I recently had a problem where I opened the device manager and found it empty! It’s empty here! Just empty! It was very strange and it took me a while to figure out what the problem was!
If your Device Manager is completely empty or empty, then there are two possibilities for the problem: either you have a critical Windows service disabled, or your registry permissions for the Device Manager key are corrupted.
Here’s how to fix the problem by enabling the appropriate Windows service or changing the permissions in the registry.
Method 1 – Enable Windows Plug and Play service
Apparently Plug and Play must be enabled in Windows Device Manager to work properly. You can enable the service by going to Start, Control Panel, opening Administrative Tools and clicking Services.
Scroll down and find Plug and Play service. Double-click it and make sure Startup Type is set to Automatic, and click Start if the service is not running.
Make sure your device manager is still empty or not. If so, you can also try enabling additional Windows services by selecting Start, Run, and typing MSCONFIG. Click the Services tab and select Enable All.
Restart your computer and you should now hopefully be able to see all hardware devices in Device Manager. If not, try Method 2!
Method 2 – Edit Registry Permissions
Another reason the device manager might be empty is for security issues with the key in the registry. To fix this, click Start, then Run and type REGEDT32. Click on the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE window or expand the hive and navigate to the following key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM CurrentControlSet Enum
Now right click on Enum and select Permissions. If the group or user names list field is empty, then this is the problem! It should have two names: System and Everyone.
Click the Add button, enter All and click OK. Select the Allow read for everyone check box. Now click Add again and enter System. Check the Allow box next to Read and Full System Access. It should look like this:
When highlighting a system, both checkboxes under Allow must be checked. Also remember to click the Advanced button after adding both users and selecting Reset Permission Entries for all child objects with the entries shown here that apply to the child objects.
Click OK, and if a warning message appears, just click OK. Close Registry Editor and restart your computer. You should now be able to see everything in Device Manager.
If you still have an issue with an empty device manager leave a comment here! Enjoy!