Uninstall Hidden Devices, Drivers, and Services

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

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51 Responses to “Uninstall Hidden Devices, Drivers, and Services”

  1. October 29, 2008 at 6:12 pm, Steve said:

    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.”

    Reply

    • November 08, 2008 at 4:15 pm, Jan said:

      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 …)

      Reply

  2. January 03, 2009 at 5:55 pm, Xiotion said:

    THX FOR THIS!!!!! REALLY HELPFULL

    Reply

  3. April 11, 2009 at 1:04 pm, MARS666 said:

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

    Reply

  4. April 29, 2009 at 2:39 am, grace said:

    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

    Reply

  5. May 06, 2009 at 8:01 am, donovan said:

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

    Reply

  6. June 14, 2009 at 5:11 am, Martha said:

    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?

    Reply

    • November 13, 2012 at 3:57 am, osward said:

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

      Reply

  7. June 14, 2009 at 10:35 am, TechMasterJoe said:

    save the following in a notepad – quotes
    “echo
    set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
    devmgmt.msc
    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

    Reply

  8. July 07, 2009 at 11:48 am, Barbara Gallicano said:

    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
    Barbara

    Reply

  9. July 10, 2009 at 12:28 pm, Anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

  10. July 17, 2009 at 12:20 am, Garry said:

    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?

    Reply

  11. August 07, 2009 at 11:52 am, Anonymous said:

    Good

    Thanks

    Reply

  12. August 26, 2009 at 6:21 am, Anonymous said:

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

    Reply

  13. August 28, 2009 at 4:43 pm, ScottieAy said:

    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!

    Reply

  14. October 07, 2009 at 11:44 am, Anonymous said:

    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

    Reply

  15. December 06, 2009 at 11:24 am, Christine Pendergrass said:

    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

    Reply

  16. January 13, 2010 at 9:51 am, satisfy blogger said:

    wow really appreciate it

    Reply

  17. February 24, 2010 at 6:01 am, jay said:

    works with vista 32bt

    Reply

  18. May 12, 2010 at 10:44 am, Anonymous said:

    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

    Reply

  19. May 25, 2010 at 1:09 am, Jane Book said:

    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!

    Reply

  20. June 08, 2010 at 1:36 pm, Anonymous said:

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

    Reply

  21. July 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm, Nandagopal said:

    Very useful to enter device manager console

    Reply

  22. January 15, 2011 at 4:05 am, Pavan Kumar E said:

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

    Reply

  23. January 16, 2011 at 11:23 pm, Anon said:

    Dont forget to run as Admin

    Reply

  24. February 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm, Bubak said:

    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).

    Reply

  25. March 19, 2011 at 10:55 am, Jaggu Da said:

    good

    Reply

  26. March 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm, Sawbona said:

    Hello:

    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,

    CIV
    Buenos Aires
    Argentina

    Reply

  27. July 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm, Anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

  28. July 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm, Vegard said:

    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

    Reply

  29. August 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm, moey said:

    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

    moey

    Reply

  30. October 01, 2011 at 12:09 pm, Hector said:

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

    Reply

  31. October 17, 2011 at 6:32 am, gsi said:

    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.

    Reply

  32. January 09, 2012 at 12:31 am, A Good Guy said:

    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.

    Reply

  33. February 26, 2012 at 10:14 am, Imtiaz said:

    This helped me a lot. Thank You very Much

    Reply

  34. June 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm, Internet Coupons ani said:

    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,

    ani

    Reply

  35. June 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm, Alex said:

    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,

    Reply

  36. June 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm, Alex said:

    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.

    Reply

  37. October 01, 2012 at 10:16 pm, Rich said:

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

    Reply

  38. October 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm, Ian said:

    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.

    Reply

  39. November 09, 2012 at 12:40 pm, exoLink said:

    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

    Reply

    • November 11, 2012 at 10:25 am, malay said:

      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..!

      Reply

  40. December 10, 2012 at 3:25 am, dante said:

    thanks dude it helped

    Reply

  41. January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm, Julian Courtland-Smith said:

    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 )

    Reply

  42. February 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm, Amanda said:

    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!

    Reply

  43. April 04, 2013 at 6:29 am, Albert Cratree said:

    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.

    Reply

  44. May 06, 2013 at 3:18 am, Theis said:

    Thanks! Finally a useful answer :-)

    Reply

  45. June 04, 2013 at 9:58 pm, Michael E. Graham said:

    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.

    Reply

  46. July 14, 2013 at 4:44 pm, James said:

    How do you know what drives you can uninstall?

    Reply

  47. July 30, 2013 at 11:36 am, Dima said:

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

    Thank you again!

    Reply

  48. December 07, 2013 at 9:03 pm, RnB Phone said:

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

    Reply

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