Windows Quick Tip: How To Unlock Hidden Devices

Hidden Devices are those devices that had been installed on your computer at one point but was removed without going through the uninstall process. They aren’t physically present in your system at the moment but are still treated as if they are by Windows. And Windows devotes some resources to them. While it’s helpful sometime if you want the system remembers the settings you put on them, such as drive letter, printer name, etc., it could also cause some conflicts with the new devices you are about to install.

If you encounter some weird hardware conflicts that prevent you from properly install the devices you want to install, check these hidden ghost devices on your system and cleaning them up or going through uninstalling process may help you solve those mysteries conflicts.

But how do you see those hidden devices in the first place? Let’s see. It’s very easy.

Open Device Manager, click View at the top menu, and check “Show hidden devices” option from the dropdown list (Figure 1).

Figure 1 - show hidden devices option

Figure 1 – show hidden devices option

The Figure 2 below shows the hard drives currently connected on my computer at the moment.

Figure 2 - hard drives currently connected

Figure 2 – hard drives currently connected

And the Figure 3 below shows how many more other devices had been connected by myself before on the same system.

Figure 3 - hidden hard disks revealed

Figure 3 – hidden hard disks revealed

See how many of them had been on my system? If you find anything listed there that are suspicious to your hardware conflict issues, you can right click on it and uninstall it from the list.

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 08/04/2014

Posted in: Tips & Tricks
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