USB Mass Storage error code 38 (windows 8.1)

  gilbert12113 10:50 30 Apr 2018

I have had a DEL XPS15 laptop for ages (5.2 years) without this issue showing at all. Recently 2-5 months ago, it appeared from time to time ; now it shows up almost every time.

  • From time to time, I use an external disk drive (generally a version of a Western Digital My Passport, whether ultra or elements or whatever); also USB flash drives

  • After use, the HDD is dismounted cleanly (these are my backups, I would not dare endangering them)

  • when, after that, plugging the same or another HDD, more often than not, the USB device is not recognized (nothing showing as mounted, USBDeview showing purple dots for each device).

  • Windows Troubleshooting points to the Code 38 error:

Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware because a previous instance of the device driver is still in memory. (Code 38) The driver could not be loaded because a previous version of the driver is still in memory.

It may be the case that the situation is fixed by itself after some time (some could be a couple of hours - no measurement there). It is definitively resolved by a reboot. Looking at other posts elsewhere, I tried to uninstall all USB drivers so that they are installed back on a per needs basis : this also works, but no more than just rebooting.

Of course, I checked the device driver. Windows tell me it is the latest version. (6.3.9600.18224, Microsoft Windows, 21/06/2006).

Some friends suggested the following:

  • install drivers for the WD: (1) I could not find any (2) anyway, I get the issue with Flash drives
  • repair Windows 8.1: (1) I do not have a CD, this is DELL (2) I would not want to restart from scratch a clean install (too much history to wipe everything)
  • upgrade to Windows 10: I will do that when I get a new computer, and want to keep this one for a museum (half a joke)

I would be fine with a way to force the unloading (e.g., a script) the device driver from memory so that it can be reloaded with rebooting the computer.


  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 12:59 30 Apr 2018

Use USBDeview to uninstall all the WD devices and then reboot

the HDDs will be recognised and drivers reinstalled next time you plug them in.

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