter that the drivers aren't on the computer because the drivers come from the installation media. So that should just work.

Drivers are reinstalled with Windows

What you did here by deleting all the drivers should not affect your ability to install Windows from scratch either from original installation media or potentially even from recovery media. That's typically reading some information from a CD or DVD and then potentially more information from a hidden partition on your hard drive that you haven't touched.

So, I honestly don't know what's happening here. The right thing to do is exactly what you apparently attempted to do and that is reinstall Windows. Why it failed, I honestly don't know. I would have to understand exactly how you attempted to reinstall Windows and exactly what happened; what error messages you got when you tried.

Article C5412 - May 31, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Ken B
May 31, 2012 7:26 PM

Believe it or not, I have seen computers from the major manufacturers which came with XP restore disks that couldn't, in fact, restore windows. The problem was that, for computers that came with SATA hard drives, the XP restore disks that came with the computer did not include the SATA driver. Once you got past the first pass of the install, and rebooted from the HD, windows would bluescreen with a "boot device not accessible" error. Whether or not this is related to this particular user, I can't say without more specific details on "I can't start my computer".

June 1, 2012 4:11 PM

How exactly can one "accidentally" delete ALL DRIVERS on one's computer? Seriously, how? Is this question a hoax? To delete ONE driver that had been corrupted took me a good ten minutes to dig far enough into the OS to even find it.

The question did not appear to be a hoax. (I've gotten pretty good at weeding those out.) My assumption is more a lack of understand of what exactly was deleted, but clearly something catestrophic. In these cases I usually answer the question as asked, especially if the answer doesn't change much based on the possible missunderstanding.
June 2, 2012 3:30 AM

As per ken b comment, I've got a vista system as my computer locked up after an update and it just wouldn't let me back in so I could undo the update, after about three or four goes at this I decided to wipe my computer, but I came across one of the selections which was delete so I did then went to format and then carried on with trying to install windows with the disk, but it came up with, you need to install a driver so I tried doing that with all the disks that came with my setup, but it just kept saying install driver, after having another look I figured it was my "C" drive which was gone, and none of my disks can put that on, so what do I do now.

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