Uninstall Hidden Devices, Drivers, and Services

   Posted July 8, 2004 by David Kirk in Windows 7, Windows installation

This tutorial describes the steps used to remove unwanted devices, drivers, and services from the device manager. These instructions can be used with Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista and Windows 7.

Have you had drivers or devices that will not go away even though you are sure you have uninstalled them? Have you replaced your old 100Mbps network card with a faster Gbps adapter, but you cannot re-assign it the same IP address because your system insists there is still an adapter installed with that same IP address? The system also insists that you forgot to remove the driver before removing the old card. Unwanted items in the device manager can cause numerous problems such as these.

To get rid of unwanted drivers, devices, or services, use the following steps:
1) Open the Start menu and choose Run.
2) Type in cmd and click OK.
3) At the command prompt, type in set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1 and press Enter. (Note that nothing seems to happen. This is expected. You are actually setting an environment variable which is going to help you to see hidden devices.)
4) On the next command prompt line, type devmgmt.msc and press Enter. This will launch the Windows Device Manager Console.
5) In the Device Manager Console, from the View menu, select Show Hidden Devices.

As you expand the different drivers and devices in the device manager, you will see not only the items that Windows currently detects as installed on your PC; but you will also see drivers, devices, and services which have been loaded in the past but were not uninstalled or are not currently started. You can find your offending device, right-click, and choose uninstall to remove it from the system completely.

Note that non-loaded devices, drivers, and services are “grayed” out, but that does not necessarily mean that you should delete all of them. Only remove items you know you do not need. Be careful that you do not change too many devices, or you might need to re-activate your Windows installation.

Finally, if you accidentally exit the Device Manager Console you will need to start over again at the command prompt. To close the command prompt window, type exit.


About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

The Conversation

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  • Steve

    These instructions are an unnecessarily complicated way to do something very simple. Just go to the device manager, click View, and select “show hidden devices”. What you have not done is explain what to do when clicking “uninstall” results in a message “failed to uninstall the device. the device may be needed to boot up the computer.”

    • Jan

      Steve, your suggestion will show hidden devices, but not the non-present devices. And the reason you get the message “failed to uninstall the device. The device may be needed to boot up the computer” may be due to dependency on a non-present device. For me, setting the environment variable before starting the device manager enabled me to uninstall the non-present device first, and then I was also able to uninstall the hidden devices that before refused to uninstall (at least most of them …)

  • Xiotion


  • MARS666

    very goooooooooooooooooooooood
    this helped me to uninstal lots of old drivers on XP
    thx man

  • grace

    thanks for this little recipe. but what i need is what should i do in order to show my hidden drive. e.g. “drive d”. please help me. tanxc

  • donovan

    owowowowowowoowoowwowowow thanks alot i wish i could give a kiss to who wrote this and poasted it thanks alot for reel your awesome

  • Martha

    Have Windows XP – have lost sound – get msg that there is no audio
    device installed (multimedia audio controller) and that it is being used
    by another source. Anyone have any solutions?

    • http://lowstuff.com osward

      You might have un installed the sound driver. just re install the sound driver.

  • TechMasterJoe

    save the following in a notepad – quotes
    set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
    pause >nul

    save as hidden.bat
    .bat not .text
    then dbl click on the bat file to run cmd and open devmgmt.msc
    all on auto

  • Barbara Gallicano

    I can’t find out what PPSCAN is in hidden devices. It has a yellow bar next to it. Nothing else has this. I lost the sound but have sound when I use the printer that tells me that the printer is printing and when print ends. I don’t know if I should remove it. I tried RegTool and they went into my computer but evidently didn’t see it or left it. I can’t get an answer from them and they refunded my money.
    Thank You

  • Anonymous

    Need a way to identify unused devices in Device Manger. I have several entries in the “Universal Serial Bus Controllers” and “Human Interface Devices” that are grayed-out and not used. I think this happens when devices are moved from one USB port to another (like I do). Is there a way to identify each of the device entries without having to plug each device in? The problem is that I have more devices than I have USB ports available and swapping devices in and out is confusing. And deleting all of the grayed out ones would cause a lot of reinstalling of the “good” ones.
    Basically how to determine which of the following unused/grayed-out are valid:
    13 grayed-out HID-compliant consumer control devices;
    20 grayed –out HID-compliant devices;
    23 grayed-out USB Human Interface Devices.

  • Garry

    Hi: Followed instructions but still did not find hidden drivers/Root Kits;
    “C:WINDOWSwin32k.sys:1″;”Hidden driver”;”Object is hidden”
    “C:WINDOWSwin32k.sys:2″;”Hidden driver”;”Object is hidden”

    Am I doing something wrong, or is there another technique I can use?

  • Anonymous



  • Anonymous

    Thank you very much buddy………… Thanks a lot for this great work……..

  • ScottieAy

    I know this is a bit late, but this applies to Vista and 7 as well. If you Right Click on My Computer, or Computer, Select Properties, Advanced or Advanced System settings, and Click on Environment Variables, Hit the New button at the bottom under system variables and enter devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices as the variable and the value as 1. This way you will always have the hidden values!

  • Anonymous

    good bit of info. still need info on how to remove the drivers. keeps saying “may be required to boot up computer”. any help would be greatly appreciated

  • Christine Pendergrass

    i can go one face book and to other games onn my computer and listen to radeio and watch t.v program everything good as soon as i get on cafe world it freezes whats the matter

  • satisfy blogger

    wow really appreciate it

  • jay

    works with vista 32bt

  • Anonymous

    Thanks midnite_a
    The method whihc u mentioned is clear, bu the theproblem in my case is that u see few adapters with yello mark over them. I cannot uninstall them, it says to reboot the computer. I m afraid your method doesnt help. Did u understand the situation in my case. I even tried to do it from rehistory editor but still shows, thanks

  • Jane Book

    2010 Please don’t ever lose this article. It helped me tonight!! and I noticed it was posted over 5 years ago. Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all the kind words!!! I’m glad we could help.

  • Nandagopal

    Very useful to enter device manager console

  • http://www.facebook.com/confupavan Pavan Kumar E

    unbelievably awesome..!!!if possible,do contact me for a treat from me..confupavan on fb..

  • Anon

    Dont forget to run as Admin

  • Bubak

    Helps me not… I uninstall driver shown but when I connect device it is detected and driver is installed again. I want to delete newer driver and install older. It is not possible because Windows says “no better driver found for device” or something similar (I’m using WXP in czech).

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaggu.da4 Jaggu Da


  • Sawbona


    Thanks a lot …
    Please ‘do’ keep this article around, it has been very usefull to me.

    In my third W200Pro SP4 transplant to yet another mobo/chipset/cpu things started getting a bit complicated.

    When I seached for a solution and finally came across this post, I undertsood why.

    Can’t begin to tell you just how much old/not present hardware was piled up within ‘hidden devices’, with multiple instances of storage volumes, USB controllers, SCSI drives, CD and DVD Rom units, monitors, IDE and SCSI controllers, etc.

    Now, it’s all squeaky clean … =-)

    Once again, thanks a lot for sharing the knowledge.
    Best regards,

    Buenos Aires

  • Anonymous

    If you right-click My Computer or Computer, select Properties, Advanced, or Advanced System Settings, click on environment variables, system variables play in the bottom under the “New” button, input variables and the value 1 DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES. This way you will always have hidden value.

  • Vegard

    i got  a problem here i dont know what too remove and anyone add me on skype : Vegaboa and help me please , cuz i got weird disorted laggs and i belive its a hidden device in my computer that makes the lagg 
     so please help

  • moey

    hello ive been having an issue i want to remove my nokia e71 driver from the PC running win 7 x86 (32bit) but i dont know what the driver is called

    ive done the show unused drivers command and all that aswell but i dunno where the Nokia e71 driver is located in Device manager

    i would really appreicate help
    thanks in advance


  • Hector

    When I type in devmgmt.msc it says not recognized as an internal or external command.

  • http://www.global-sysinfo.com gsi

    does anyone ever experience with Windows Multipoint Server? I’m having trouble installing my barcode reader. But if I run on safe mode the device works fine. Something to do with USB device mapping or something.

  • A Good Guy

    Thanks a ton! This helped so much! An HP Printer driver was corrupted on install and there wasn’t a log in the Program Files to uninstall. So this worked wonders! Had to uninstall each shown driver manually, but as long as it stops the DEP from flagging the driver we’re good.

  • Imtiaz

    This helped me a lot. Thank You very Much

  • Internet Coupons ani

    I travel a lot so get to connect my laptop to many devices. So I found about 100-150 greyed-out devices, which I had to uninstall one-by-one.

    Is there a program or script to do this more quickly?

    Many tnx,


  • Alex

    Thanks guys, AVG was detecting a hidden driver and showing:
    “C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\akss87kb.SYS”;”Hidden driver”;”Object is hidden”
    as a rootkit! I did not install it because it was showing as a storage controller, Ijust disabled it, did not know what might happen if I uninstall it, does any one know?
    Thank you in advance,

  • Alex

    My AVG was showing the following as a rootkit:
    “C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\akss87kb.SYS”;”Hidden driver”;”Object is hidden” I disabled it, It was showing as storage controller, does anyone know what happens if I uninstall it?
    It gave me a peace of mind,
    Thanks guys.

  • Rich

    Oh man!!! This helped me to finally remove the MotionInJoy drivers, so that my wireless XBox controller could work. Thank you soooo much!

  • Ian

    Thank you for this post it helped me with updating my Panda security, when the older version was removed it did something to the ethernet drivers and I could not access the internet on that machine, with your help I was able to remove the offending drivers and get the machine working again.

    Thanks again.

  • exoLink

    actually it’s not show up other drivers that has been install by ourself. must be use some kind of tools that can detect all drivers that installed. thanks for the nice tips

    • malay

      yesterday I , by mistake I install two drivers in my windows 7(os). now I wan’t to uninstall them.How could I do so.I don;t for what purpose those devices were there .I just install them by mistake .help me..!

  • dante

    thanks dude it helped

  • Julian Courtland-Smith

    Hi David,
    I followed your instructions to the letter, attempting to rid my computer of NVIDIA Graphics Driver 306.97, published by the NVIDIA Corporation. I ran your Uninstall path twice and also a similar path by another expert to no avail, NVIDIA remains lodged in my Control Panel Program. The usual ‘uninstall a program’ does remove NVIDIA momentarily, then after rebooting it’s back again.
    Can you suggest anything else I can do to rid me of NVIDIA’s all embracing tentacles? I updated to Windows 8 a few days ago and have since restored Windows 8 prior to downloading NVIDIA but it still clings on!

    Jules :o)

  • Amanda

    Thank you so much! Yours was the first article I came to that didn’t instruct me to remove the drivers directly through the Registry, which I really wouldn’t be comfortable with. Much appreciated!

  • Albert Cratree

    HI, I have a problem in windows 7 I have a device in auto run in devices which is not the device I plug in I plug in a 2g Sansa Clip it shows up as a 4g in devices in auto run,how can Idelete this from devices in auto run.

  • Theis

    Thanks! Finally a useful answer 🙂

  • Michael E. Graham

    How do I delete the same portable device that shows up everytime I start my Laptop (win7)? I have the same Sprint Laptop Connect device that I no longer use listed over 100 times in my Device Manager.

  • James

    How do you know what drives you can uninstall?

  • Dima

    All I want to say is THANK YOU!
    I finally got rid of the drver causing me random BSOD.

    Thank you again!

  • RnB Phone

    I have a lot of unwanted drivers to uninstall. How to do it in one click ?

  • Devansh

    When i uninstall the driver it shows driver has been uninstalled successfully but keeps showing them again… what should i do ??

  • Nick

    you say “You can find your offending device, right-click, and choose uninstall to remove it from the system completely”, but that does not work for me. I found this site searching for “how to remove unwanted broken devices from device manager when uninstall does not work”. I would appreciate if anyone knows that they tell me. Thank you.

    • Patrick

      I’m experiencing the same problem here,I’m unable to delete dead USB drivers

    • Nick

      it s so bad that my internet has stopped working, both wifi and lan access connect but say limited access and won’t do anything. I bought a USB drive to back up my files before I attempt any repairs and the USB drive won’t install and can’t be seen by the laptop.