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Unknown Device in Device Manager for USB device in WinXP

Posted on 2003-02-26
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Last Modified: 2008-10-13
I have a USB device for which I have the proper driver.  When I install the device, WinXP immediately recognizes the device as "New Hardware, USB Device", and then "Unknown Device".  Device manager shows it as a USB Unknown Device.  Device properties shows that there is no driver installed when Driver details is clicked.  I have tried uninstalling the device and re-installing, bet I haven't been able to get any other result.  I have the valid device driver from the manufacturer, but clicking "Have Disk" doesn't allow me to load the correct driver either.

Is there some way to "purge" all reference to the device in the registry and start over?

I've tried to word my question in a generic way, since I've had this problem with 2 different devices.  It seems to occur if the device hardware is initially installed without the driver, and you later try to install the correct driver.
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Question by:bweyrauch
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tedsky earned 500 total points
ID: 8030706
Greetings!

Many manufacturers of USB devices have specific routines that one should adhere to when setting up the device.
This changes with each manufacturer, so there is not one standard method, unfortunately.
Since USB is still a relatively new interface standard (only things newer are firewire, bluetooth, and wireless).
Serial has been with us since before Win95 as have parallel, SCSI and infrared.

You can purge all reference to this/these devices by rebooting into Safe Mode, or (as a few have suggested to date) showing hidden devices in the hardware's device manager setting "View".

Hope this helps!
Ted
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Expert Comment

by:Guybrush22
ID: 8032864
sometimes i have a lot of trouble installing drivers in windows xp, when windows xp automatically tries to install a device for you.  what i usually do is just go to the properties and choose to update the driver. its worth a shot although unlikely it will work.
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by:Pete Long
ID: 9038579
bweyrauch,
No comment has been added lately (153 days), so it's time to clean up this TA.
I will leave a recommendation in the Cleanup topic area for this question:

RECOMMENDATION: Award points to tedsky
Please leave any comments here within 7 days.

-- Please DO NOT accept this comment as an answer ! --

Thanks,

PeteLong
EE Cleanup Volunteer
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Author Comment

by:bweyrauch
ID: 9038728
I solved this problem myself.  For me, the solution was to delete all USB controller items in the Device manager, then let XP re-install the entire USB driver system.  I have got this to work on 3 different machines.  It seems that once a particular USB device ID is registered as unknown, WinXP will always revert to the same unknown device, and not allow a new driver to be used.  By completely deleting the USB controller and letting XP rebuild, the registry is cleaned up, and the device then installs properly.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  I've usually gotten this problem to present itself by someone installing a USB device without having the correct driver available.  If installation is attempted without a driver, the "Unknown Device" winds up stuck in the system.
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Expert Comment

by:tedsky
ID: 9134363
Greetings again,

Perhaps upon re-reading my suggestion, restated from above ...
"You can purge all reference to this/these devices by rebooting into Safe Mode, or (as a few have suggested to date) showing hidden devices in the hardware's device manager setting "View"."

One might notice it is much the same (just re-worded) as ...
"For me, the solution was to delete all USB controller items in the Device manager, then let XP re-install the entire USB driver system"

Also ...
"I have got this to work on 3 different machines"

How about hundreds of machines?
Pretty much a sytems approach (start in Safe Mode, remove duplications and/or unwanted entries from Device Manager).

Not sure why points would be refunded.
Thanks in advance,
Ted
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Author Comment

by:bweyrauch
ID: 9134525
Hi from bweyrauch

I think the solution tedsky describes is different from the one that worked for me.  I tried the method described by booting into safe mode and deleting the hidden devices.  This was not sufficient to solve the problem.  It was also necessary (as I described previously) to delete the (NOT hidden) USB root hubs, host controllers, etc. until the entire USB system had been removed.  Only after this operation, and the rebuild of the USB stack did my device get registered correctly.  I hope this clears up the difference in the two answers.

Regards,
Bruce
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Expert Comment

by:tedsky
ID: 9134892
Hello again, Bruce!

Not trying to be unreasonable here.

After my post, there was -no- response from you for approximately -5- months (about 160 days) until a moderator requested something from you.
If you had -any- question (or required any clarification) on what I had posted, I'd have gladly welcomed (and provided) it.

As it was, since your own words asked ...
"Is there some way to "purge" all reference to the device in the registry and start over?"
the presumption here is that you were already aware of how to remove shown devices (since you mentioned trying that already), hence only suggestions to address hiden devices were made ...
"I have tried uninstalling the device and re-installing, bet I haven't been able to get any other result."
That was taken to mean that you had tried to "remove" these devices.

Understandably, you asked about "purging from the registry".

True, I did not address registry editing to do this, and I do so only as a last resort (or when all else fails).

However (as you yourself later discovered, and evidently without anyone's assistance), this appeared not to be necessary.

I am happy for you that you discovered the device manager method of removing device entries.
I am uncertain about how my suggestion differs from your eventual resolution.
I am appreciative of the points, though that is secondary to my purpose here, which is to try to assist people with their issues (with the only true compensation being the knowledge that something i/we did made a difference).

Sincerely,
Ted
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Expert Comment

by:tedsky
ID: 9134911
Chmod,

In fact, I was away for an extended long weekend (here in Ontario, we have a "civic holiday" the 1st Monday in August).
Therefore, your and Bruce's posts coming just before that weekend, I missed them until your follow-up arrived several days after my return.

My apologies,
Ted
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Author Comment

by:bweyrauch
ID: 9136028
Hello Ted!
I appreciate your efforts regarding this issue.  First of all, I apologize for my extremely slow response initially.  I am new to using experts exchange, and am now starting to monitor it more frequently.  Secondly, I'd like to try to answer your last response, and clarify the difference between my final solution and the one you suggested.

You said "I am happy for you that you discovered the device manager method of removing device entries."  I may not have been clear, but I had tried both the standard removal of my USB device, and removal while in safe mode.  Upon re-install,  the USB device was immediately recognized as an unknown device, and I could not get the proper driver installed.

You also were "uncertain about how my suggestion differs from your eventual resolution."  The key difference is this:  I not only removed the unknown USB device.  I also removed all of the USB Root Hubs, and the USB Host Controllers.  None of this was done in safe mode, but directly from the device manager.  This process seems to remove all record of the USB system from the registry.  After this complete removal of ALL USB controllers, I selected "Scan for Hardware Changes".  The USB Host controller, and Root Hubs were re-installed automatically by Windows.  I then started the installation of my device from scratch, making sure to install the driver properly when requested.

I must admit I'm not completely sure why this worked, when removal of the device by itself does not.  One thing I am pretty confident about after numerous experiences with different USB devices and XP is that if the proper driver is not installed when the device is initally connected, the dreaded "Unknown Device" will appear the next time the device is attached.

I hope this long-winded description helped explain the key difference between our solutions.  Complete removal and rebuild of the USB system vs removal of only the Unknown device. I'm not overly concerned about the points either,  I just want to make sure that the solution that I found to work reliably is well enough described for others to follow.

Thanks again for your participation in the experts exchange.  I'm finding that it is an excellent source of information.

Best regards,
Bruce

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Expert Comment

by:tedsky
ID: 9136746
Hello again,

Now -I'll- try to be clearer ...

Nothing short of a complete removal of all devices (didn't see a need to spell it out, as explained earlier) was the intent (as is always, from a systems approach).

How else would one be able to re-generate registry code without delving into the arduous task of registry editing (other than which you might as well succumb to a full fresh reinstall of the OS)?

"I must admit I'm not completely sure why this worked, when removal of the device by itself does not.  One thing I am pretty confident about after numerous experiences with different USB devices and XP is that if the proper driver is not installed when the device is initally connected, the dreaded "Unknown Device" will appear the next time the device is attached. "

It worked because you did what was necessary (even though you may not agree that this is what was "implied", above).

The only way (short of a complete and fresh reinstall of the OS) is to remove and eradicate ALL device entries and associated drivers for the entire group.

The only place this cannot be done is with master IDE controllers, as these are fundamental to the delivery of the primary and secondary devices to the OS.

So, I stand by my original statement that we were not really that much different - only if you wish to slice the loaf with a finer-edged implement, I would say ;).

Bottom line ... you have a solution, matters not from whence it came.
(And we are all satisfied with these results, I might add)

Cheers!
Ted
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by:tedsky
ID: 9147841
What was it the dude in the movie said ... "If loving you is wrong, I don't wanna be right" ... ?
You might say that since I love EE, being right is simply a matural by-product of providing help to those who seek it.
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by:tedsky
ID: 9148534
(But I could be wrong ;)
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