NVIDIA Display Driver Cleanup

NVIDIA Display Driver Cleanup with CCleaner

Overview

Today we are going to learn how to perform a regular NVIDIA Display Driver Cleanup with CCleaner.

Anyone who has had an NVIDIA graphics card for any length of time has hopefully already discovered that the installer for the display drivers and the software associated with these cards leaves behind quite a few files that are no longer needed once the installation is complete. To make matters worse, each time you update your drivers and software yet another set of files is added to the machine without deleting previous installer files. This means that over time these files just keep adding up and eating away at your hard drive space. This becomes more and more of a problem, especially with so many people using lower capacity SSDs. It’s also a problem for people like me that keep regular system images of our machines as backups. These images can get massive if you aren’t cleaning up the junk on your machine before imaging.

There have been multiple guides over the years about how to delete these files that are left behind. It use to be fairly simple as NVIDIA would store it’s extracted installer files in a single location. As time has progressed and new features have been added to the software, especially if you are using the newest Geforce Experience program, the leftovers have spread to multiple locations on your machine. To delete all these files using the Windows GUI you have to navigate to multiple locations and enable viewing of hidden files and folders on your machine to track them all down. Since these files show up every time you do a driver or software update from NVIDIA this gets to be an annoying process to keep repeating. I especially hate when I end up with bigger backups than I needed because I’ve forgotten to do the cleanup before imaging.

Enter CCleaner. This tools is great for cleaning up leftovers and temporary files on your machine. By default, it even takes care of the main NVIDIA location for us. Since I run this weekly before doing my backups I figured I may as well use some of the advanced settings of CCleaner to make it clean up the other NVIDIA files for me as well.

File Locations

The first thing we need to cover is where exactly NVIDIA stores these files we want to get rid of.

1) The Installer Extraction Folder

For a long time the main folder NVIDIA uses has been located at:

C:\NVIDIA

In this folder you’ll see a sub-folder called DisplayDriver and inside that folder will be sub-folders for different version of the drivers that have been installed over time. It’ll look something like this:

NVIDIA CCleaner

All the files in this folder, and indeed the folder itself can be safely deleted. These are literally just the temporary extraction point the installer uses while installing the drivers.

2) The Geforce Experience Download Folder

This may not be present if you only install drivers for you card. If you install Geforce Experience and let it handle driver and software updates for you automatically, then this is the folder where it keeps copies of all it’s downloaded files. This folder is located at:

C:\ProgramData\NVIDIA Corporation\Downloader

The ProgramData folder is hidden by default. In order to view it you’ll need to open Folder Options (search it in the Windows Search box) and on the View tab select Show hidden files, folders, and drives. Click Apply to make the changes take effect.

NVIDIA CCleaner

Now the folder shows up on your main drive:

NVIDIA CCleaner

You can also get here by typing or pasting the address in the address bar at the top of the screen without changing your view settings. The folders inside ProgramData are not hidden.

Note that the files in this folder are NOT all safe to delete. Only the folders that appear as a random string of characters are to be deleted. These are the archived installer files. The other files and folders are needed for Geforce Experience to keep track of it’s download history. You want to make sure you do not delete the config and latest folders. Also do not delete the gfeupdates.json or status.json files.

3) The Geforce Experience Driver Repository

Newer versions of the Geforce Experience program are designed to keep a repository of past drivers, which should allow you to rollback to an earlier driver if you are having issues with a current build. These files are located at:

C:\Program Files\NVIDIA Corporation\Installer2

NVIDIA CCleaner

I’ve personally never found the need to try and rollback a driver with this method. I’m not even sure exactly how you would go about it in the Geforce Experience software. I certainly don’t think you need multiple version of the drivers stored here as well. Windows also keeps a repository of every driver ever installed so this seems redundant to me. Generally these will get removed automatically if you use the Perform Clean Installation option when installing new drivers. But who does that? I never use this option unless I’m having some sort of problem I need to resolve. Otherwise all it does it force you to redo any customizations to your driver configuration. Everything in this folder is safe to delete.

Also note that the uninstall files for Geforce Experience itself are located here so if you completely empty this folder you can no longer uninstall Geforce Experience by normal methods. This isn’t a big issue though. You can download the Geforce Experience installer separately and install it to replace the files needed for a normal uninstall.

Automating the process with CCleaner

As you can see from the section above, files are scattered everywhere by the NVIDIA installer. While it’s not particularly difficult or time consuming to navigate to and delete these files the process can be made faster as well as simplified.

The first thing you want to do is download and install CCleaner Free if you don’t already have it.

Download Link: https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download

Note: If using the free version of CCleaner I recommend going into the settings after installation and making sure everything in the Monitoring section is disabled. Otherwise the program will want to run all the time doing basically nothing useful.

Once CCleaner is open make sure you have the Cleaner section selected in the left menu. Click on the Applications tab at the top of this section and scroll down to Utilities. Note the NVIDIA Install Files entry already present here.

NVIDIA CCleaner

This is now enabled by default in later versions of CCleaner. This entry basically deletes the C:\NVIDIA folder and all it’s contents. Great. That’s one step already taken care of. Now we need to manually add the other locations.

Click on the Options section on the left menu. Then click on the Include tab in the sub-menu. This is where we are going to add the additional folders we want to empty. Do this in the following steps.

  • Click on the blue Add button on the right.

NVIDIA CCleaner

  • In the pop-up window make sure the radio button for the Include section is set to Drive or Folder.
  • Browse for or paste/type the location of the C:\Program Files\NVIDIA Corporation\Installer2\ folder in the box.
  • Under the Options section change the drop down menu to Include files and subfolders.
  • Click OK to save the changes.
  • Repeat these steps exactly for the C:\ProgramData\NVIDIA Corporation\Downloader folder.

NVIDIA CCleaner

This will leave you with the following Includes added to CCleaner.

NVIDIA CCleaner

If you run the Cleaner function of CCleaner at this point it will empty all contents of these folders just like the other files it removes. However, we need to remember that one of these folders has some files and folders in it needed by Geforce Experience to keep track of its updates. We do not want those files removed. So the next step is to exclude them from being deleted.

To do this click on the Exclude section of the sub-menu on the left and follow the steps below.

  • Click on the blue Add button on the right.
  • Make sure Drive or Folder is selected under the Exclude section.
  • Browse or paste/type the location of the C:\ProgramData\NVIDIA Corporation\Downloader\config folder in the box.
  • Click OK to add the entry.
  • Repeat this step to add the location of the C:\ProgramData\NVIDIA Corporation\Downloader\latest folder.

NVIDIA CCleaner

  • Now click the blue Add button again.
  • Change the Exclude section to File.
  • Browse or paste/type the location of the C:\ProgramData\NVIDIA Corporation\Downloader\gfeupdate.json file into the box.
  • Click OK to add this entry.
  • Repeat these steps to add the location of the C:\ProgramData\NVIDIA Corporation\Downloader\status.json file.

NVIDIA CCleaner

You should now have a set of entries under the Exclude  section like this.

NVIDIA CCleaner

That’s it. You now have CCleaner setup and ready to clean the NVIDIA leftovers along with its normal array of unnecessary files.

To do this go back to the Cleaner section on the left. Click the blue Analyze button to scan the system.

NVIDIA CCleaner

In the results pane look for the Advanced – Custom Files and Folders entry. Double click on this to show a list of the files being deleted.

NVIDIA CCleaner

You can browse through this list to make sure all is as it should be. My list clearly shows the areas we added and does not show the files and folders we specifically excluded. Once you are certain everything is setup to work as intended click the blue Run Cleaner button to deleted the files and folders.

Conclusion

As you can see from the full Analysis panel in CCleaner, this operation deleted about 630 MB of NVIDIA leftovers. This is from a single driver and software update to the graphics card. Just imagine how fast these add up with NVIDIA releasing updates at least on a monthly basis if not more frequently. Now you don’t have to remember to dig through all those files and folders looking for what needs deleted every time you do a driver update. All you have to do now is run CCleaner after you’ve installed NVIDIA updates and you are cleaned up in a matter of less than a minute.

I hope this guide has been helpful. Please leave comments if you see anything that needs work, and especially if you notice something has changed in the way the NVIDIA software works. It’s probably just a matter of time until these locations may need to be changed around to account for new or different locations being used by NVIDIA.

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