AMD formally addresses rare driver bug suspected of bricking Windows installations

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Recap: AMD graphics card users have been reporting instances of driver installations completely bricking their Windows installs since mid-February. Despite the reports popping up on several social media outlets and forums, no official statement regarding the issue was ever made. AMD has now stepped forward and admitted that they’ve been able to reproduce the issue, identifying the Adrenalin driver package’s “Factory Reset” option as the main issue.

The issue, which was originally reported earlier this year, was suspected to be a bug in the recent Adrenalin 23.2.1 driver package. AMD users who were unfortunate enough to encounter the issue would attempt to install the drivers, only to be met with an inaccessible boot drive error upon restart. Once encountered, affected users had two choices: attempt to restore to an earlier restore point, or completely reinstall Windows.

Online News 72h editor Brad Chacos has been investigating the issue and working closely with AMD to identify and resolve it since the first reports trickled in. In a recent article, Chacos reported that AMD formally acknowledged the issue, discovering a flaw that could result in the inaccessible boot scenario when using the software’s “Factory Reset” option during driver installation.

“We have reproduced an issue that can occur in an extremely small number of instances if a PC update occurs during the installation of AMD Software: Adrenalin Edition, and we are actively investigating. We recommend users ensure all system updates are applied or paused before installing the driver, and that the “Factory Reset” option is unchecked during the AMD driver installation process. We are committed to resolve issues as quickly as possible and strongly encourage users to submit issues with AMD Software: Adrenalin Edition via the Bug Report Tool.”

According to the article, AMD is actively investigating the issue, which has been found to be extremely rare and hard to reproduce. Regardless of how rare it may be, the potential for a botched operating system installation and loss of data is never a promising possibility. Fortunately, there’s a very easy workaround: simply don’t check the “Factory Reset” box during the Adrenalin installation process.

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While many users may never check the feature’s box, there are a number who use it to clear old data and ensure a clean driver installation. All users should exercise caution when using the “Factory Reset” feature until a fix is implemented. Those who use it to perform a clean installation and clear any legacy driver files can fall back to another well-known graphics driver removal tool, Display Driver Uninstalller (DDU). The program is available for Windows 7 through to Windows 11 and can be used to remove all traces of AMD, Nvidia, or Intel graphics drivers.

The bug is extremely rare, and many users (myself included) have installed the latest driver packages using the reset feature without issue. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and ensuring the “Factory Reset” box is unchecked is an extremely easy step to ensure you don’t become one of the affected users before AMD can remediate the issue.

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