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More tips for troubleshooting Windows XP Device Manager error codes

Brien Posey continues his series on the Windows XP Device Manager with more error code explanations and solutions. He begins by taking a look at error code 16, which indicates that Windows could not identify all of the resources that a device uses.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Brien M. Posey

Previously in this series, I provided some troubleshooting tips for various error codes that might be displayed by the Windows XP Device Manager. In this article, I will talk about some more Device Manager error codes and workarounds, starting with error code 16.

Error code 16

In most cases, you will only receive error code 16 on Windows XP systems that are running legacy or non-plug-and-play hardware. The actual error code indicates that Windows XP could not identify all of the resources that the device uses. Fortunately, correcting this problem is fairly easy.

To begin, open the Device Manager, right-click on the device that is experiencing difficulties and select the Properties command from the resulting shortcut menu. Upon doing so, the Device Manager will display the device's properties sheet. Go to the properties sheet's Resources tab and look for the identified resource. The unidentified resource will be designated with a question mark.

The technique for assigning resources varies from device to device. In most cases, you should be able to just select a new resource from the drop-down list. If Windows XP will not allow you to do this, then verify that the Use Automatic Settings check box is cleared and then click the Change Settings button.

Error code 18

This particular error code indicates that Windows XP requires the device's driver to be reinstalled. Typically, you will only receive this error if the device driver has been damaged. The easiest way of troubleshooting this problem is to right-click on the device that is experiencing difficulties and then select the Uninstall command from the resulting shortcut menu. Once the device driver has been uninstalled, simply scan for hardware changes and Windows will give you an opportunity to install a new device driver.

Error code 19

This is one of the more difficult errors to troubleshoot. Error code 19 indicates that the registry entries related to the device are corrupt. Specifically, there are three different registry problems that can cause this error to occur. Those conditions are:

  • Multiple services are defined for a device
  • A failure occurs while opening the service subkey
  • Windows cannot obtain the driver name from the service subkey

If you do an Internet search on this particular error code, you'll find many different courses of action. I tend to think that the best thing to initially try is to boot Windows XP using the Last Known Good Configuration. Other options include uninstalling the driver and scanning for hardware changes or launching the Troubleshooting Wizard by clicking the Troubleshoot button found on the General tab of the device's properties sheet.

Unfortunately, it seems Microsoft does not publish specific instructions on how to manually correct this problem by editing the registry. This means that if none of the other repair techniques work, you may find yourself having to restore a backup or reinstall Windows XP.

Error code 21

Error code 21 usually involves a situation in which the administrator is faster than the computer. This error code means that Windows is in the process of removing the device, but that the process has not yet been completed. Most of the time, you can just wait a few seconds, press the F5 key and the error will go away. If that doesn't fix the problem, then a reboot usually will.

Error code 22

This error simply indicates that a device has been disabled. When a device is disabled, a large red X will appear over the device's icon.

You can make the error go away by re-enabling the device. To do so, right-click on the device and choose the Enable command from the resulting shortcut menu.

Error code 24

Error code 24 is one of the more generic Device Manager error codes. It indicates that the device is either not present, not working properly or does not have all of the necessary drivers installed.

Because this error code can mean several different things, troubleshooting the problem can be a bit tricky. If it seems that Windows XP thinks that the device is not present, then the problem could be bad hardware or you may have an outdated driver that does not fully recognize the hardware.

Occasionally, you may also find that error code 24 occurs if the device has been prepared for removal, but has not yet been removed. In such cases, the error should go away as soon as the device is removed.

Microsoft's recommended course of action for the problem is to run the Troubleshooting Wizard. You can access this wizard by clicking the Troubleshooting button found on the General tab of the device's properties sheet.

Error code 28

This is one of the more common error codes. It indicates that no drivers are installed for the device. You can correct this problem by right-clicking on the device and choosing the Update Driver command from the resulting shortcut menu.

So now we have explanations and solutions for Windows XP Device Manager error codes 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24 and 28. The next article in this series, I will discuss more error codes.


Intro plus error codes 1 and 3
Error codes 10, 12 and 14
 Error codes 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24 and 28


Brien M. Posey, MCSE, has received Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional Award four times for his work with Windows Server, IIS and Exchange Server. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities, and was once a network administrator for Fort Knox. You can visit his personal Web site at


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