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Solved – Device Manager blank. Nothing shows up in Device Manager folder.

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This was an awesome issue! I haven’t had one this difficult in a while, but that’s because I’ve mostly stopped fixing people’s personal systems (which get far more screwed up than any business machine).

So this person brings me a system running Windows XP SP3 that has a blank page displayed when Device Manager is opened up. Their story is they were installing a new Canon LiDE 110 scanner and it wasn’t installing and so they tried to uninstall the drivers for their old scanner and couldn’t see the DM to get to the drivers.

I did some normal troubleshooting:

  • Quick check of Scanners/Printers showed that screen blank too so no help there
  • Took off all Canon-related software, DM still blank.
  • Ran Canon’s removal tool, DM still blank.
  • Tried installing the scanner drivers again to see if I could then uninstall correctly, nope, DM still blank.
  • Canon doesn’t even offer their drivers outside of their proprietary EXE and they are not bundled with XP…sigh

When in doubt, Google it.  The first couple hits all suggested the first two solutions, which you’re welcome to try because they may work for you. The solution which worked for me was #3:

  1. Make sure Plug and Play service is started and set to Automatic startup.
    – Open Control Panel and click on Administrative Tools and then click on Services.
    – Scroll to the Plug and Play service and open properties.
    – Make sure Startup Type is Automatic and then reboot if the service is not started.
    — You should be able to view the Device Manager list now…if not then try solution #2
  2. Edit the Registry permissions for Device Manager items:
    – Goto Start, then Run, and type in REGEDT32. Navigate to the following key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Enum

    Now right-click on Enum and choose Permissions.
    If the Group or user names list box is empty, that’s a good indicator that this is the source of your issue.
    Look for two names in there: System and Everyone.

    Click the Add button and type in Everyone and click OK. Check the Allow box next to Read for Everyone. Now click Add again and type in System. Check the Allow box next to Read and Full Control for System.

    Both the check boxes under Allow should be selected when you highlight System. Also be sure to click on the Advanced button after adding both users and selecting Reset permission entries on all child objects with entries shown here that apply to child objects.
    — Click through any warnings that you get and then restart your computer and check to see if you have access to Device Manager list…if not then try solution #3

  3. This is the solution which worked for me:
    The cause of the issue is Antivirus software interfering with an install of XP’s Service Pack 3. When you install SP3 you are supposed to disable Antivirus and Firewall programs temporarily so that SP3 can properly install itself. If it runs into an issue, it will sometimes leave temporary key entries in the Registry which mess with the display of the Device Manager and also with the display of Network Connections .
    – So…you must delete those temporary keys:
    – Restart your computer in SAFE MODE  (on startup, press the F8 key to get there)
    – Click Start, then Run, and type in REGEDIT32. Navigate to the following key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM

    – On the Edit menu, click Find.
    – In the Find what box, type the following text:
    $%&'()+
    – Click Find Next.
    – For all registry keys that contain that string, Delete them.
    – To search for more keys, click Find Next.
    – Keep going until they are all deleted. I had probably a thousand so it took a while, but after I deleted them all I rebooted the machine and voila!, the Device Manager was back to displaying properly.

Sources: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/953791 and http://helpdeskgeek.com/windows-xp-tips/device-manager-empty-or-blank/

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