8 Fixes For The “this device cannot start. (code 10)” Error

In this post, we provide 8 fixes for the “This device cannot start. (code 10)” issue- some are pretty easy, while others are a bit more involved. But we have faith that we can help you fix this annoying tech problem.

If you’ve plugged a new hardware into your computer, you might sometimes encounter an error which says “This device cannot start. (code 10)”. Fortunately, though, this error is actually pretty common, which only means that fixing the issue is relatively easy.

In this article, we’ll talk more about this specific error message, what it does, and how you can fix it.

Lots Of Complaints

As you can see on Twitter, lots of people experience this problem:

What is the Code 10 Error?

The code 10 error is a common error which is usually associated with device drivers. It usually appears when you try to install a new device such as speakers and microphones into your computer or when your PC gets plugged in with a particular flash drive or storage device for the first time.

The code 10 error is present in operating systems that are running Windows 7, 8, 10, Vista, and XP, displaying the following message on the Device Manager window saying “This device cannot start. (Code 10).”

Frequently, this error pops up when your Device Manager is unable to start or load the hardware device into your system most likely due to corrupted or outdated drivers. Other causes include faulty installations of recent software and cluttered computer registries. The error itself is quite broad in scope, so there might be other reasons out there that will cause it to come up on your device aside from the ones mentioned above.

How to Fix the Code 10 Error?

Receiving a Code 10 error on your computer can be quite a hassle, but fortunately, getting around this problem is not that difficult. Feel free to try out the possible fixes listed down below to get your devices up and running as soon as possible.

1st Fix: Restart Your Computer

Oftentimes, a temporary problem in the Device Manager or with the hardware itself may be the underlying cause of a Code 10 error. Lifewire suggests that you try restarting your computer a couple of times to see if the problem will resolve itself.

2nd Fix: Restore the System

A Code 10 error may be caused by recent changes you may have made on your computer such as program updates. Drivers recommends reviewing recent changes made in the system and using System Restore to reboot the computer back to a state when the device still worked properly.

Doing a System Restore varies among Windows versions so you might want to go through this guide by Lifewire to see how to do it on your system. In this guide, we’re going to assume you’re using Windows 7. Here’s how:

  1. Head to the Start Menu, then click All Programs > Accessories > System Tools.
  2. Look for the System Restore icon and click on it.
  3. A “Restore system files and settings” window will then appear. Simply click Next.
  4. From the list of restore points, choose one which is closest to the date when the issue occurred. Click Next afterward.
  5. Once the “Confirm your restore point” window appears, all you have to do is click Finish.
  6. A dialog box will appear asking if you want to continue the process. Click Yes.
  7. System Restore will now start restoring your system back to the time before the issue occurred. Your computer will then restart after that.
  8. Upon rebooting, you will see a message saying “System Restore completed successfully”.
  9. Click Close then check if the problem regarding code 10 error is fixed.
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Video Guide: How To Perform A System Restore

3rd Fix: Check if You Inserted an External Device into the Right Slot

This trick only applies to This device cannot start. (Code 10) USB errors. According to Help Desk Geek the cause for the error might be mismatched USB ports. Inserting a 2.0 flash drive into a USB 1.1 port or a 1.1 flash drive into a USB 2.0 port might cause problems with transfer speeds, sometimes causing the Device Manager to fail at installing the device. To solve this, you can simply purchase a USB cable at your local tech store, preferably one that is compatible with your flash drive.

4th Fix: Update Your Drivers

Remember that one of the main causes for a Code 10 error is an outdated driver. In order to remedy this problem, follow this step by step guide provided by Microsoft to update your device driver via Windows Update.

  1. Press the Start button on your taskbar.
  2. From the menu, select All Programs and click Windows Update
  3. Wait for Windows Update finish before you try to install your device again.

Video Guide: How To Update Your Drivers For Free In Windows 10

5th Fix: Reinstall Your Drivers

If updating the drivers does not resolve the matter, try uninstalling then reinstalling your device drivers with this guide from Driver Easy.

  1. Open Device Manager.
  2. Look for the device that is causing the Code 10 error.
  3. Once you’ve found it, right click and select Uninstall. Another window should appear asking you to confirm the uninstallation. Before clicking OK, make sure you check the small box next to “Delete the driver software for this device”
  4. Finally, restart your PC and reinstall the device.

6th Fix: Reregister a DLL File

Another device that sometimes experiences the Code 10 error is the Bluetooth adaptor driver.  According to Microsoft, the root cause of the “This device cannot start. (Code 10) Bluetooth” error is a missing or corrupted btmshellex.dll file. The solution is to re-register the problematic file by following these steps:

  1. Type CMD on the search bar in the Start menu.
  2. Right click on CMD and have it Run as Administrator. After doing so, a command prompt window would open.
  3. On the command prompt window, type “regsvr32 /u btmshellex.dll” and hit Enter once you are through. By doing this, you are removing the btmshellex.dll file from the registry.
  4. After the previous step, type “regsvr32 btmshellex.dll” to re-register the same file once more then press Enter.
  5. Restart your computer to put into effect the changes you made.

Video Guide: How To Re-Register All Of The DLL’s On Your Computer

7th Fix: Set the Windows Audio Service to Automatic

This solution applies to a Code 10 error on the system’s audio device, which can be a bummer especially if you are using your laptop or PC to listen to music, stream videos or play online games due to the absence of sounds. Fortunately, Appuals has a fix to this problem that you can do in a few steps.

  1. Press the Windows Key and the R button to open a Run Window.
  2. On the dialog box, key in “services.msc” and press Enter. A window will open, containing a list of services on your PC.
  3. Look for the Windows Audio service on the right pane. Double click it to open a menu.
  4. On the drop-down menu beside Startup type, select Automatic to let the Windows Audio service start immediately as soon as your computer is powered on. Click Apply and OK.
  5. Restart your PC to see the changes take effect.

8th Fix: Install a Fresh Copy of Windows

If the problem still persists, Solvusoft says your best bet would be to perform a clean reinstallation of your operating system. Perform this fix last because it can be pretty time consuming and will require you to back up all your old files.

Video Guide: How To Reinstall/Clean Install Windows 10

Forum Feedback

We searched through different Microsoft support boards and forums to find out more about this device cannot start (code 10).

In general, people wanted to know about this device cannot start. (code 10) Wi-Fi and Ethernet, this device cannot start. (code 10) fix, this device cannot start. (code 10), {operation failed} the requested operation was unsuccessful, and this device cannot start. (code 10) portable devices.

They were also interested in this device cannot start (code 10) high definition audio controller- it frequently occurs with Dell Bluetooth devices, Lenovo touchpad, the Intel WiFi driver, the Realtek Bluetooth driver, Razer keyboard drivers, Blue Snowball drivers on Windows 10, and the Synaptics Touchpad driver on Windows 10.

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Bluetooth adapter device cannot start code 10

A computer user shared that he ran into a problem after he updated his Windows 10. He couldn’t start his audio because he kept getting the error that the device cannot start (Code 10). The person ran the troubleshooter, as suggested by some tech support board member, but it didn’t do anything. Next, he updated the drivers for the audio, but it didn’t solve the audio issue.

Another computer owner was experiencing the same problem, and after spending several hours trying to fix it unsuccessfully, he went looking for help on the Microsoft support board.

  • They explained that the error “This device cannot start (Code 10)” was related to the Device manager and that it appeared when the Device Manager couldn’t start a device or when one of the necessary drivers didn’t start properly.
  • Support suggested that he updated the drivers through the Windows update in case there were any compatibility issues.

Another computer expert said that if you get the error that this device cannot start, you should start fixing the problem by opening the Device Manager. He added you see a yellow warning if there was a problem with any of your drivers and that it would help you narrow down the culprit.

An individual also points out that you should update your drivers in Safe Mode with Networking if you continue to get the same mistake. The user explains that starting a device in Safe Mode depends on your Windows version and that for Windows 10, you can do it by interrupting the normal booting of Windows three times in a row. Then you have to select Troubleshoot  Advanced options Startup Settings  Restart and then press F5.

Another person complained that after the Fall Creators update, he started having problems with his Bluetooth adapter.

  • He couldn’t connect any Bluetooth devices to his computer, because he kept getting the error that the device cannot start (code 10).
  • The user tried to uninstall/reinstall the drivers, but it didn’t do the trick, and he couldn’t uninstall the Windows update.
  • So, he contacted Microsoft support, who said that the problem was related to a missing or corrupted DLL file. They recommend that he should attempt to unregister the DLL file, then register it a new, and restart the device.
  • Fortunately, the solution worked, and he was able to use Bluetooth again.

Another computer owner was also having issues with Bluetooth after an update, and he got the same error message.

  • The user ran the Troubleshooter, which detected a problem with the Bluetooth driver but was unable to find a solution for it.
  • So, he tried to update the drivers and uninstall/reinstall them, but he was unsuccessful.
  • However, overnight the problem disappeared so he thought that a Windows update bug might have caused it.

A forum poster stated that he was trying to access some files on a USB device, but he kept getting the message that the device cannot start.

  • He was baffled because he was able to load the USB in Windows 7 and Windows 8.
  • Other members of the Microsoft support board suggested that he restart the computer and see if that would fix the problem.
  • They also said that he could uninstall the USB from the Device Manager and then insert it again so that the computer could detect it and install it anew.

A person commented that he also had problems with the audio drivers after a Windows update and that he followed the suggestions of Microsoft support with no effect. Finally, they told him that he might have to do a clean install of Windows to fix the problem or contact his driver’s manufacturer for additional information.

Another commentator remarked that if you have plugged an external device into your computer and it’s saying that this device cannot start, you should try to plug it in a different port. He said that it’s possible the port is not working correctly. The user also mentioned that you might try to switch off/on the external device and try again.


The device cannot start. (code 10) issue can be a tough experience. If none of the above suggestions worked to put an end to your problem, it is highly advised that you contact a professional to personally figure out the real reason for the error and recommend you an appropriate solution.

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