Windows contains a slew of in-built tools that help to diagnose and fix common errors. While most people are aware of these troubleshooting techniques, there are some that can be swept under the rug. Driver Verifier is one of these lesser-known utilities.
Here’s how you fix your Windows 10 errors with Driver Verifier.
What is Driver Verifier?
Driver Verifier, just like the name suggests, is a utility that helps in figuring out which driver is malfunctioning. Unlike SFC, CHDSK, and other troubleshooting utilities, it doesn’t fix the problem but rather helps narrow down if and which driver is responsible for the error. This isn’t a new utility either, it has been around since Windows 2000.
The reason for its relative obscurity is that it’s mostly used as a tool by developers to test out new drivers.
Precautions to Take Before Running the Utility
Driver Verifier puts the computer through various stress checks. You should note that there have been reports of it bricking systems as well.
But there are some precautions users can take to prevent this from happening:
- Remember only to use it when you’ve exhausted ALL other options for diagnosing a blue screen error.
- It’s advisable to not use it in safe mode because Windows doesn’t load all drivers when in safe mode.
- We strongly suggest creating a Restore Point and backing-up important data in case things go south.
- Ensure you have administrator privileges before running the utility.
Before running Driver Verifier, users should enable minidumps. Minidumps (.DMP) are files in which Windows stores information about a crash and the events leading to it. Since Driver Verifier doesn’t always display the driver which is malfunctioning, it does store all this information in a DMP file. This step is critical and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Here’s how users can enable minidumps:
- Press Windows Key + R to launch the Run command. Type sysdm.cpl in the text box and hit Enter.
- In the Advanced tab, under Startup and Recovery, click on Settings
- Uncheck Automatically restart.
- Under the Write debugging information section, select Small memory dump (256 KB) from the drop-down menu.
- Ensure that the Small dump directory is set to %SystemRoot%Minidump
- Click on OK and then restart your computer.
How to Run Driver Verifier
After enabling minidumps, users can safely run Driver Verifier and diagnose the BSOD. Running Driver Verifier is fairly simple, here’s how you can do it:
- In the Start menu search bar, type cmd and right-click on Command Prompt > Run as administrator.
- In the console type verifier and press Enter.
- The Driver Verifier application window will open.
- Select the Create custom settings (for code developers) and click on Next.
- In the next window, check all options from the list except Randomized low resources simulation and DDI compliance checking. Click on Next.
- Now click the Select driver names from a list option and click Next.
- From the driver list, select all drivers except the ones provided by Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft advises against selecting all drivers and running the Driver Verifier utility.
- Click on Finish.
After following the aforementioned steps, users need to reboot their computer and use it as they normally would.
Driver Verifier will run in the background and diagnose the drivers. Wait for your system to crash, or if there are some actions that triggered the blue screen earlier, repeat those. Driver Verifier needs to experience a crash in order to determine which driver failed and led to the crash. Sometimes this may take as long as seven hours, so hang in there.
You can also ensure whether Driver Verifier is running or not by entering the verifier /querysettings command in an elevated Command Prompt. If the utility is running, the Command Prompt will return a list of drivers and their status.
How to Read DMP Files
When your computer crashes, Driver Verifier will automatically store all information about the crash into a DMP file. You can either upload these files to the Microsoft forums and wait for their response, or you can read them yourselves using software called BlueScreenViewer.
This is how you can read the DMP files:
- Download BlueScreenView from here.
- Run the application and it will automatically load all DMP files from the C:WindowsMinidump directory.
- Click on the most recent dump file and scroll sideways until you get to the Caused by driver section.
- Copy the filename and a quick internet search will reveal the device with which the driver is associated.
- You can accordingly update the driver or roll -back the changes.
How to Update a Driver
The first step users should take after finding out the culprit for the crash, is to update the driver. It’s fairly simple, just follow these steps:
- Press Windows Key + R and in the Run command, type devmgmt.msc and press Enter.
- In the Device Manager, navigate to the required device and expand the menu.
- Right-click on the driver and click on Update driver.
- Click on Search automatically for updated driver software and Windows will automatically download and install the latest drivers.
How to Roll Back a Driver
- Follow steps one and two mentioned in the section above to open Device Manager.
- Navigate to the required driver, right-click on it and click on Properties.
- Under the Driver tab, click on Roll Back Driver.
- Reboot your computer.
Alternatively, you can avoid this whole ordeal by already replacing outdated drivers before they cause a problem.
How to Stop Driver Verifier
Contrary to how you start Driver Verifier, it’s recommended that users stop it when their computer is booted into safe mode.
This is because safe mode disables all third-party drivers and earlier all Microsoft Drivers were unselected before running Driver Verifier. Thus, Driver Verifier will have minimal to no impact on your system in safe mode.
How to Boot Into Safe Mode
- Press Windows Key + R and enter msconfig in the run command.
- In the System Configuration window, click on the Boot tab.
- Check the Safe boot option and select your preferences.
- Apply the settings and reboot your computer.
There are various other ways of booting into safe mode as well.
After booting into safe mode, there are two ways to disable Driver Verifier. These are via the Command Prompt or the Driver Verifier Manager.
How to Disable Driver Verifier via Command Prompt
- In the Start menu search bar, type cmd and then right-click on Command Prompt > Run as administrator.
- In the console type verifier /reset and hit Enter.
- Reboot your computer normally.
How to Disable Driver Verifier via Driver Verifier Manager
- Run Driver Verifier. You can refer to the Running Driver Verifier section in this article for this.
- In the Driver Verifier window, select Delete Existing Settings and click on Finish.
- Reboot your computer.
You can use System Configuration to subsequently uncheck the Safe boot option and reboot your computer normally.
Checked and Verified
Driver Verifier is a nifty tool when a pesky blue screen error won’t go away and it’s difficult to narrow down the suspects. But users should always be wary of the risks that come with using a powerful developer tool. Remember to create a System Restore Point before running the Driver Verifier utility.