Device Manager empty or blank in Windows?

I recently had a problem where I opened my Device Manager and found that is was blank! Nothing there! Just plain empty! It was very strange and it took me a while to figure out what the problem was!

If your Device Manager is completely blank or empty, then there are two possibilities of why the problem is occurring: either you have a critical Windows service disabled or your permissions in the registry for the Device Manager key are corrupt.

Here’s how you can fix this issue by enabling the appropriate Windows service or changing the permissions in the registry.

Method 1 ““ Enable Plug and Play Windows Service

Apparently, the Windows Device Manager needs to have the Plug and Play service Enabled in order to work correctly. You can enable the service by going to Start, Control Panel, opening Administrative Tools and then clicking on Services.

windows services

Scroll down and find the Plug and Play service. Double-click on it and make sure the Start up type is set to Automatic and click Start if the service is not running.

plug and play windows service

Check to see if your Device Manager is still blank or not. If it is, then you can also try to enable more Windows Services by going to Start, Run and typing in MSCONFIG. Click on the Services tab and choose Enable All.

enable all windows services

Go ahead and restart your computer and you should now hopefully be able to see all the hardware devices in Device Manager. If not, try Method 2!

Method 2 ““ Edit the registry permissions

The other reason Device Manager may be empty is because there are security issues with the key in the registry. To fix it, click on Start, then Run, and type in REGEDT32. Click on the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE window or expand that hive and 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, then you know this is the problem! It should have 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. It should look like this:

enum registry permissions

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.

replace permissions on child objects

Click OK and if a warning message comes up, just click OK. Close the Registry Editor and restart your computer. You should now be able to see everything in the Device Manager.

If you are still having problem with a blank Device Manager, post a comment here! Enjoy!

  1. [...] Device Manager empty or blank in Windows? Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 in Windows XP Tips – Views: (98) I recently had a problem where I opened my Device Manager and found that is was blank! Nothing there! Just plain empty! It was very strange and it took me a while to figure out what the problem was!If your Device Manager is completely blank or empty, then there are two possibilities of why the problem is occurring: either you have a critical Windows service disabled or your permissions in the registry for the Device Manager key are corrupt. If you enjoy the content on this site, please make sure to subscribe to the RSS feed. Enjoyed this post? Subscribe to Help Desk Geek via RSS Feed or via Email and receive free daily productivity tips. Filed under: Windows XP Tips,      [...]

  2. jenman77 says:

    I have the same problem, I tried all those solutions but under enum I do not have a permissions to choose. I also tried downloading a hotfix from microsoft but that didnt work either.

  3. Agsilvers says:

    Hit the nail on the head. Solved my problem. Many thanks.

  4. Michael says:

    Both of these things are in place but the DevMgr screen on my wife's machine is still blank. I have recently replaced a faulty video card (ATI replaced with a different ATI) because the machine would not show a display. That is the only hardware change of late. Any ideas?

  5. al says:

    Thanks for the advice. It worked just fine. My ipod and webcam are now working well.
    Regards
    Alex

  6. Joe says:

    I tried everything you listed and it is still blank. I am also using Norton Security. Neither their fix nor Microsofts fixccs download solves the problem. Thanks for your help anyway. It was fine until a month ago and I cannot also use system restore to earlier dates as it tells me it cannot be done. I wonder where this problem came from?

  7. jnjaeger says:

    After changing advanced registry security settings, I get the following XP error:

    "Registry Editor could not set security in the key currently selected, or some of its subkeys."

    Problem remains. Anyone, pease?

  8. Joe says:

    Yesterday I said that the solutions above did not work, but apparently something did as when I started my computer this morning everything was in place and the device manager was blank no more! Thank you for your assistance in this matter and for being so helpful.

  9. willrobinson6624 says:

    Tried both methods. Device manager still blank.

  10. Neither solution worked for me. I tried working directly with a Dell technician and he could not find a solution either. He wants to reinstall Windows.

  11. enbranic says:

    thanks for the help, my Device Manager is no longer empty!

  12. grantic says:

    Excellent. Worked a treat for me. Thank you.

  13. Rex OfNambour says:

    Excellent instructions, well illustrated. I have tried it twice — like "JnJaeger" I got the message “Registry Editor could not set security in the key currently selected, or some of its subkeys.”

    Still blank Device Manager. Have also run Microsoft "Fixccs.exe".

    Still blank.

  14. luvmysting says:

    I have tried both suggestions and still nothing worked =/ Any other suggestions anyone??

  15. bigfatloser says:

    The "edit the registry permission" fix worked. I had tried four other fixes and this one finally did it. I had to "ADD" the two users (in addition to two others that were already there) and followed the rest of the instructions. BIG THANKS!

  16. pandorah says:

    omg! THANKYOU SOOOO MUCH! I have spent so long on this problem. I cannot tell you what it means to fix it. The second option worked for me. Thankyou once again.

  17. Mishu Ahmed says:

    May I have your address please?! Cause freaking hell I want to hug! Method 2 worked like a charm. Thanks alot mate!!

  18. happyuser says:

    Never thought this would happen to me! Google – second hit solved in 5min! Excellent – Thank you so much.

  19. John Ward says:

    I want to thank you for the fix. I have been fooling with this xp for a week. Tried what microsoft said and others. Nothing worked. Your second resolve fixed the blank page for my computer page plus my Device Mgr. The only problem I have now is every time I boot up the computer when messager comes on then it says it has a problem then goes off. Then I go on line and hit search and the internet kicks me off. Thanks again, you are a blessing. May the Lord continue to bess you in all that you do!

    Pastor John

  20. azeemamir99 says:

    I have tried this in windows 7 but in vain, neither methods worked! In the later method when i try to modify some thing it says does not have enough permission, even though im the administrator……I think this is a problem in windows 7 7600 build! Waiting for a good solution

  21. BB2010 says:

    Method 1 is already set as you described. Using method 2, I have 3 User Names listed in the Permissions for Enum Security window – Everyone, Owner Rights & System. Owner Rights have Special Permissions checked in the Allow box. Should I delete Owner Rights? Also when I checked "Replace all existing inheritable permissions…" I get an Access Denied message. I have Vista 64 bit.

  22. sylvester says:

    This never worked for me. Any other idea to fix it?

  23. PML says:

    THANK YOU! My problem was the Plug and Play service not starting. Now the device manager list looks/acts normally.

  24. Ron says:

    Thanks for the solution. Option 2 worked for me. Had already seen the solution but not as extensive. Changing the permissions on child objects was fo me the solution. Thanks and Dutch greetings.

    Ron

  25. ema609 says:

    Your directions are wonderful and so easy to do and for me thats great since i have 2 left brains.

    Can you please also help me I keep getting put a boot thingy and press key when I try to restart the xp pc

    Thank you again.

  26. VstarAl says:

    Thank you very much! Your instructions fixed the empty Device Manager issue I was experiencing (as well as a couple other issues).

  27. lrohner says:

    This didn't work and my Device Manager is still empty. Any other suggestions?

  28. Dosneau says:

    Thank you so much, it was the plug and play issue, however I was thinking how can it be disabled?.. It was fine before the weekend, is there a malicious thing i.e. someone manually has to disable it.. If you know please let me know.

    Thanks again!

  29. nrmarcus says:

    I had a blank device manager and solved it by changing my start-up from "selective start-up" to regular/standard start-up. Good luck.

  30. sosa98cubs says:

    Thank you Thank you….Device Manager FIXED.

  31. eric says:

    I click on the "replace all child…" and then click the apply

    button and I get the following error:

    "Unable to save permission changes on Enum. Access is Denied".

    I launched regedit from an Adminstrator command window,

    Windows 7 64-bit.

  32. Krucetopher says:

    Hi,

    I have tried both methods, and unfortunately I am still having this issue. My device Mgr is empty. My pc doesn't recognize or our Ipod, a disc in the drive. Are there any other methods to resolve this? It is very frustrating. I have been a pc tech for 13 years, and I have never come across this issue. Not sure what else to do. Any help would be greatly appreciated..

  33. sofreshsoclean says:

    Worked for me.

    My XP device manager went empty because I was fiddling around with msconfig. I was fiddling around because my computer was so slow after a virus removal, I thought some process or start up item was slowing things down. Even when I press, in msconfig, to load up all items normally, the device manager still remains empty. I am running Norton Antivirus… this could have been why the Dvc mgr went empty.

    Good luck to everyone else.

  34. DaveMcG54 says:

    Option #2 worked like a charm on my win 7 x64 system.

    For those having problems with lack of permission to change the …/enum parameters, first go to the owners tab on the advanced page of enums permission. Highlight your user name and select "Replace owner on subcontainers and objects" and hit apply. When you go back to the permission fields mentioned in option #2, you should now have authority to make changes.

  35. Darko says:

    The permissions part did the trick for me. Thanks

  36. pasomonte says:

    Mahalo for the great advice. I have no idea how my netbook got this way but I uninstalled Norton and did the regedit and it worked like a charm. XP SPIII.

  37. FREQGIRL says:

    Nope! Didn't work. Wouldn't let me change the permissions. Says I don't have permission to change it when I am the administrator and I own the thing! Says Access Denied!

  38. Darrkon says:

    Thanks!

    Found you on google. I would never have thought of this but I tried the permissions, got my device manager back and finally allowed a proper install of my USB wireless broadband adapter (which was driving me up the wall).

    Cheers!!

  39. m_hawes1 says:

    After changing advanced registry security settings, I get the following XP error:

    “Registry Editor could not set security in the key currently selected, or some of its subkeys.”

    Do you have any suggestions?

  40. mac says:

    So close! I am stuck at “Registry Editor could not set security in the key currently selected, or some of its subkeys.” as well.

    Anyone?

  41. suzlik says:

    Hey,

    Thank you very much for this information. It totally fixed my problem.

    My problem was, that I couldn't get WiFi activated on this computer and I didn't know what the problem was. I checked the Device Manager and it was empty, so I figured that was part of the problem. Thanks to this solution, I saw all the devices there, and I saw that the WiFi adapter was disabled ("Oh c´mon :P"). And after enabling it, my problem got fixed.

    Thank you, again.

  42. tnugz420 says:

    Thanks a million! Solved it!!!

  43. Fahad says:

    When I do the last step – permission entries on all child objects with entries shown here that apply to child objects – It says Error!! :(

  44. TopazMystique says:

    I think my problem was caused by either Avira or Avast. I lost the viewing of the internet connections with Avira. Let it go and tried Avast. When I tried to fix the missing internet connection problem, I found the empty device manager.

    I have the two users specified with the appropriate permissions. However, I have several other users listed: Administrators (full control), Creator Owner (special permissions), Power Users (read), and Users (read). I am listed with the machine ID in parentheses on all of them.

    When I go to the Advanced settings, the first checkbox (Inherit from parent…) is checked. If I uncheck that, I get a message asking if I want to Copy, Remove or Cancel. If I select the REMOVE, all the users disappear except Everyone and SYSTEM. Is this going to be a problem if I click OK? Or should I Copy? Very leary about changing the security permissions in the registry.

    If I check both boxes, I get: "This will remove explicitly defined permissions… Do you wish to continue?" error message. If I select YES, I get "Registry Editor could not set security in the key currently selected or some of its subkeys". "Everyone" was highlighted at the time. Clicked OK. Restarting the computer gives me the same thing… blank device manager.

    If I knew for sure what to do about unchecking the first checkbox, I would do it but am so afraid that I'll do this and then won't have access to anything.

  45. altabanji says:

    Good. Thanks.

  46. Tim Hohs says:

    Gack! Same problem. It started with the message: “No ATI graphics driver is installed, or the ATI driver is not functioning properly." I replaced the video driver and the message went away, but I still have nothing in device manager. (Or, coincidentally, in my Dell Help Index.) Followed above and got stopped at “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” with: "Registry Editor could not set owner on the key currently selected, or some of its subkeys."

    Well, I feel like I'm getting close…

  47. djcjrobb says:

    Thank you Aseem for these directions, you just saved a computer in Michigan from ultimate peril.

  48. tom says:

    my computer stuck at loading screen so i set bios to "load fail safe setup" and i accessed win xp but internet didn't work.

    then i noticed device manager was empty, i applied your solution and now everythings works fine

    thanks

  49. sillu says:

    These instructions saved my day! THANKS!

  50. M Calvin says:

    Tried both methods several time to no avail. Anymore ideas?

  51. Donna Marie 113 says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you…..I am not in a position to update, and didn’t realize the fix (turn on all services) was that easy.

    This answer saved me a lot of grief, money and sanity.

  52. Ross Deprey says:

    Excellent instructions

    THANK YOU! My problem was the Plug and Play service not starting. Now the device manager works..

    you’re the best!

  53. Dee says:

    Tried both methods and everything is correct all the way through, but my device manager is still empty (and my system won't recognize my printer, except added manually). I am currently running avira which looks like may have been a problem with a previous post (or avast which I ran previously). Any other suggestions?

    thanks

  54. lldgcalgary says:

    After a fresh xp install on a new hard drive. My only real hardware issue is no recognized sound card on the motherboard. I have since added a sound card (pci) and the system will not recognize the new hardware. This blank device manager issue occured prior to a sp2 or sp3 update. I have tried all the suggestions I could find in the first 20 google solution pages. These 2 items in this solution are already set properly on my system. Spent over 3 hours trying to fix this problem without success.

  55. Tim says:

    This is the problem I have right now. How did you get around it please?

  56. tom says:

    When Norton ran out of days is when the device manager list disappeard for me.

  57. alex says:

    I’ve tried both methods on vista. Still blank. 12/30/11. Thanks in advance.

  58. derek says:

    Life-saving instructions on the Registry settings. I installed Windows Security Essentials on windows 7 and all these permissions were reset, so that Device Manager was blank, I could not view adapter settings in Network and sharing Center, and so on. Fixing the ENUM settings worked and these are now restored. Thank you very much.
    Don't forget to run REGEDIT as administrator!

  59. vinod says:

    Thanks a million! Solved it!!!

  60. Stefan says:

    Here is what it says:

    Windows Security

    Unable to save permission changes on Enum

    Access is denied.

  61. Diggz says:

    Thanx alot… worked great !!!!!

  62. Chris says:

    Here’s the solution, go to “C:\Windows\System32\” locate your “svchost.exe” then right click select run as administrator.And lastly, restart your computer. That’s it and it works. All my drives are visible in the device manager.

  63. Chuck says:

    I am having the same issue… win7 initialy allowed my to do everything fine, now as an administrative user I can’t do or see anything like everyone else.

    I have tried all your methods will no results… tried several other little tricks, but again nothing.

    I really do not want to have to start with a clean system again.

    Thanks in advance for any help you be able to offer

  64. Mike says:

    Hi,

    Many thanks this solved my problem in a few minutes.

    The new installation of NIS 2012 that I carried out over the top of the existing NIS 2012 must have changed the permissions in the registery. Once I reset these the device manager came back to life – and after rebooting I had all my network connections again.

    The only thing I had to change was the final step to tick “Replace permission entries on all child objects with entries shown here that apply to child objects” and OK it.

    Thanks again

    Mike

  65. faijas says:

    100% working thank u

  66. Eric says:

    Thank you Chris, after the steps in the article not working for me, I followed yours and I couldn’t believe the fix was so easy. I recommend everyone try this, if the other steps didn’t work. Thanks so much!

  67. Mani says:

    It worked fine… thanks for ur suggestion….

  68. Josse says:

    Wow!!… 1st method works great. Thank you so much!

  69. modise says:

    My device manager is still empty after trying all the above recommendations!

  70. Kevin says:

    After the warning box it says “unable to save permission changes on Enum. Access is denied.” Everything to that point was as you said.

  71. HAP says:

    Tried everything listed in this thread…. started with thorough malware removal before anything and it may have value to know that there were substantial threats. In any case, Enabled ALL Windows services and verified that those mentioned are enabled & started. Also modified permissions…. none of which had any effect – the Device Manager remains utterly blank. In addition, there is no LAN connection listed when right clicking My Network Places…. but there is an Internet Gateway listed. Clearly some critical networking components are either damaged or missing.

    Running System File Checker now. If that does nothing, I plan to do an over-install (aka repair install) of WinXP Pro v2002 SP3. If that solves nothing then I’ll be really confused!

    Any thoughts, ideas, welcome.

  72. Michelle says:

    I managed to get to method 2 to set up my Device Manager Box since it was blank and I have both “Everyone” and “System” in the list. When I got to checking the box for “Replace all entries for child objects…”, I got the message “Registry Editor cannot make changes to the security key or subkeys.” HELP. I am initially trying to install an output device driver and cannot.

  73. Angel says:

    Did everything you said but it says access denied! :( I’m the lone user of this computer and is supposed to have admin access so I don’t understand why it isn’t allowing me to make changes.

  74. Kuldeep says:

    Thanks for method 2, it fixed my problem!

  75. Ste Robinson says:

    When I try to confirm the permission changes I get the following message: “Unable to save permission changes on Enum. Access is denied”

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