Although Windows 2000 is a Plug and Play operating system that automatically recognizes hardware and installs support for it, it doesn’t always respond well to change. For example, if you move a PCI adapter from one slot to another, instead of changing the information in the registry to reference the new location, Windows 2000 installs a new instance of the device. With some devices, this doesn’t necessarily pose a problem because the device can continue functioning. But some devices can’t. Here’s how to resolve such a conflict.

Adapter move leads to resolution problem
A TechRepublic member recently discovered that after moving a display adapter, it reverted to 640 x 480 at 16 colors. Repeated attempts to change the resolution all ended in the Blue Screen of Death. The member tried removing the devices from Device Manager in normal and Safe Mode, without any effect. Here’s a registry hack that can solve the member’s problem.

Warning about editing the registry

This article describes ways to edit your system registry. Using the Windows Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that will require you to reinstall your operating system and could cause you to lose data. TechRepublic does not and will not support problems that arise from editing your registry. Use the Registry Editor and the following directions at your own risk.

Look for VEN registry subkeys
Log on as Administrator and remove the device from Device Manager, but don’t reboot. Open Regedt32.exe, and select this key:

You’ll find several subkeys that start with VEN; each of these keys contains device settings for the system’s various PCI devices. With the PCI key selected, choose Security | Permissions. Then, add the Administrators group and grant it Full Control.

Next, browse through the VEN keys until you find the device causing the problem. You’ll find multiple instances of the device under its key. Delete the device keys, but leave the VEN key alone. Finally, reset permissions on the keys to remove the Administrators group, close the Registry Editor, and restart the system. Windows 2000 should redetect and reinstall the card, and it should then function normally.

Plug and Play vs. Plug and Pray

Plug and Play has come along way since it was first introduced, but has it lived up to the promise of effortless hardware installation? How accurate have you found Windows to be at detecting hardware? Are there specific hardware brands that continuously have problems with Plug and Play? Post a comment to this article and share your thoughts.