How to Fix Code 39 Errors

A troubleshooting guide for code 39 errors in device manager

The Code 39 error is one of several Device Manager error codes. In most cases, it's caused by either a missing driver for that particular piece of hardware or by a Windows Registry issue.

While less common, the error can also be caused by a corrupt driver or driver related file.

Any of Microsoft's operating systems could experience a Code 39 Device Manager error including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and more.

Code 39 Error Message

The Code 39 error will almost always display exactly like this:

Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware. The driver may be corrupted or missing. (Code 39)

Details on Device Manager error codes like this one are available in the Device Status area in the device's properties. See How to View a Device's Status in Device Manager if you're not sure how to do that.

Screenshot of the Code 39 Device Manager error code that reads Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware. The driver may be corrupted or missing

Device Manager error codes are exclusive to Device Manager only. If you see the Code 39 error elsewhere in Windows, chances are it's a system error code, which you should not troubleshoot as a Device Manager issue.

This error could apply to any hardware device listed in Device Manager. In most cases, however, it appears on optical disc drives like CD and DVD drives.

How to Fix a Code 39 Error

  1. Restart your computer if you haven't done so already.

    There is always the slim possibility that the Code 39 error you're seeing was caused by some fluke with Device Manager or your BIOS. If that's true, a simple reboot might fix it.

  2. Did you install a device or make a change in Device Manager just before you noticed the Code 39? If so, there's a good chance that the change you made caused the error.

    Undo the change, restart your PC, and then check for the error again.

    Depending on what changes you made, some solutions might include:

  3. Delete the UpperFilters and LowerFilters registry values. A common cause of Code 39 errors is the corruption of these two specific registry values in the DVD/CD-ROM Drive Class registry key.

    Deleting similar values in the Windows Registry could also fix the error that appears on hardware other than a DVD or CD drive. The UpperFilters/LowerFilters tutorial linked above will show you exactly what you need to do.

  4. Reinstall the drivers for the device. Uninstalling and then reinstalling the drivers for the device that's experiencing the error is a likely solution to this problem.

    If a USB device is generating the Code 39 error, uninstall every device under the Universal Serial Bus controllers hardware category in Device Manager as part of the driver reinstall. This includes any USB Mass Storage Device, USB Host Controller, and USB Root Hub.

    Properly reinstalling a driver, as in the instructions linked above, is not the same as simply updating a driver. A full driver reinstall involves completely removing the currently installed driver and then letting Windows install it over again from scratch.

  5. Update the drivers for the device. It's possible that installing the latest manufacturer supplied drivers for a device could fix the problem. If this works, it means that the stored drivers that you reinstalled in Step 4 were probably corrupted.

  6. Replace the hardware. As a last resort, due to a malfunction with the hardware, you may need to replace the device causing the error.

    It's also possible that the device isn't compatible with this version of Windows. You can check the Windows HCL to be sure.

    If you're convinced there is still an operating system component to this Code 39 error, you could try a repair install of Windows and if that doesn't work, a clean install of Windows. We don't recommend doing either before you try replacing the hardware, but they may be necessary if you've exhausted all of your other options.

  7. Your error should now be fixed.

Need More Help?

If you're not interested in fixing this problem yourself, see How Do I Get My Computer Fixed? for a full list of your support options, plus help with everything along the way like figuring out repair costs, getting your files off, choosing a repair service, and a whole lot more.

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