Fixing Windows XP Device Manager Errors


winlogo.jpgEvery now and then it's going to happen, you install a new piece of hardware in your Computer, boot up Windows XP and something goes wrong with plug an play while adding the hardware. So you put on your troubleshooting hat, stare at the error message that usually does not make sense, and decide it's time to take a look in XP's Device Manager for clues.

Hopefully it's an easy fix…

More often than not that scenario occurs when you have no time and you are anxious to use that shiny new hardware such as an iPod, MP3 player or Wireless Network card. While some error messages may be an easy fix, Device Manager often points out the failed device but with a cryptic description of the problem.

To help with the error code description, Microsoft article, Explanation of error codes generated by Device Manager in Microsoft Windows XP Professional is a good source that provides more information of the codes. While the description may not completely solve your problem, I have found it to be a good starting point that eventually led me to resolving issues with hardware problems.

Below lists an explanation of the symbols that indicates the type of problem and is usually present with failed device:

  • A black exclamation point ("!" on a yellow field indicates the device is in a problem state. Note that a device that is in a problem state can be functioning.
  • A yellow exclamation point indicates the device is not configured correctly.
  • A red "X" indicates a disabled device. A disabled device is a device that is physically present in the computer and is consuming resources, but does not have a protected-mode driver loaded.
  • A blue "i" on a white field on a device resource in Computer properties indicates that the Use automatic settings feature is not selected for the device and that the resource was manually selected. Note that this does not indicate a problem or disabled state.
  • A Yellow question mark "?" indicates Windows was unable to locate the drivers for the device and cannot determine the type of device being installed (usually listed under Other devices category).

Many times hardware problems are caused by the driver that was loaded and can be resolved by updating the driver with the latest version. Other issues may be caused by resource problems such as memory and IRQ conflicts.

To view memory and IRQ allocations for devices, open Device Manager by clicking on Start \ Run and type devmgmt.msc in the run box.

Then select Resources by connections.


From here you can expand Interrupt request (IRQ) and Memory to view the resource allocations.


Some sound cards and video adapters do not report all of the resources that they use in Windows. This can cause Device Manager to show only one device in conflict, or no conflicts at all. This can be verified by disabling the sound card, or by using the standard VGA video driver to see if the conflict is resolved.

While there is no "magic wand" that can be used to resolve hardware problems, Device Manager does show you the big picture of what is installed and the status of devices on your Computer.

Once you have identified the problem, the best solution is to visit the hardware manufacturer web site for updates and check their knowledge base for information orĀ  contact them for technical support.

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