Exporting Windows drivers with pnputil

I recently came across an entry in c’t Magazin‘s FAQ about backing up Windows drivers for a fresh Windows installation. Their suggestion was to utilise the pnputil tool that is included with Windows. Further research on the topic brought up numerous other articles.

Strangely, the c’t article recommended the use of a PowerShell command prompt with elevated administrative privileges. Other sources suggested that only Administrator privileges were necessary and Power Shell was not required.

However, it turns out that you need neither Power Shell nor Administrator privileges. Simply open a cmd command prompt, create a folder for the output, and run pnputil:

C:\windows\system32> cd \
C:\> mkdir DriverBackup
C:\> pnputil /export-driver * c:\DriverBackup

This command exports all currently installed drivers to subdirectories in the c:\DriverBackup folder.

It is likely that other uses of pnputil, such as installing, enabling and disabling drivers, etc., will require administrator privileges. However, exporting them does not, at least in Windows 10. That may have changed in Windows 11, but I doubt it.