Seeing the “This device cannot start (Code 10)” error in Windows? This error can appear in all versions of Windows and is quite vague, so it’s understandably frustrating.Let’s look at what code 10 is in Windows, common reasons for why it happens, and how to fix it.

What Is Error Code 10?

The code 10 error “this device Cannot start ” is usually related to removable devices. Appears when Windows cannot run a certain piece of hardware (such as a printer or USB drive) correctly.

Therefore, you may see it after Windows tries to install a driver for a new device. Sometimes it prevents CD drives, Bluetooth hardware or storage devices from appearing on this PC.

You will also see this status of the affected device on the “General” tab of the “Device Manager” entry, which we will discuss later. Code 10 usually appears due to an audio or USB device problem. Let’s see the solution to this problem.

1. Reboot Your Computer

As with most computer problems, you can sometimes solve this code 10 problem with a simple restart. You should always perform this basic troubleshooting step first, so that you don’t waste time unnecessarily on more advanced methods.

Restart the computer, and then try to access the device again. It is best to unplug the device and reinsert it after restarting to prevent loose connections or other reasons.

If the error message still appears after performing this basic step, please proceed to more advanced troubleshooting.

2. Run the Hardware Device Troubleshooter

Windows includes several automated troubleshooters that help you solve various problems. One of them is the Hardware and Devices tool, which fixes issues in this area. While it’s not guaranteed to find anything, it’s worth running when you have this issue.

For some reason, Microsoft removed this particular utility from the Troubleshoot menu in Windows 10, but you can still access it through the Command Prompt or PowerShell. To launch this, press Win + X or right-click on the Start button and choose 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 to walk through it; once the wizard completes, it will let you know of any issues it found and the results for fixing them.

How to Fix "This Device Cannot Start (Code 10)" Error in Windows

3. Check the Device Manager for More Info

The Device Manager collects information about all the devices connected to your PC, so when you see a code 10 error, this is an important place to check.​​ To open it, press Win + X or right-click the “Start” button. Then select the “Device Manager” menu from it.

You can expand each category to see the devices below it. If there is a problem with the device, you will see a small yellow warning sign next to it; this should indicate the device that caused the error. Double-click any of these items and check the device status field; if it says that this device cannot start (code 10), it is not working properly.

How to Fix "This Device Cannot Start (Code 10)" Error in Windows

You must check all categories here; audio input and output and universal serial bus controllers are two common culprits. If you find no problems on any of these devices, check other USB devices, such as printers and mice, and other pointing devices. If you have recently added any hardware to your computer, please also check.

When you find an error device, please try to unplug the device for a few minutes and then plug it in again. If this does not work, you must update or delete the device driver.

4. Update Hardware Drivers

Often, a piece of hardware misbehaves because you have an outdated or incorrect driver installed for it. Head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update to check for new updates, which is always a good idea when you’re having Windows trouble.

Running this check for updates will also find driver updates. These can appear under View optional updates > Driver updates, so make sure to check there too.

How to Fix "This Device Cannot Start (Code 10)" Error in Windows

To update a specific driver that doesn’t appear there, right-click it in the Device Manager and choose Update driver > Search automatically for drivers. This will check to see if your computer has updated drivers.

If this doesn’t work, look up your device name online to see if there is an updated driver provided by the manufacturer. Follow our guide to update your old Windows driver for more help. If the latest driver doesn’t work (maybe the manufacturer has introduced a problematic update), you can try installing the older version. This is not a good long-term solution, but it is worth a try.

How to Fix "This Device Cannot Start (Code 10)" Error in Windows

5. Uninstall Non-Functional Drivers

If the device driver update does not work, you should try to replace or delete the driver. Right-click the problem device and select “Properties”, then select the “Driver” tab to view some options.

How to Fix "This Device Cannot Start (Code 10)" Error in Windows

Choosing to roll back the driver will roll back any recent updates and revert to the previous version. However, you can only access it when you want to revert to the previous version.

If you cannot perform this operation, you must select “Uninstall device” to completely remove it from the system. After doing so, reboot. Windows should install generic drivers for certain devices (like mouse and keyboard) when it restarts. However, you may need to manually reinstall manufacturer-specific drivers, such as drivers for gaming mice.

I hope the updated driver will prevent the code 10 error. Otherwise, there are more ways to fix the “device cannot start” message.

6. Try Another USB Port or Hub

If you’ve determined which device caused the code 10 error, try connecting it to another USB port on your computer. There may be a problem with your USB port, causing communication problems between the device and the PC.

Also, if your computer uses any basic USB hub, consider replacing it with powered models. USB hubs with their own power supply, such as Sabrent’s 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub, are more reliable than hubs that rely on PC power.

7. Delete UpperFilters and LowerFilters in the Registry

As an advanced step, you can remove a couple of registry values ​​related to the filter driver, which work between Windows and the hardware. Clearing these can sometimes resolve the code 10 error.

Making incorrect changes to the registry can cause more problems, so be careful during this process:

  1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box and enter regedit to launch the Registry Editor.
  2. Use the navigation tree on the left side to browse to the following location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class.
  3. With the Class key expanded, you’ll see many keys below it that are long strings of characters. These GUIDs (Globally Unique Identifiers) all correspond to different types of hardware in the Device Manager.

Now, you’ll need to find the correct GUID for the type of device you’re looking for.

To do this, head back to the Device Manager and double-click on the device having a problem. Switch to the Details tab on the resulting window and change the Property dropdown box to Class Guid.

Value will appear in the box below, which matches one of the keys in the Registry.

Go back to the registry editor and click on the corresponding string in the left pane of the registry to open its contents in the right pane. Some look similar, so make sure you find the right one.

After entering the correct folder:

  1. Look for the UpperFilters and LowerFilters items. You might only see one of them, which is fine. If you don’t see either, double-check that you’ve got the correct GUID. If you’re sure you have it right and still don’t see them, then this will not work for you.
  2. Right-click on UpperFilters and/or LowerFilters and choose Delete. Confirm the warning and the file will be erased.
  3. Restart your computer, then check the device again to see if it’s working.

Note that depending on which GUID you erased, some software that used those devices might not work properly until you reinstall it.

8. Test Your Hardware Elsewhere

At this point, if you still see code 10, your device may be malfunctioning. If possible, try connecting the hardware to another computer and see if it works.

If it does not work on other systems, you must contact the manufacturer or replace the device. If it works on another system, the problem is with your machine.

9. Perform a System Restore or Reset

If you have tested that your device works on another computer, you can try System Restore to see if there are any Windows quirks that prevent the hardware from working. This will return your system to an earlier point in time, which is useful when the problem started recently.

If this operation fails, you can restart Windows completely, but this may be a bit too much for this problem. Hardware problems, especially at this point, are usually problems with the device itself. However, if your device is working elsewhere and you don’t mind trying, resetting Windows 10 may solve the problem.

Fixing Error Code 10 in Windows: Success

Now you know what to do when you see “This device cannot be started (code 10)” in Windows. Hope you can get your hardware working again without much troubleshooting. Fixing driver errors is never a fun thing, but it helps to know where to look.

However, this is not the only external device problem you will encounter. You may also find that Windows cannot display your external storage device properly even if it detects it.

Related: How to Dual Boot Windows 11 with Windows 10