How Can I Deal With the Code 10 Error Message?

What is "code 10” or “The device cannot start” error?

This error is generated when the system fails to recognize a device in the Device Manager of the Operating system. A missing or corrupt driver file can cause this error. Usually such errors are caused by devices which are connected externally to the system, mostly through a USB device.

Operating Systems affected are:

  • Win XP Home and Professional.
  • All versions of Windows Vista.
  • All versions of Win 7
  • All versions of Windows 2008

Error that appears on the screen

“This device cannot start. (Code 10)”

“This device is either not present, not working properly, or does not have all the drivers installed. (Code 10)”

What causes the Error Code 10?

The code 10 error is very common and the signature of this error is a flickering cursor or screen while starting the system, or a blue screen followed by a system restart. The possible causes are:

  1. Driver Conflicts
  2. Corrupt Drivers
  3. Malfunctioning of the connected hardware

How to Fix Code 10 Error Messages

Driver Conflicts – Drivers are a software interface between the hardware and the operating system (OS). Every driver uses a particular resource from the memory to keep working, and if any other driver tries to use the same resource there will be a conflict. The best way to find out which devices are creating the conflict is by following the steps below:

  1. Click Start and then go to All Programs .
  2. Click Accessories and then select System Tools .
  3. Click System Information .
  4. Under Hardware Resources , click Conflicts/Sharing .
  5. A list of devices installed on the system will be displayed on the right.

  6. Any device with a yellow or red cross mark reflects the device creating the conflict.

Once you find the conflicting driver, remove the device driver (steps given below) from the system and restart.

Corrupt Drivers – The above steps show us the conflicting drivers and whether or not the driver is installed correctly.   You can follow the steps below to correct these types of issues.

  1. Right-click My Computer and then select Properties.
  2. Open the Hardware tab in the System Properties dialog box and then click the Device Manager Button.
  3. Select the device causing the problem, right-click on it and click Uninstall.
  4. Close Device Manager and restart the system.

Now either Windows will install the drivers from its driver database, or you can install the drivers from the CD/DVD provided for the device.
This should take care of the driver which is either creating the conflict or is corrupted completely.

Malfunctioning Hardware – If the hardware is not recognized or not working properly even after installing the drivers, then you can check for device malfunction. Most of the time, if the device doesn’t work properly then the system will either pop up a blue screen or shut down, or on restarting will show a blinking cursor. If the system starts properly but the device is not working, go to the Device Manager and you will see the code 10 error.

The best way to get rid of this is to –

  • Disconnect the device from the system and restart the system.
  • Remove the driver completely (as shown in the steps above for corrupt drivers).
  • Connect the same device to another system and check for errors.

If the system behaves the same way, you may have to contact the manufacturer for a replacement of the device.