How to remove ‘Ghost’ Devices from Device Manager

Before permanently removing any hardware (e.g. an old CD-ROM, video card or sound card) from your computer, it’s recommended to remove/uninstall any software or driver which is associated to the device which you’re going to removed. The reason for this is because ghost devices can cause real problems – especially the CD-ROM / DVD ghost drives.

Let me tell you a typical scenario. You just bought a new DVD-burner and you want to replace your good old CD-ROM drive. Most of us would physically remove the old drive and reconnecting the new one in its place. Well, most of the times is that simple but sometimes it can happen that the new drive is not detected, it’s not installed correctly (shows a yellow exclamation mark in Device Manager) or even if everything appears to be normal, your new drive doesn’t work as it should.

To avoid such problems, before permanently removing any hardware, you should always go into Add/Remove Programs and uninstall any software or drivers associated with a device that you’re going to permanently removed. To be sure that the drivers were removed, go into Device Manager and check if the device is still present. If that is the case, right-click it and choose Uninstall.

Ok, in case you already removed a device, normally it won’t be visible in Device Manager – even if all the related drivers are still present in your computer. To view all the ghost drivers or hidden devices installed, just do the following (only for those who know what they are they doing):

Go to C:\Windows\System32, find ‘cmd.exe‘, right click it and choose “Run as Administrator”.

In the the command window which opens, type:

set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1 (and press Enter)

devmgmt.msc – (and press enter), it will open Device Manager.

In Device Manager window which opens, click View – > Show hidden devices.

That’s it, you should see all Ghost devices.

Note: This procedure makes visible all the devices including legitimate devices such as USB flash drives, printers or cameras that are not connected to the computer at the moment – you should leave those alone.

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