“This Device Cannot Start (Code 10)” error means that your system is unable to communicate with certain pieces of hardware.


Whilst often suggesting a hardware issue, it *can* be caused by faulty software / system settings.

The most common reason is an incompatible driver, an issue aggravated by the recent upgrade to Windows 10.

If you’re seeing the error, there are 3 ways to fix it. If these 3 ways don’t work, it’s likely the hardware is damaged and should be replaced:

1. Update Driver

The most important thing is the driver; the small piece of software required by Windows to “talk” to the hardware.

Because hardware receives electrical signals, a set of files are required to translate Windows’ outputs into machine code / binary.

These binary signals tell your hardware to perform certain tasks. If you don’t have the appropriate drivers for your device / system, Windows will be unable to communicate with it.

To fix this, you need to first “uninstall” the driver that’s on your system already. Windows 10 will actually put many “default” drivers for hardware it doesn’t recognize, which although means the likes of your keyboard, monitor and mouse working out of the box, will actually lead many less popular devices from functioning at all.

By removing – and then reinstalling – the driver, you stand the best chance of getting the hardware running again.

The steps are as follows:

  • Right-Click on the “Start” button (bottom left / taskbar)
  • Select “Device Manager”
  • When DM loads, locate the device not working
  • Right-click and select “Uninstall”
  • This will remove the hardware from that list, but will likely immediately show up again
  • At this point, you need to go online and see if you can download a later driver. The manufacturer’s website is the best place to get Win10 drivers, but there are also several other good resources such as drivers.com where you can find decent drivers.
  • Once you have a copy of the actual driver, right-click on the hardware inside Device Manager and select “Update Driver Software”
  • This will present you with a screen with two options – Select “Browse my computer for driver software”
  • Load up the driver you downloaded
  • If it works, this should resolve the code 10 error in 90% of cases.

2. Install Dependent Software

One of the main reasons why the Code 10 error appears is because Windows does not have the appropriate software to actually run the hardware.

This is more than just drivers, there are a number of executables & libraries – namely .NET and Visual C++ redistributable packages – which often cause issues deep within the system. The most base reason to explain is that these applications essentially provide a series of “libraries” for core Windows features. If one of these libraries becomes corrupted, is incompatible or outdated, your system may suffer as a result.

The best thing to do in this instance is to install a series of applications which could be missing from your PC. If any of these applications help resolve the issue, you can keep them – if not, you can just uninstall them. I will note the application and where to download it below:

  • Visual C++ 2017 Redistributable – Search for “Visual C++ 2017 redistributable download”, click the first link and then proceed to download & install the appropriate VC++ redist package for your version of Windows
  • NET Framework 4.7.1 – search for “.NET 4.7 web installer”, click the first link and then download the application directly from Microsoft
  • Windows 10 SDK – search for “Windows 10 SDK download”, click the first link and download the update for your system
  • Windows Update – “Start” > “Settings” > “Windows Update” > “Check for Updates”

3. Remove, Clean and Re-Insert The Hardware

Whilst this only applies to removable hardware (modular graphics / sound cards, USB sticks etc), it’s still very valid.

One of the main reasons why Code 10 shows is either that dust got into the connectors, or one of the slots on your motherboard is faulty.

Whilst a seemingly mundane resolution, taking out the hardware, cleaning it a little with a duster and replacing in another slot may actually resolve the issue. This is especially true with the likes of RAM and other detachable components.

If you’re not comfortable doing this, you should seek the help of someone who’s qualified.

Nonetheless, if you do wish to proceed, you need to turn off your system and remove the power connector from the wall. You may also wish to wear an anti-static band… although I hardly do this and fortunately haven’t experienced any issues yet.

From this point, you just need to open your system’s case and remove the component required. I then use a dry duster to remove any dust that may be caught inside.

When clean, I replace in a different slot – after cleaning this with the duster too. The process should only take maybe 2 minutes and then I power the system back on. It can sometimes be the case that the system will recognize the RAM as different, allowing it to work in a slightly different way.