How to fix DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors in Windows 10

How to fix DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors in Windows 10-1

As the title might suggest, this Windows 10 error has to do with drivers. As improved as Windows 10 is, the sheer variety and volume of hardware drivers out there in the world makes it almost impossible to be compatible with all of them. If your computer generates this message, that is exactly what is happening.

Usually, the error syntax will be ‘DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL (drivername.sys)’. The name in brackets will include the name of the driver causing the problems. It is one of the more useful error codes within Windows as it directs you to the root of the problem.

There are a couple of ways to handle this error. Depending on what driver is erroring depends on whether you get a BSOD during boot or just when you load the app that calls the driver. If it’s the latter, you can perform these steps from the desktop. If your computer BSODs during boot, you will have to load into Safe Mode from the installation media before trying it.

Replace the driver within Windows 10

To quickly fix DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors in Windows 10, we should remove and replace the driver in question. Here’s how.

  1. Identify the driver file mentioned in the brackets in the error. Google is your friend if it isn’t clear.
  2. Right click on the Windows Start button and select Control Panel.
  3. Select ‘Uninstall a Program’ underneath Programs.
  4. Find the driver in question and uninstall it completely.
  5. Download and install the latest Windows 10 compatible driver from the manufacture’s website and install.

In the vast majority of cases, replacing the driver with the newest Windows 10 release will fix the issue. Even if the driver isn’t natively Windows 10 compatible, Windows 10 should play nicely with it. Although, given that Windows 10 has been out over a year now, there really is no excuse for any relatively recent hardware to not have a compatible driver.

How to fix DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors in Windows 10-2

If for some reason your system won’t allow you to uninstall the driver in the traditional manner, we can perform some command line magic to address the issue. What we can do is rename the driver file in question, which will force Windows to either load a default driver or to ignore the hardware until you can download a fresh driver.

How to fix DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors in Windows 10-3

Open a command prompt window as an administrator.

  1. Type ‘cd C:\Windows\System32\Drivers’. Cd = change directory to C: and the drivers file within Windows (assuming you have Windows on C:).
  2. Type ‘ren drivername.sys drivername.sys.old’. Rename the file mentioned in the error code to .old which is standard Windows form for previous version files.
  3. Reboot your computer.
  4. Windows will now either show an ‘installing new device’ box or do nothing. Much depends in the specific driver.

Now Windows will either load default drivers, download new ones automatically or ignore the hardware for now. Much depends on how you have Windows Update set up and the hardware in question. Either way, once you install new drivers the DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL should go away for good.

Posted by Jamie on August 22, 2016

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