Ghost Devices in Device Manager

This article will talk about useful information regarding Ghost Devices on your computer, starting with a brief explanation of the terms, troubles that you may experience, and possible solution that you may undergo to get rid of the annoying Ghost Devices.


Hardware devices known as “Ghost Devices” are mostly unnoticeable to PC users because it seems that they do not exist at all. Even viewing your Device Manager and checking for any device related issues, you will not realize that Ghost Devices exist on your computer because they are hidden by default. Ghost Devices are mostly shreds or leftovers of previous device installations, but sometimes they may exist because excessive installations of particular device drivers.

Reasons of Having Ghost Devices:

Let us first consider the shreds or leftovers of a hardware device and basing with the literal meaning, Ghost Devices can be caused to remain on your computer and be listed in your Device Manager if you change or replace a device without uninstalling the initial device first. For example, “Ghost Device” may appear when you are upgrading your hardware such as video card or network card and you just replace it without uninstalling it properly from your device manager. Ghost Devices may also remain hidden in your Device Manager because of the associated software programs to your hardware device.

You can also produce and add to the numbers of your Ghost Devices unconsciously by installing device drivers manually after your computer already detected and installed the device drivers for your hardware. For example, you may add a Ghost Device if you install a device driver for a Plug and Play device without noticing that it is already initiating a connection with your computer.

You might be familiar with unknown devices which are distinguished by yellow warning signs in your Device Manager. What about Ghost Unknown Device? Well, these are the unknown devices included with the list of ghost devices hidden by default in your Device Manager. Now you might wonder, if there are any troubles with ghost devices lurking on your computer?

Troubles of Having Ghost Devices:

Based on our research, even though unwanted, ghost devices are frequently not a particular problem and because they are hidden by default, most PC users remain unaware about them. Still, there are ghost devices that can also trigger device related problems. For example: a ghost CD/DVD hard drive, which turns to be the worst case of ghost device issues. Normally, it will be as simple as removing the old hardware, then replacing it with the new one, but all of a sudden the new hardware is not detected and not displayed in your Device Manager. There are also times that it will be displayed as Unknown Device, or even when all seems normal, the new CD/DVD drive will not work the way you expected.

When it comes to Ghost Unknown Devices, these may be the shreds of any Unknown Devices, which just remained hidden together with the yellow warning signs, that you already cured by going through a process of unknown device driver download (.exe or .zip). It might also be due to the problematic devices that you just disconnected from computer without properly uninstalling them.

Removing Ghost Device Drivers:

You must have the Administrators Right for your computer before proceeding with the following steps, and if not, start your computer in Safe Mode by restarting your computer and press F8 repeatedly before the Windows Startup. Now click “Start” button and click “Run”, type “cmd.exe” (for Windows 7, just type cmd.exe in the search box after clicking the Windows button). In the Command Prompt, type: set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1 then press “Enter”, go to your “Device Manager” by typing devmgmt.msc and click “View”, and then “Show Hidden Devices”. Now you will be able to view the hidden devices including ghost devices, and you will notice the faded icons including devices with yellow warning symbol if there are any such devices present on your computer.

Ghost Device in Device Manager

Ghost Device in Device Manager HID

In the above screenshot, you will notice that the HID-compliant mouse has a replica, an obvious ghost device which may be due to usual replacement of mouse device. You may also notice the faded yellow warning symbol which signifies an Unknown Ghost Device. You can now uninstall and get rid of the ghost devices but remember several of these important notes:

  • The faded devices may include legitimate devices that are not currently connected to your computer. The presence of these faded icons just shows that you have the device drivers for them and will be ready for use when you connect them to your computer.
  • Just uninstall ghost devices (devices with faded icons) if you are 100% sure that you permanently removed the hardware device or if you have the installation CD for the device drivers of that device.
  • There are two more possible cases when it comes to Unknown Ghost Devices, either they are actual problematic device, or the device driver of the device is part of a complex system of drivers, and if uninstalled will cause major problems to your computer.

So if you’re not experiencing any problems on your computer, better not to uninstall anything if you are not pretty sure about it.

Device Manager Driver Scan