Fix: Code 38 - Windows Cannot Load the Device Driver for This Hardware

Nov. 13, 2018 / Updated by Bessie Shaw to Windows 10

“Hello, I don’t know if anybody else has this problem. I recently upgraded to Windows 10 Pro, and when I tried to download onto my USB, I got this message: ‘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. I haven't reformatted anything. I have tried to delete and search for hardware changes, but all to no avail. Any help is appreciated.” – Quoted from Microsoft Community

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Are you also troubled by the Code 38 in Device Manager when you try to use your USB stick? It can be caused by a variety of factors such as software problems, errors in the Windows registry, corrupted device drivers or even the device itself. No worries. It can be resolved. Here are some workable solutions to help you get rid of the Code 38. Try them one by one until you address the issue.

Before you try the recommended solutions below, you can try a quick fix that worked for many users who came across this issue first. Do like this:

1. Press and hold the Shift key down while clicking on Shut down to completely flush memory on power down.

2. Reboot your computer to see if the Code 38 is gone.

If no, read on to try other solutions below.

Solution 1. Uninstall the USB Controller to Troubleshoot Code 38

The error message which says “Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware because a previous instance of the device driver is still in memory. (Code 38)” may appear when the proper driver for the USB device is not detected after the initial installation. In this case, a reinstallation of the USB controller driver can help resolve the issue. To do this, you need to uninstall the USB controller first. Take the following steps:

Step 1. Right click on the Start button and select Device Manager to launch it.

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Step 2. Locate Universal Serial Bus controllers in the Device Manager and double click on it to expand it.

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Step 3. Right click on the Host Controller and select Uninstall device from the pop-up menu to uninstall it.

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After uninstalling the USB controller completely, reboot your computer. Then Windows will reinstall all the USB controllers as well as the USB controller drivers automatically.

Solution 2. Run the Windows Troubleshooter to Get Rid of Code 38

Sometimes the Windows troubleshooter can also help get rid of Code 38 if the issue is with the USB device itself. Do as follows.

Step 1. Type “troubleshoot” into the search bar and click on Troubleshoot in the search results to launch it.

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Step 2. Scroll down to find Hardware and Devices.

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Step 3. Click on it and select Run the troubleshooter under it.

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Then the Windows troubleshooter will detect and fix the issues automatically.

Solution 3. Update the Chipset Drivers with Driver Talent to Resolve Code 38

Normally, there are USB controller drivers contained in the Chipset drivers as well. Therefore, updating the Chipset drivers can also help resolve the issue. Generally, to update the Chipset drivers, you need to download the correct ones from the manufacturer’s website first. It is not easy for computer novices to find the correct Chipset drivers. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to use a professional driver download utility. Driver Talent can be a good choice. It will help you resolve most of the driver issues by downloading and installing the best-matched drivers for your device. Click on the Download Now button below, and you will get it directly. It is safe without virus. Then you can perform the following steps to update the Chipset drivers with Driver Talent.

Download Now


Step 1. Launch Driver Talent and click on the Scan button to perform a full scan on your computer. Then all the iffy drivers on your computer will be listed.

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Step 2. If the MB (Main Board) driver on your computer (in a sense, the MB driver equals to the Chipset driver) is detected as updatable, click on the Update button in the right to update it.

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Step 3. Reboot your computer after updating the MB driver successfully.

The Code 38 should disappear after these steps. You can leave comments below to let us know if all to no avail. Also welcome to share your good ideas on resolving Code 38. If you encounter other error codes, you can find the solutions below:

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