Do you get the error "This device cannot start (Code 10)" in Windows? This error can appear in all versions of Windows and is pretty vague, so it's understandably frustrating.

Let's see what Code 10 is in Windows, the most common reasons for it, and how to fix it.

What is error code 10?

The error "This device cannot start" Code 10 often relates to removable media. It appears when Windows cannot properly run hardware such as a printer or a USB drive.

Because of this, it may appear after Windows tries to install the driver for a new device. Sometimes it can prevent CD drives, bluetooth hardware, or storage devices from showing up in this PC.

You can also see this status for affected devices on the General Tab in their Device Manager entry that we will discuss later. Code 10 is often seen due to problems with audio or USB devices. Let's see the fixes for this issue.

1. Restart your computer

As with most computer problems, sometimes a simple restart can fix this Code 10 problem. You should always do this basic troubleshooting step first to avoid wasting time on more advanced methods.

Restart your computer and then try to access the device again. It's a good idea to unplug the device and plug it back in after restarting just in case you have a loose connection or something similar.

If you still see the error message after doing this basic step, continue with the advanced troubleshooting.

2. Run the hardware device troubleshooting

Windows includes several automated troubleshooters to help you solve various problems. One of them is that Hardware and devices Tool that fixes problems in this area. While there is no guarantee that something will be found, it is worth running if you encounter this problem.

For some reason, Microsoft removed this particular utility from the Troubleshooting Menu in Windows 10, but you can still access it from Command Prompt or PowerShell. To start this, press Profit + X or right-click the Start button and select command prompt or Windows PowerShell from the menu, then enter the following line:

msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic

This will open the troubleshooter in a new window. click Next go through; Once the wizard finishes, you will be notified of any problems found and the results of how to fix them.

3. Check Device Manager for more information

Device Manager gathers information about all of the devices connected to your PC, so it's an important place to check if you're seeing a Code 10 error. To open it, press Profit + X or right-click the Start button and then select Device manager from the menu.

You can expand each category to see the individual devices below. If there is a problem with a device, a small yellow warning label will appear next to it. This should indicate the device causing the error. Double click on such items and enable that Device status Field; if it means This device cannot start (Code 10)then it doesn't work properly.

You should check out all of the categories here; Audio inputs and outputs and Universal serial bus controller are two common culprits. If you don't see the problem with either of the two, look at other USB devices, such as printer and Mice and other pointing devices. If you recently added hardware to your computer, check that out too.

If you find the device that shows an error, try unplugging that device for a few minutes and then plugging it back in. If this has no effect, you should update or remove the driver for this device.

4. Update the hardware drivers

Hardware often behaves incorrectly because you have installed an outdated or incorrect driver for it. Go to Settings> Update & Security> Windows Update to check for new updates, which is always a good idea when you're having Windows issues.

Performing this update check will also find driver updates. These can be viewed under View optional updates> Driver Updates, so check there too.

To update a specific driver that doesn't show up there, right-click it in Device Manager and select Update drivers> Search for drivers automatically. This will check your computer for a newer driver.

If that doesn't work, search for the name of your device online to see if a newer driver is available from the manufacturer. Follow our guide on updating old Windows drivers for more help. If the latest driver doesn't work (the manufacturer may have provided a bad update), you can try installing an older version. This isn't a good long-term solution, but it's worth a try.

5. Uninstall non-functional drivers

If updating the device driver doesn't work, the next thing to try is replacing or removing the driver. Right click on the problematic device and select properties, followed by the driver Tab for some options.

selection Rollback driver undoes all current updates and reverts to the previous version. However, this is only accessible if there is an older version to fall back on.

If this is not possible, then you need to choose Uninstall device to completely remove it from your system. Then restart. Windows should install generic drivers for some devices such as mice and keyboards on restart. However, you will likely need all of the proprietary drivers, e.g. B. for gaming mice, reinstall manually.

Hopefully an updated driver will cause the Code 10 error to exit. If not, there are other ways to resolve the "Device will not start" message.

6. Try a different USB port or hub

Once you've determined which device is causing the Code 10 error, try plugging it into a different USB port on your computer. There is a possibility that your USB connection is faulty, causing a communication problem between the device and your PC.

If you use basic USB hubs with your computer, consider replacing them with self-powered models. A USB hub that has its own power source, such as the Sabrent 4-port USB 3.0 hub, is more reliable than a USB hub that is powered by your PC.

7. Delete UpperFilters and LowerFilters from the registry

As an advanced step, you can delete a pair of registry values ​​related to filter drivers that work between Windows and the hardware. Deleting these can sometimes fix the Code 10 error.

Improper changes in the registry can cause additional problems, so be careful during this process:

  1. Press Profit + r the open Run Dialog box and enter regedit to start the registry editor.

  2. Use the navigation tree on the left to navigate to the following location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM CurrentControlSet Control Class.

  3. With the class key expands, you will see many keys underneath, which are long strings of characters. These GUIDs (Globally Unique Identifiers) all correspond to the different hardware types in the Device Manager.

Now you need to find the correct GUID for the type of device you are looking for.

To do this, go back to Device Manager and double-click the device with a problem. Switch to details Tab in the resulting window and change the property Dropdown box too Class guide.

A value appears in the field below that corresponds to one of the keys in the registry.

Back in the registry editor, click the appropriate string in the left pane of the registry to open its contents in the right pane. Some of these look the same so make sure you get the right one.

Once you are in the correct folder:

  1. search for Upper filter and Lower filter Items. You may only see one of them, which is fine. If you don't see either, check that you have the correct GUID. If you are sure you got it right and you still don't see them, this won't work for you.

  2. Right click on Upper filter and or Lower filter and choose Clear. Acknowledge the warning and the file will be deleted.

  3. Restart your computer and check the device again to see if it works.

Note that depending on the GUID you deleted, some software using these devices may not work properly until you reinstall them.

8. Test your hardware elsewhere

If you still see Code 10 at this point, you probably have a faulty device. If possible, try connecting the hardware to another computer and see if it works at all.

If it doesn't work on another system, you should contact the manufacturer or replace the device. If it works on another system, the problem is with your computer.

9. Perform a system restore or reset

If you've tested your device working on a different computer, you can do a System Restore to see if something is Windows that is preventing the hardware from working. This will bring your system back to an earlier point in time, which is useful if the problem has occurred recently.

If that fails, you can do a full Windows reset, but that's probably overkill for this problem. Hardware problems, especially at this point, are usually a problem with the device itself. But if your device works elsewhere and you don't mind trying, a Windows 10 reset could possibly solve the problem.

Fix error code 10 in Windows: Success

Now you know what to do if Windows says "This device won't start (Code 10)". Hopefully, you didn't have to do a lot of troubleshooting to get your hardware back up and running. Troubleshooting driver errors is never fun, but knowing where to look helps.

However, this is not the only external device issue that you will encounter. You may also find that Windows does not display your external storage device correctly, even if it recognizes it.

Photo credit: Cavan-Images / Shutterstock

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About the author

Ben Stegner
(1712 published articles)

Ben is the Assistant Editor and Onboarding Manager at MakeUseOf. He quit his IT job in 2016 to write full-time and has never looked back. He has been a professional writer reporting on technical tutorials, video game recommendations, and more for over seven years.

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By Ben Stegner

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