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.
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.