CDROM drives with yellow exclamation point in Windows XP



I ran into something I hadn’t yet seen firsthand today. A PC (running Windows XP home) with 2 optical drives (CD-RW and DVD drive). However, neither cd drive showed up in My Computer and both of them had a yellow exclamation point in the device manager listing. Of course, two drives don’t just go bad at the same time, so I wondered if it might be the Secondary IDE connector on the system board or the cable that was causing the trouble. In retrospect, I might could have assumed that they wouldn’t show at all if that were the case, but I checked against a usb connector and good cd drive just to be sure that we could rule out hardware as the problem. So, then it came time to see if the driver was the problem.

Both devices gave an error code 39 in the properties view (under the device manager) and that essentially reports that either the driver is either missing or corrupted.

(Here’s the exact message:
Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware.
The driver may be corrupted or missing. (Code 39) )

The files seemed to be there and windows seemed to verify them as being ok, so the next visit was Microsoft Support. This Knowledge base article (320553) seemed the most relevant. I followed the instructions there which took me to the registry editor.

There, I navigated to HKEY_Local_Machine/System/CurrentControlSet/Control/Class/{4d36e965-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}

and I exported that key as a backup to the desktop.

Next, I looked at the Microsoft directions. They instructed to delete the REG_MULTI_SZ datatype named UpperFilters. There was a note there that if this data type did not exist to try solution 2 which was to “uninstall” the drive from the device list and scan for new devices. Well, instead of going on to delete the REG_MULTI_SZ datatype named LowerFilters (which WAS there and the next step in solution 1 to the problem.) I dutifully closed the registry editor and tried a couple of approaches of removing the devices (right click in device manager and select “uninstall”) and then adding them back in. (scan for hardware changes/add new hardware/reboot.)

None of those seemed to work and so I revisited the instructions and removed the only REG_MULTI_SZ datatype that was at the appropriate registry key (LowerFilters) and then uninstalled the driver for both drives and then rebooted again.

This final fix worked with no problem. The devices were detected on the reboot and a disc was tested in both drives without event. It should be noted that there is also a utility called XP_CD-dvd-Fix.exe available at dougknox.com that’s highly recommended for this (although I haven’t tried it.)

There’s another Knowledge Base article from Microsoft (Q314060) that specifically relates this to the removal of Easy CD Creator. However, from what I’ve read, it could be caused by any third party software that would try to access the cdrw drive(s).

So that’s one way that missing cd drives in Windows XP might be solved…..

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