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Summary :

Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware

If you encounter the Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware code 38 error, do you know how to get rid of it? This post from MiniTool Software will show you the reasons for this issue and the corresponding solutions. You can also find a powerful data recovery software here.

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Are You Bothered by Windows 10 USB Error Code 38

Check the Device Status when Something Goes Wrong

When you connect an external drive like an external hard drive, USB stick, memory card, SD card, etc. to your computer, the device will push the driver via the USB port or you can choose to manually install the device driver through an external medium.

After the device driver is successfully installed and loaded, the connection between your PC and the external drive is established, and you can use the device normally.

However, sometimes, you may find that you can’t use the external drive as normal without receiving any error message. In a situation like this, you can go to Device Manager to check the status of the device and find out what the problem is.

If everything is OK, the message in the Device status section is This device is working properly.

this device is working properly

Device Manager Error Code 38 Occurs on Windows 10

However, if there is a problem, you can find an error code in the Device status section in the Windows Device Manager.

Take the following Device Manager code 38 as an example. You can see that the Device status shows you the information on this error:

Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware because a previous instance of the device driver is still in memory. (Code 38)

The driver could not be loaded because a previous version of the driver is still in memory.

Windows 10 USB error code 38

Top Reasons for Error Code 38 Windows 10

To help you better understand this Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware code 38 error, we summarize some main causes as follows:

  • The hard disk is turned off when the computer is idle.
  • The USB drive is in trouble.
  • The USB controller driver is not installed correctly.
  • The USB controller driver is corrupted.
  • The USB controller driver is outdated.
  • The USB controller driver has interfered with some third-party programs & services.
  • And more….

These things might cause Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware code 38. Focusing on them, we introduce some solutions for you. If you are not sure which is the real cause of the error, you can try these methods one by one until you find the suitable one.

Solution 1: Make Sure the Hard Disk Is Never Turned off

Perhaps, you don’t know that the hard disk on your computer is set to be turned off after a certain period by default. If the Windows 10 Device Manager Error Code 38 issue happens to an external hard disk, you can go to check and modify the settings in Power Option to make sure that the hard disk is never turned off.

Here is a guide on how to do this job:

1. Click the Windows search box and type Control Panel.

2. Select Control Panel from the search result to open it.

3. Click Power Options.

4. Click the Change plan settings link that is next to Balanced (recommended) in the Preferred plan section.

click change plan settings

5. Click Change advanced power settings.

click Change advanced power settings

6. Type never in the Setting (Minutes) box for Turn off hard disk after in the Hard disk section.

type never

7. Click Apply.

8. Click OK to save the change.

If you are using a laptop, you still need to use these steps to modify the settings for all active battery plans.

However, if this method doesn’t work for you, the Device Manager Code 38 error should not be caused by an idle computer. You can try the next solution to see whether the issue can be solved.

Solution 2: Reinstall the Device in the Device Manager

Perhaps, the code 38 Windows 10 issue is just a temporary issue. You can reinstall the device in the Device Manager to have a try.

1. Open Device Manager.

2. Unfold Universal Serial Bus controllers and right-click the target controller.

3. Select Uninstall device from the pop-out menu.

select Uninstall device

4. Click Uninstall from the pop-out window. The uninstallation process will start and finish quickly.

click Uninstall

5. Reboot your computer and Windows will begin to automatically reinstall the device.

Solution 3: Update the Driver for the Device

To rule out the device driver issue, you can update the device driver to have a try. This method is very simple. You can just do the job in the Device Manager.

1. Open Device Manager.

2. Find the target controller under Universal Serial Bus controllers and right-click on it.

3. Select Update driver from the pop-out menu.

click Update driver

4. Click Search automatically for updated driver software. Then, the Device Manager will begin to search for available online drivers.

click Search automatically for updated driver software

5. Select the device driver to install.

While, if Windows can’t find a driver, you can go to the official web site of the device’s manufacture to download the latest version of the driver and then install it on your Windows 10 computer.

Tip: If you want to update all device drivers on your Windows computer, you can refer to this previous post to do the job: How to Update Device Drivers Windows 10 (2 Ways).

Solution 4: Run the Hardware and Device Troubleshooter

The Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware code 38 error can also be caused by the external drive itself. You can use the Windows snap-in Hardware and Device Troubleshooter to make a check.

You are not allowed to enter the Hardware and Device Troubleshooter in Device Manager. You need to open it via Command Prompt.

  1. Run Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. Type exe -id DeviceDiagnostic in Command Prompt to open the Hardware and Device Troubleshooter.
  3. Click Next to start the troubleshooting process.

open Hardware and Device Troubleshooter

If this tool can find some issues on the device, you can follow the on-screen guide to fix the problems. However, if it shows Troubleshooting couldn’t identify the problem, it should not be a hardware problem. Then, you need to consider the software compatibility issue. The next part will show you the details.

Solution 5: Perform a Clean Boot

A clean boot allows your Windows to boot with a minimal set of drivers and startup programs. You can enable other programs and services one by one and check whether the code 38 Windows 10 issue disappears. This is a good method to find out which software and services are conflicting.

This post shows you how to perform a clean boot on Windows 10: How to Clean Boot Windows 10 and Why You Need to Do So?

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Bonus: Rescue Your Data Using MiniTool Power Data Recovery

If the Device Manager Code 38 issue can’t be fixed and you can’t access the files on the drive, you will need to use a professional data recovery software to rescue them. We suggest using MiniTool Power Data Recovery.

This is a free file recovery tool that has four recovery modules: This PC, Removable Disk Drive, Hard Disk Drive, and CD/DVD Drive. You can use them to recover data from external hard drives, SD cards, memory cards, pen drives, and more.

It has a trial edition. You can use it to scan the drive that you want to recover data from and then check whether it can find your needed files.

If you are interested in this software, you can press the following button to download and install this program on your computer to have a try.

Free Download

Suppose that you want to recover data from an SD card. Here is what you should do to retrieve your files using MiniTool Power Data Recovery.

1. Connect the SD card to your computer via a card reader.

2. Open the software.

3. Select the target SD card from the Logical Drive section.

4. Click Scan to start the scanning process.

select the target SD card to scan

5. After scanning (you’d better wait until the entire scanning process ends to get the best data recovery effect), this software will show you the scan results including the existing and deleted files in the drive.

scan results

By default, the scan results are listed by path. You can open each path and then find your desired data. But, this is not an ideal way to find your data when there are tens of thousands of scan results. This software has other functions that allow you to find files easily and quickly:

  • Type: You can click this feature to make the software show you the scan results by type.
  • Find: If you still remember the name of the file you want to recover, you can click Find and use this feature to locate the target file directly.
  • Preview: This feature allows you to preview up to 70 types of files. If you are not sure whether it is the file you want to retrieve, you can just select that file and press Preview to make a confirmation.

The trial edition of this software doesn’t allow you to recover the scanned files. You need to upgrade this software to a full edition and then save files to your computer. This software has different editions for personal users and business users. If you are a personal user, the Personal Ultimate Edition can fully meet your requirements.

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Solve Other Device Manager Errors

The driver could not be loaded because a previous version of the driver is still in memory code 38 is not the only Device Manager error that you might encounter when using an external drive. Here are some other situations and solutions:

  • Code 1: This device is not configured correctly. (Code 1)
  • Code 10: This device cannot start. (Code 10)
  • Code 22: This device is disabled. (Code 22)
  • Code 37: Windows cannot initialize the device driver for this hardware. (Code 37)
  • Code 43: Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43)
  • And more…

We will not list all the error codes in this part. You can also search for other codes and solutions in the MiniTool official site.

No matter which Device Manager error you are facing, if you want to rescue your files from the faulty data storage device, you can always try MiniTool Power Data Recovery.

Free Download

Bottom Line

When you are bothered by Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware code 38, you can just try the solutions mentioned in this post to help you out. On the other hand, we also recommend MiniTool Power Data Recovery to help you rescue the files that you can’t access.

Should you have any related issues, you can contact us via [email protected] or let us know in the comment.

Windows Cannot Load the Device Driver for This Hardware FAQ

How to fix Device Manager Code 31?
  1. Restart your computer
  2. Update the device driver
  3. Uninstall the device
  4. Run the troubleshooter

You can get the detailed guides from this post: How To Fix Code 31: This Device Is Not Working Properly.

How to fix Device Manager Code 45?
  1. Run Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter
  2. Run System File Checker and DISM Scan
  3. Update or Rollback Your Device Driver
  4. Check and Repair Your Hardware for Corruptions

You can get the detailed guides from this post: Hardware Device Is Not Connected to the Computer (Code 45).

How do I fix a driver problem?
You can uninstall the device driver or update the drive to get rid of the issue.
How do I update a device driver?
You can go to Device Manager, right-click the target device driver, select Update driver, and then follow the on-screen guide to update the device driver.
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