What the Error “This device cannot start. Code 10 in audio driver” Means

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If you run into the error “This device cannot start. Code 10” (often followed by a driver identifier, for example “This device cannot start. Code 10 in audio driver”), here is what it means.

The Windows error “This device cannot start. Code 10” or “This device cannot start. (Code 10)” is a hardware error that most commonly means that you have a bad, missing, or incompatible device driver. So, for example, “This device cannot start. Code 10 in audio driver” means that you have a bad or missing or incompatible driver for your sound card.

The technical explanation for this message, according to Microsoft, is this:

“If the device has a FailReasonString value in its hardware key, that string appears as the error message. The driver or enumerator puts this registry string value there. If there is no FailReasonString in the hardware key, you receive the following error message:

This device cannot start. (Code 10)”

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What does that mean in plain English? It means that if the device which is throwing the error has added its own custom error text to your Windows system when the device was installed, then when the device encounters an error, you will see the custom error message specific to that device. But if it doesn’t have its own custom error message, then Windows uses its own generic error message for devices, which is “This device cannot start. (Code 10)”

Microsoft recommends that when this happens, you click “Update Driver” to update the drivers for the device. You can also start the Windows troubleshooting wizard by going to the general properties tab of the device, and clicking on “Troubleshoot”.

Before doing this, be sure that you have the correct and most up-to-date versions of the driver(s) for that device. You can also try uninstalling and reinstalling the device, using the disk which came with it.


Finally, you can go to the website of the device’s manufacturer, and check their downloads or support section for current, up-to-date drivers.

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38 thoughts on “What the Error “This device cannot start. Code 10 in audio driver” Means

  1. Hey, my Dell laptop suddenly started to show this error. Shouldn’t they fix this a long time ago? I try to update the driver but it doesn’t help. Time to replace the laptop?

  2. I was getting this error very often with my WiFi card and by going to the hardware panel (My Computer > Properties > Hardware > Device Manager) and doing a “hard” disable and “re-enable”, it would sometimes work.

    After 5 months of this B.S. the card failed so I bought a pcmcia card.

    I advise you to return / exchange the card if possible, if new, and buy a more common and more standard audio card. good luck!

  3. bro plz help me out ..i purchase new sound card and insert in my cpu i disable my audio from boad but its not wrking its say “I bought an ‘Apollo PCI 5.1 Sound Card’ and have put it into one of the expansion card slots inside my computer. I booted up the computer and i insert the disk with the drivers and applications on it but it comes up with a box titled ‘Information – Can not find audio chip’ and it says in the box:
    ‘Our audio chip provides multi-speaker surround and realistic sound effects. Due to the fact that your computer is not equipped with our audio chip, you can not avail yourself of these advanced features.

    For more information, please contact your computer dealer.

    C-Media Electronic Inc.
    Website: http://www.cmedia.com.tw’

    My only option from there is to press the OK button.” so plz mail me slon fr ds i m realy vry tierd frm ds…plz any one help me out frm ds…

  4. Have an old d´rive from a XP PC on a Vista laptop , now I can`t get my old photos..aaarrggHH

  5. I find that I get this error on my T41 thinkpad laptop quite a lot with the Intel Wireless card on the mini-slot, inside the laptop. I have to go to the device manager (My Computer > Properties > Hardware > Device Manager > Network Adapters) and do a DISABLE then an ENABLE on the device. This apparently does a FULL RESET of the hardware device. When I try “disable/enabled” from the wireless device icon, it’s only a partial reset and really doesn’t solve my problem.

  6. i m gettin the problem with sound card on my lappy…it is tellin that sound device is not found…
    i hv updated all the drivers….
    some of my friends tallin that its hardware problem…can anyone help me plz…

  7. hey webcam is not working properly . when i install the driver of my webcam then i right-click on my computer then manage.Then i go to device manager then imaging devices then web cam model name is there.then i right click on model name and click properties.then it show ‘This device cannot start. (Code 10)’
    thank you

  8. SUCCESS! My error code 10 revolved around my Compaq Presario v6620US’ DVD-Rom drive. After upgrading to Windows 7 Ultimate from Vista Home Premium, my HP Officejet Printer quit working. When I installed the Windows 7 patch from HP, my DVD-Rom player quit working, along with the dreaded Code 10 error and yellow caution triangle alert. This problem has been my bane now for nearly 5 months! The obvious Uninstall followed by an automatic driver reload only resulted in a “Failed” installation. As others have posted, no fix has been published that addressed my specific issue. I did try Microsoft knowledge base article Article ID: 314060, which promises a fix, but it did not deliver (but is a part of the solution!).

    The Problem & Fix

    I was investigating the properties of the DVD-Rom drive in the Device Manager when I discovered a potential conflict. In the “Driver Details” button of the Driver tab, there were two drivers listed. One was a Microsoft generic and the other was a third-party driver. Both of these .sys files were found in C:\Windows\System32\Drivers. I decided to delete these files by renaming them with .old extensions. You may have to give yourself permission for this action. I then uninstalled the drive in the Device Manager. Next, I complied with the Microsoft database Article ID: 314060 to the extent possible. (Note: I used the Vista solution rather than the Windows 7, which just advises the user to launch the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter. I had tried this method many times, with no success). This process uses Regedit to delete a couple of keys. I did find an UpperFilter to delete, as illustrated, but did not find a LowerFilter. The MS article states that this eventuality is a problem, but don’t let that bother you. Change permissions to allow the deletion. Lastly, I flashed my BIOS with the most current version provided by HP. After the required Shutdown, the computer was rebooted to reveal, Viola!, the DVD-Rom player reinstalls successfully and now works after five months on hiatus.

    I do not know if these steps must all be taken or in this particular order, but if you have a CD/DVD-Rom on the fritz, give this method a try.



  9. Resolution for Error 10 device cannot start for HP Laptop. I upgraded to Vista and receive the error for High Def Audio. Upgrade to the latest version BIOS. Uninstall audio driver and change power plan to high performance. Restart the PC the drivers loaded successfully. I also disable the CD-rom and re-enable during my troubleshooting.

  10. Hi, i also have this problem with my Wireless Card, coming up with the yellow (!) in device manager, under network adapters.
    I have followed trouble shoot, Uninstall/re-install etc….
    and nothing works, i have gone to the official web site found drivers tried them, and none work, tried just searching using the OS (XP pro) which i am using, and doesn’t find any.
    Im out of options of which im aware of, if anyone can help please do! i really dont want to re-build my laptop.
    Any help will be much appreciated!

  11. Hi.I have a problem with my sound device(the same old code 10 error).can somebody help me? this is what i know about my pc:
    Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Professional
    OS Service Pack Service Pack 2
    DirectX (DirectX 9.0c)
    Computer Name SEAL
    User Name Myself 30

    CPU Type AMD Sempron, 1600 MHz (8 x 200) 2600+
    Motherboard Name ECS 755-A2 (5 PCI, 1 AGP, 1 CNR, 2 DDR DIMM, Audio, LAN)
    Motherboard Chipset SiS 755, AMD Hammer
    System Memory 256 MB (PC3200 DDR SDRAM)
    BIOS Type Award (09/16/05)
    Communication Port Communications Port (COM1)
    Communication Port ECP Printer Port (LPT1)

    Video Adapter NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 4000 (64 MB)
    3D Accelerator nVIDIA GeForce4 MX 4000
    Monitor Plug and Play Monitor [NoDB] (15431765)

    IDE Controller SiS 5513 IDE UDMA Controller
    SCSI/RAID Controller SiS 180 RAID Controller
    Disk Drive Maxtor 6K040L0 (38 GB, IDE)
    Optical Drive HL-DT-ST CD-RW GCE-8527B (52x/32x/52x CD-RW)
    SMART Hard Disks Status OK

    thanks a lot.

  12. oh and also, it is the same thing as i was reinstalling it, after i reinstalled it, it still said ” This device cannot start. Code 10″ appreciate it if anyone can help.

  13. I have also encoutered this error code when my pc doesn’t have enougght power to run my audio card (I got that by plugging the X52 joystick and the pro flight peddals into my already barely sufficient 300 watts PSU (Power Supply Unit))
    Hope this helps,

  14. Thanks. Found out that the Windows 7 installed the wrong drivers for my audio card in the laptop. Fixed it by installing the Vista version of the correct drivers.

  15. Thankyou very understandable and easy to follow. I am updating my driver now, hopefully this will work

  16. i have get that error and i cannot find a way to fix it, when i go into the sound option it says there is no audio device installed, which is greatly confusing me since i have a high definition sound card…. and when i try and update it, it says that it cant update coz i have the highest updated version… SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME!

  17. I have the same error code 10 error with a yellow ! in device manager. When I click on it and choose disable and then click and enable, the device will work fine until the next time I reboot. There are no updated drivers for the device and have tried a brand new load of XP with the same result. Also tried a factory reset of the BIOS with no luck. I believe the problem is with the Dell Drivers on my C400 for the Crystal audio. The disable/enable in Device Manager works, but it is not the BEST solution.

  18. i have a huge problem with vinyl97.sys i re-installed windows, updated drivers reset my mobo and yet still it doesnt work!!! help please!!

  19. when i in chat ..spin song..in yahoo messenger.. audioerror code 1 oice join denied ….what is this? how.. i can ..open this lock ??

  20. I have a gateway laptop that came with Vista. I put XP on and now I find no sound drivers. Is there any hope?

  21. Well i guess this problem is with the IRQ miss match, you need to reset your bios to default, if its still don’t work try reinstalling the windows

  22. hi friends u have problem with your mother drivers not from the os. if u want more details to solve the problem contact me, i will send u the solution. the real problem comes from 1. os with out compatible mother board drivers. 2)hotfixes or updated bios settings
    3) un available motherboard drivers.
    if u want solve the problem, remove ur motherboard battery and put it again, this will clear all the motherboard updates. and reinstall all of your motherboard drivers from cd u have, more problem contact me

  23. I put the same O/S On my computer an I missing the C-Media AC97 device and Hp can’t find the Sound driver for me.Does anybody know the driver for my Hp Pavilion 540n Please email at twilli811@hotmail.com

  24. Just rebooting the PC helps. Why then all this misleading M’soft explanation.
    Isn’t there soms button “try te reconnect again”, which does exacty what is happening with the audio device when booting the system, but which avoids to tear down the whole system and reboot it, just to wake up the sound system?

  25. I also need some help.I installed Windows XP and then i suddenly got this “No Audio Device Error”

  26. my speakers are not working and i look in device manager and there is an error with “sound blaster 16 or awe32 or compatible(wdm)” and ive tried updating driver and unistalling and reinstalling it and there still not workin. Can any1 help me?

  27. I tried to reinstall the Sony DRU-820A driver by all methods and Vista still does not recognize the drive (D). It uses the Windows driver. I have the driver disk but the CD/DVD will not accept it.
    catch “22”???

  28. thanks for help but I still doesn’t know what to do ?
    this problem occurred before and I removed the sound card and put it again .This really works ,but this time it refuses to respond even with “NO”

  29. yeah i tried eveything but my cam is working on other computers and it used to work on my computer but for some reason now its giving me that code error what do i do?

  30. I got this error and I have tried all the steps to resolve it as explained above. Update driver, trouble shoot etc. It still does not work.The only possibility which I have not tried is to remove the hardware physically and refix it.

  31. Nice explaination but how do I know which driver is compatible with my sound card? I got this error after downloading a sound card driver which is supposedly be compatible to my computer..

  32. Great explanation! But… if there is no updated driver to get anywhere, and the device works properly on other computers, what do you do then? Finding an answer to this is like pulling teeth!

  33. this is the only site with an understandable explaination thank you

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