How To Fix “Error: Device Cannot Start. (Code 10)”
Windows operating systems have a Device Manager that gives a quick view of all hardware devices attached to a computer. It also allows you to check their status and manage these devices. If the Device Manager cannot detect a hardware device, it won’t appear on this window.
Sometimes the Device Manager detects hardware, but it shows a vague yet problematic status:
This device cannot start. (Code 10)
Dealing with this error can be frustrating because the Device Manager doesn’t go into specifics about what is actually wrong with an input device. And often, the problem has nothing to do with the device itself but with its drivers.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the “code 10 device cannot start” error and what you can do to resolve it quickly and easily.
What Does “This device cannot start. (code 10)” Mean?
First things first: what does “device cannot start Code 10” mean?
It tells us that the computer tried to link with a device, but an error occurred instead. The message, “The requested operation was unsuccessful,” usually follows. Fortunately, the hardware in question is always indicated in the Device Manager, so there’s your starting point for troubleshooting.
Most of the time, “This device cannot start code 10” has something to do with your computer’s USB or audio devices. It means the Device Manager couldn’t start your USB when you plugged it in or turn your speakers on when you tried to play a media file. Here are a few other common reasons for this error message:
- The devices are corrupted.
- The devices aren’t correctly plugged into your computer.
- You recently updated your computer, and it can no longer work with your USB or speakers’ drivers, which are outdated.
- Your Windows OS is due for an update.
Keeping these possibilities in mind guides our next steps to fix this error.
But can you troubleshoot “code 10 this device cannot start” on your own? Sure, you can. There’s usually no need to call an IT expert unless it becomes necessary to locate and fix driver registry entries manually. But it might not have to come to that.
8 Simple Ways to Fix Code 10 This Device Cannot Start Error
Before you call your company’s IT guy or pay for professional troubleshooting, try one of these simple fixes first:
1. Check if the device is properly plugged into your computer.
A USB stick, speakers, printer, or other external hardware may not work correctly simply because the connecting jack is loose. Check the connections and ensure they are properly secured in your computer’s ports.
2. Reboot your computer.
An age-old troubleshooting technique, restarting your computer is one of the easiest fixes for a “device cannot start code 10” error. Once your computer is switched on again, see if the Device Manager can finally recognize the connection. You’re good to go if nothing happens or the Device Manager no longer pops up with the same error message.
3. Run the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter.
Windows has a built-in program that’s very helpful in identifying problems that occur when installing new hardware or drivers and then fixing those issues. Once the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter detects an issue, it will show a prompt asking for permission to fix the problem.
This built-in troubleshooter is readily available from the Control Panel or easily searched in earlier versions of Windows OS.
Windows 7 – 8: Control Panel > System and Security > Troubleshoot common computer problems / Find and fix problems > Hardware and Sound > Configure a device > Hardware and Devices
Windows 10: Windows icon > Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot > Hardware and Devices
However, since the Windows 10 update v1809 and onwards, the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter has become harder to access. According to reports, Windows removed direct access to the troubleshooter from the Control Panel because it had low daily usage and was usually run in tandem with other troubleshooting tools.
Hardware and Devices was one tool that provided troubleshooting solutions for all computer hardware, making it cumbersome and not thorough enough. This is probably another reason why Windows decided to split the troubleshooting tool and provide options for each of the hardware that often needs troubleshooting:
- Video playback
- Internet connection
So if you get a code 10 device cannot start error in a Windows 10 or 11 computer, here’s how you can detect and troubleshoot the issue:
Windows 10 (v1809) – 11: Launch command prompt (Windows button + X > Windows Terminal (Admin)) > type this command: msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic > Hardware and Devices
4. Roll back a device driver.
Rolling back a device driver means undoing the recent changes or updates to the device’s driver. This is a possible fix if you didn’t update your Windows OS yet, but the device in question has automatically updated its drivers.
Open the Device Manager and click the device whose driver you want to roll back, and follow these steps:
Expand hardware components > choose which driver to roll back > right click, select Properties > Driver tab > Roll Back Driver
5. Update the drivers for the device.
Conversely, a possible cause for a Code 10 error is your device drivers are outdated. It’s even more probable if you recently downloaded and installed a Windows system update.
To do this, follow the same steps above but instead of the “Roll Back Driver” button, click “Update Driver” instead.
You can also do a computer-wide check on drivers that need updating.
Windows + X > Device Manager > Universal Serial Bus Controllers > right-click, Scan for hardware changes
Using automatic update software is an even better and more convenient way of updating your drivers.
Driver Support | ONE is an excellent example. The software tracks all hardware connected to your computer and any updates from verified sources (i.e., manufacturing companies and official app stores). Driver Support | ONE determines if a new update is necessary for your device to work; if it is, the software will automatically update the driver without needing a manual prompt from you.
6. Update your Windows OS.
If your hardware drivers are all up-to-date, another option besides rolling them all back is simply updating your OS.
Updating your Windows is more optimal because it helps ensure all your hardware is working well and much-needed security patches remain updated. Windows continuously rolls out these updates so that users can make the most of their Windows computers. In addition, considering that technology is always moving forward, updating your Windows OS can spare you more headaches in the future.
Here’s how to update your Windows:
Windows 10 – 11: Go to Settings or type Windows Update Settings on the search bar > Open app > Check for updates.
7. Uninstall USB controllers (for Code 10 errors involving USB drivers)
If “this device cannot start code 10” appears after your Windows update, and you don’t like rolling back drivers, disabling then re-enabling your USB controller is another fix you can try. What’s good about this solution is it won’t affect your PC or USB devices; it will simply give the latter a basic reboot.
Windows 8: Open Control Panel > System > Hardware tab > Device Manager > Universal USB Controllers > right-click all USB controllers and click “Uninstall”
Windows 10 – 11: Open Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers > Device Manager > Universal Serial bus Controllers > right-click all USB controllers and click “Uninstall”.
Restart your computer. It will automatically reinstall all USB controllers upon restart. Plug in your USB again, and it should be detected with no problem.
8. Test your device on other computers.
This isn’t technically a fix but more to check if a device is defective and needs replacing. If it doesn’t work on other computers, the device itself could be the problem. You might want to consider getting a new one instead.
Hopefully, one of these suggestions will help you solve a “This device cannot start. (code 10)” error as quickly as possible.
If you need assistance in this matter and other IT concerns, consider subscribing to Driver Support | ONE, a driver update tracking and monitoring service that keeps your computers and devices up to date.
Please contact us for any inquiries or questions that you may have.