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When Should I Remove Drivers From My Computer?

January 3rd, 2014 No comments

Since drivers are such crucial system files, it is best to handle them very carefully. Overzealous removal of files that seem unneeded or outdated could cripple your system and leave your hardware on the fritz. Most users should leave their drivers alone, but problems popping up may require you to do a little selective trimming of the archives. It takes a few steps to fully remove driver files. However, virus infections and incompatibilities often call for the deletion of device drivers before brand new copies can be installed. Learning when and how to remove driver files is important if you don’t have a computer service department to fall back on for repairs.

Arguments Against Removal

It is a good practice to uninstall software and games when you’re done with them to keep your hard drive from getting cluttered. However, driver files are small and won’t take up significant room. There are far more benefits to keeping older version of drivers around than there are risks associated with them. If you keep your files, you can:

  • Easily rollback to a previous working version when an update causes all sorts of issues. Many new releases come with unexpected bugs, so rollback is one of the most powerful driver tools you can use on Windows XP.
  • Use System Recovery to reset your entire computer back to a point before a virus or bug took hold. If the drivers have been deleted since the last good working point, recovery will likely fail in at least one way.
  • Keep generic drivers from being installed for hardware you use every day. Removing a driver still in use often triggers an automatic installation that leaves you with limited to no use of the equipment.
  • Registry files are left behind after many types of incomplete driver uninstalling processes. Leaving these listings could mean that new items are incorrectly recognized as the old equipment. New sound cards or printers with no response are often linked to driver confusions.

Corruption And Malware

One situation that calls for uninstalling the older set of drivers is when malware or viruses strike. Many high level viral threats attack the system files to make it much harder for you to remove the infection. Being forced to delete your graphics card driver may cause the system to act up, but it could be your only option for eliminating the threat. Your anti virus software may ask to quarantine the file before deleting it, which will require a reboot. Make sure you follow the uninstallation process after quarantine, then clear the system with your anti virus program, before you attempt to install a new copy.

Driver Errors

You may also need to initiate a full removal of scanner drivers or similar files if you find that error codes keep popping up every time you start your computer. This is often the only indication that you are dealing with file problems at all. Keep an eye out for:

  • Code 18 – The driver is in need of reinstallation before the device can work properly again.
  • Code 38 – There are issues loading the driver files because existing instances are already open.
  • Code 45 – The hardware is not connected.
  • Code 49 – Too many devices have been installed into the registry. This is the code most linked to the need for immediate deletion of old and unneeded drivers.

New Equipment

When you want to replace a stock piece of hardware or an outdated accessory, you may need to completely remove old drivers along with the unwanted equipment. Leaving files in place often means a new video card or sound card is simply recognized as the previous version. This prevents the hardware manager from following the process for adding the right driver files for your upgrade. Again, deleting the physical drivers won’t take away the corresponding registry listings, so follow a full uninstallation if your new equipment recommends it. It’s smart to follow the process even if it isn’t recommended when installing anything attaching to the motherboard.

It is also recommended that you prune out some outdated drivers if you reconfigure your hardware and remove things that aren’t replaced. Leaving too many drivers behind will use up precious system resources and slow down the start up process. Each driver file has to be loaded during the boot phase, so excess listings can lead to slightly slower loads. This is barely noticeable on a modern system, but an older XP computer with limited memory and processing power could struggle greatly if it gets too bogged down. You may find a streamlined start after a careful survey of driver files that are no longer needed.

How To Remove Drivers In Full

A quick process is all it takes to remove driver files and the registry listings associated with them. You won’t be able to see the files for missing or disconnected hardware unless you take the right steps to unlock them says Tech Republic.

  1. Open your Start Menu by clicking the circular icon in the left hand lower corner.
  2. Select the Run option near the bottom.
  3. Enter the word “cmd”, without the quotes, into the Run box that appears. Use lower cased letters.
  4. When the Command Prompt window opens, type in “set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1” without the quotes. Press enter after to execute the command. Nothing will appear to happen, but the setting will change as soon as you see the blinking cursor move to the next line.
  5. On the next line, enter “devmgmt.msc” with no quotes. Again, press enter. At this point you will see the Device Manager opening – without you having to go through the Start Menu again.
  6. Open the View menu at the top of the Manager screen. Click on the Show Hidden Devices option.
  7. Check the updated listing on the screen. You should see any inactive or unused drivers as grayed out icons and text. Double check every device and listing before making any changes. When you find something you can verify needs removal, right click and select Uninstall to complete the process.

Vga.dll File Not Found Error

December 9th, 2009 No comments

Vga.dll errors are caused by when the vga.dll file is either removed or corrupted. It could indicate a registry problem, a virus or malware, or sometimes a hardware failure.

How to solve Vga.dll errors:

*If you can’t start Windows normally, use the Safe Mode.

  • Check your Recycle Bin to see if vga.dll is there. If you see it there, you probably accidentally deleted it. You can restore it from here. (If you emptied your Recycle Bin you and you know you deleted the file, you can try running a file recovery program to restore it.)
  • Run a virus scan on your computer to see if you are affected by a virus or malware. vga.dll file errors can be caused by a virus. The file might still be on your machine, but is masked.
  • If running a certain program causes the error message, try to reinstall that program.
  • If you get the error message when you are using a hardware device, try updating the drivers.
  • If the error message started showing up after updating drivers, you might try rolling them back.
  • Run the System File Checker.
  • Install any available Windows Updates. Many service packs and patches actually replace or update your .dll files.
  • Test your memory and your hard drive. You might need to replace one or the other.
  • Use a free registry cleaner to repair your .dll files
  • As a last resort, if none of the above tips work, you might consider doing a clean installation of Windows. Keep in mind that your hard drive will be wiped clean. Make sure you have everything backed up and know how to reinstall everything you need. If you see the error message after doing this, you can be certain that the problem is hardware related.

STOP Error 0x000000B4 – The video driver failed to initialize

December 3rd, 2009 No comments

STOP error 0xB4 means that Windows was unable to enter graphics mode. Your video driver failed to initialize. This happens because of a conflict with the computer’s parallel port and your video card, if the parallel port I/O address is set to 03BC.

To fix this problem you need to change the parallel port I/O address from 03BC to 0378

  1. Restart your machine, and press F8 at the Starting Windows screen.
  2. Select Safe Mode, and then press ENTER
  3. Log on to your using the local administrator account.
  4. Click Start, Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  5. Double-click System.
  6. Click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
  7. Click the plus “+” next to ports to expand the ports list.
  8. Select the printer port LPT1, and on the Action menu, click Properties.
  9. Click the Resources tab, and then clear the Use Automatic Settings check box .
  10. In the Settings Based On drop down menu, select a setting that uses an I/O address of 0378 instead of 03BC.
  11. Click OK, and then close Device Manager.

Delete the UpperFilters and LowerFilters Registry Values

December 3rd, 2009 No comments

You can solve several Device Manager error codes by deleting the UpperFilters and LowerFilters registry values from the Windows Registry. Some of the common Device Manager error codes that are caused by UpperFilters and LowerFilters include Code 19, Code 31, Code 39 and Code 41.

It is fairly simple to remove the UpperFilters and LowerFilters registry values. Before you get started, make sure you have backed up the registry keys that you are modifying.

  • Click Start, Run.
  • In the textbox, type regedit (This opens the Registry Editor program.)
  • Click OK.
  • Find the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE folder and click the (+) icon to expand the folder.
  • Keep expanding the folders until you reach the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class registry key.
  • Click the (+) icon next to the CLASS list to expand it. You’ll see a list of 32 digit subkeys. Each one is unique and corresponds to a different class of hardware.
  • Now you need to figure out which device glass GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) you need.
  • Click on the correct subkey
  • Right click on UpperFilters and choose Delete. Confirm that you would like to delete it.
  • Now, right click on LowerFilters and choose Delete. Confirm that you would like to delete it.
  • If you see files named UpperFilters.bak or LowerFilters.bak, you don’t need to delete them.
  • Close the Registry Editor and restart your computer.

Error Message: “This device cannot start. (Code 10)”

November 9th, 2009 No comments

A Code 10 error occurs when Device Manager can’t start a hardware device. This error is usually caused by corrupted or outdated drivers, so most often the solution is pretty easy.

  • The first solution to try is to restart your machine. Some error messages can be caused by a temporary problem.
  • Next, did you just install a new device or update? If you did, this might have caused the problem. Either roll back the driver you installed, or use the System Restore to undo recent Device Manager changes.
  • The most common fix for a Code 10 error is to uninstall and reinstall your device drivers. If it is a USB device device is generating the Code 10 error, uninstall every device under the Universal Serial Bus controllers hardware category in Device Manager as part of the driver reinstall.
  • You might also try to update the drivers for your device, if a more current version is available.
  • You can run an update for the Windows Service Pack. There might be a patch available which will solve your error.
  • If all of the above solutions don’t fix it, you might need to replace your hardware.

STOP Error 0x000000AD: VIDEO_DRIVER_DEBUG_REPORT_REQUEST

November 3rd, 2009 No comments

STOP error 0xAD is a fault issued by video driver. It might indicate a bug in the video driver or that the video port created a non-fatal minidump on behalf of the video driver during run time.

Unfortunately this is a fatal Windows error, typically called a Stop message, Bug Check, or more commonly the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD). The system is in a forced reboot state. Any unsaved work is most likely lost.

STOP code 0x000000AD may also display “VIDEO_DRIVER_DEBUG_REPORT_REQUEST” in the same STOP message.

Code 31 Error in Device Manager

October 12th, 2009 No comments

This device is not working properly because Windows cannot load the drivers required for this device. (Code 31)

A Code 31 error can be related to any hardware device, but most Code 31 errors appear on optical drives like CD and DVD drives. A Code 31 error is caused by a number of reasons that stops Windows from loading the driver for a specific hardware device. (The exception is if you see the Code 31 error on the Microsoft ISATAP adapter in Windows Vista. Microsoft claims that there is not an issue here. Just ignore the error.)

Try these solutions to fix a Code 31 error:

  • Restart your computer (Sometimes this will solve the problem and you’re done.)
  • If you just installed a device or updated drivers, they might be the cause of the problem. Undo the change, or roll back the drivers. (You can also try to use the System Restore to undo Device Manager changes)
  • Try to update the device drivers, either automatically or by downloading them from the manufacturer’s website.
  • Make sure that your device is compatible with whatever version of Windows you are running. Any of Microsoft’s operating systems can experience a Code 31 Device Manager error.

Device Manager Error Codes

October 9th, 2009 No comments

Device Manager error codes are codes, followed by error messages, that are reported in the Device Manager

Error codes in Device Manager are created when your PC is experiencing device driver issues, system resource conflicts, or other hardware problems.

Note: Device Manager error codes are completely different than system error codes even though some of the code numbers may be the same. If you see an error code outside of Device Manager, it’s not a Device Manager error code.

  • Device Manager Error Code 1

    This device is not configured correctly. (Code 1)

  • Device Manager Error Code 3 – Click here to Fix Error Code 3

    The driver for this device might be corrupted, or your system may be running low on memory or other resources. (Code 3)

  • Device Manager Error Code 10

    This device cannot start. (Code 10)

  • Device Manager Error Code 12

    This device cannot find enough free resources that it can use. If you want to use this device, you will need to disable one of the other devices on this system. (Code 12)

  • Device Manager Error Code 14

    This device cannot work properly until you restart your computer. (Code 14)

  • Device Manager Error Code 16

    Windows cannot identify all the resources this device uses. (Code 16)

  • Device Manager Error Code 18

    Reinstall the drivers for this device. (Code 18)

  • Device Manager Error Code 19

    Windows cannot start this hardware device because its configuration information (in the registry) is incomplete or damaged. To fix this problem you should uninstall and then reinstall the hardware device. (Code 19)

  • Device Manager Error Code 21

    Windows is removing this device. (Code 21)

  • Device Manager Error Code 22

    This device is disabled. (Code 22)

  • Device Manager Error Code 24

    This device is not present, is not working properly, or does not have all its drivers installed. (Code 24)

  • Device Manager Error Code 28

    The drivers for this device are not installed. (Code 28)

  • Device Manager Error Code 29

    This device is disabled because the firmware of the device did not give it the required resources. (Code 29)

  • Device Manager Error Code 31 – Click here to Fix Error Code 31

    This device is not working properly because Windows cannot load the drivers required for this device. (Code 31)

  • Device Manager Error Code 32

    A driver (service) for this device has been disabled. An alternate driver may be providing this functionality. (Code 32)

  • Device Manager Error Code 33

    Windows cannot determine which resources are required for this device. (Code 33)

  • Device Manager Error Code 34

    Windows cannot determine the settings for this device. Consult the documentation that came with this device and use the Resource tab to set the configuration. (Code 34)

  • Device Manager Error Code 35

    Your computer’s system firmware does not include enough information to properly configure and use this device. To use this device, contact your computer manufacturer to obtain a firmware or BIOS update. (Code 35)

  • Device Manager Error Code 36

    This device is requesting a PCI interrupt but is configured for an ISA interrupt (or vice versa). Please use the computer’s system setup program to reconfigure the interrupt for this device. (Code 36)

  • Device Manager Error Code 37

    Windows cannot initialize the device driver for this hardware. (Code 37)

  • Device Manager Error Code 38

    Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware because a previous instance of the device driver is still in memory. (Code 38)

  • Device Manager Error Code 39

    Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware. The driver may be corrupted or missing. (Code 39)

  • Device Manager Error Code 40

    Windows cannot access this hardware because its service key information in the registry is missing or recorded incorrectly. (Code 40)

  • Device Manager Error Code 41

    Windows successfully loaded the device driver for this hardware but cannot find the hardware device. (Code 41)

  • Device Manager Error Code 42

    Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware because there is a duplicate device already running in the system. (Code 42)

  • Device Manager Error Code 43

    Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43)

  • Device Manager Error Code 44

    An application or service has shut down this hardware device. (Code 44)

  • Device Manager Error Code 45

    Currently, this hardware device is not connected to the computer. (Code 45)

  • Device Manager Error Code 46

    Windows cannot gain access to this hardware device because the operating system is in the process of shutting down. (Code 46)

  • Device Manager Error Code 47

    Windows cannot use this hardware device because it has been prepared for safe removal, but it has not been removed from the computer. (Code 47)

  • Device Manager Error Code 48

    The software for this device has been blocked from starting because it is known to have problems with Windows. Contact the hardware vendor for a new driver. (Code 48)

  • Device Manager Error Code 49

    Windows cannot start new hardware devices because the system hive is too large (exceeds the Registry Size Limit). (Code 49)

Error Code 3

October 9th, 2009 No comments

The Code 3 error is one of several Device Manager error codes. The Code 3 error will usually appear like:

The driver for this device might be corrupted, or your system may be running low on memory or other resources. (Code 3)

Important: Device Manager error codes are only seen in the Device Manager. If you see the Code 3 error somewhere else in Windows, it is most likely a system error.

What Causes the Code 3 Error?

A Code 3 error is generated when the Device Manager can’t start the device due to  outdated or corrupted drivers or poor system resources.

Resolution

  1. Restart your computer. There is always the chance that the error Code 3 you’re seeing on a device was caused by some temporary memory problem or an issue in the Device Manager or with the hardware. Sometimes rebooting your machine might fix the Code 3 error.
  2. Undo Recent Changes. If you recently installed a device or made a change in the Device Manager just before the Code 3 error appeared, then undo whatever change you made to see if the error is still there. Depending on the changes you made, you might try to:
    • Remove or reconfigure the newly installed device.
    • Roll back the driver to a previous version.
    • Use System Restore to go back to a date prior to your Code 3 error.
  3. Reinstall the drivers for the device. Uninstalling and then reinstalling the drivers for the device is a likely solution to a Code 3 error. (If a USB device is generating the Code 3 error, uninstall every device under the Universal Serial Bus controllers hardware category in the Device Manager as part of the driver reinstall.) It is important to note that a full driver reinstall involves completely removing the currently installed driver and then letting Windows install it over again from scratch.
  4. Update the drivers for the device. It’s also very possible that installing the latest drivers for the device could correct the Code 3 error. If it does, it means that the stored Windows drivers you reinstalled in Step 3 were were probably damaged.
  5. Install the latest Windows service pack Microsoft often releases service packs and other patches for Windows, one of which might contain a fix for the Code 3 error.
  6. Replace the hardware. A problem with the hardware device might be causing the Code 3 error, in which case replacing the hardware is your next logical step. Another possibility, is that the device is not compatible with your version of Windows. You can check the Windows HCL to be sure. If you’re positive that a hardware problem isn’t causing the Code 3 error, you could try to repair your Windows instillation. If that doesn’t work, as a last resort, you may need to contact a local repair shop or try a clean install of Windows.