How Do I Get Rid of Phantom or Hidden Devices?


I did a post recently about Extending Your Activation Grace Period on Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2. I had been working on some virtual machines I needed for a presentation I was doing and needed to get the machines up running without burning a product key and activating. Once I resolved my issue by extending the activation grace period the machines booted up fine. I was able to log on and get down to prepping my demos.

Not so fast. I found that my machine had a network adapter called Local Area Connection 2 and it was configured for DHCP, which was strange, where did the original Local Area Connection go that had the correct IP address in it? I looked in the Device Manager and didn’t see another network adapter, even when I select Show hidden devices in the view dropdown menu. That’s OK, I’ll just configure this new network adapter the way it should be, with IP address of I get an error telling me that the address is already being used by another adapter in the machine, if I continue I could get address conflicts if the adapter gets enabled. I tell it to go ahead and configure it anyway.

Once done I'm back looking at my network connections. I want to rename my connection from Local Area Connection 2 to Corpnet, but it says I can’t, again saying there’s a connection already called Corpnet. This is annoying me now!!  🙂

I find out that what I need to do is set a system variable that will actually enable me to see the hidden devices in Device Manager.

So How Did I Do it?

In order to work around this display phantom/hidden device when using the Show hidden devices in Device Manager I had to set the correct variable. See the following couple of steps:

  1. Bring up a Command Prompt.
  2. At the command prompt, type the BOLDED lines, pressing ENTER after each line:
    1. set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
    2. start devmgmt.msc
  3. Click on the View menu and select Show hidden devices.

Lo and behold there’s my phantom device!!! I deleted it with pleasure and was now able to rename my connection to Corpnet. All is well in the Baker demo world.   🙂

NOTE: When you quit Device Manager and close the Command Prompt window, the set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1 variable is turned off so you cannot see the phantom devices.  If you want it to be there permanently configure it as a system variable on the computer.

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