Remove old, unused, hidden device drivers in Windows with GhostBuster

We have seen how to remove old drivers in Windows natively, using the Device Manager. GhostBuster is an application which enumerates all the devices, detects ghosted devices and removes these if they match selectable devices types and/or devices classes with a single mouse-click.

GhostBuster – Remove old, unused, hidden device drivers

By default Windows does not show ghosted devices. Windows will show Ghosted devices only if two criteria are met:

  • An environment variable DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES with a value of 1 is added.
  • In Device Manager (Start Menu & Run ‘compmgmt.msc’ ) if you check the View|Hidden Devices menu item.

Because Windows has to detect if a devices is ghosted by trying to start it, a large number of ghosted devices will add to the startup time of Windows. The ‘regular’ way of removing these devices is right clicking each of them, select the uninstall menu item and wait for the Device Manager to uninstall the device and rebuild it’s tree of devices.

Ghostbuster does this all in one click and removes all the ghosted devices matching your own selection criteria with a single click!

You can select and deselect classes or devices through the right-click context menu of the devices list-view. Only ghosted devices (grayed text) AND devices that match the selection criteria (light yellow background) will be uninstalled when the ‘Remove Ghosts’ button is pressed. All other devices remain untouched.

Beware that windows has a fair number of devices that are ghostedbut should not be uninstalled (like devices in the sound, video and game controller class or system and non plug-n-play devices). GhostBuster marks most of these as services. Please note that these “Ghosted Devices” can be useful as well and is one reason why Windows never looks for drivers every time you connect the device.

Visit GhostBuster home page  on Code Plex for more.

Please exercise utmost caution before removing any unused or ghosted drivers!

How to identify Unknown Devices  and USBOblivion may also interest you!

Posted by on , in Category Downloads with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. This app finally got rid of the prior installations that kept haunting me. Very happy to have this app.

    Follow the right click instructions closely and be cautious about what you add to the list to remove.

    I removed about two dozen ghosts from my system. Some were very old although I put in a new ASUS motherboard and AMD Phenom 965 chip just two weeks ago.

  2. JCF

    Great App, thanks.

  3. subgrampus

    Per the URL for CodePlex, the latest GhostBuster may be used on Vista and Windows 7.

  4. imperatormk

    This app works like a charm :)!

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