How to uninstall a USB device that is no longer connected to a computer?


Microsoft Windows maintains the configuration (enumeration) information for every USB device that has ever been connected, unless you explicitly uninstalled the device before unplugging it. When a USB device is not physically connected to the computer, Windows does not normally display the device in Windows Device Manager. These USB devices are called “non-present” or “phantom” devices.

Windows Device Manager can be used to uninstall or change the properties of non-present USB devices after a session-specific variable has been set. This variable can be set in a command window in Windows 2000 and later. These commands must be “Run as administrator” in Windows 7, Vista or later.

  • set DevMgr_show_NonPresent_Devices=1
  • devmgmt.msc

These commands set the variable and open Windows Device Manager. In the Device Manager window, click the View menu and set the ‘Show hidden devices’ option.

Non-present devices appear with a ghosted icon. Right-click on the non-present device and select ‘Uninstall’ in the fly-out menu.