How to Fix Driver PNP Watchdog Error on Windows

Critical errors in Windows result in a blue screen showing the error details. The DRIVER PNP WATCHDOG error is one of these types of errors. Depending on the Windows version it will also show error code 0xc1900101. As the error message already indicates, the error is related to a driver and to something called PNP. PNP refers to plug-and-play and is basically a concept that allows devices in computers to be automatically detected and installed.

Driver PNP Watchdog error

The error mostly occurs during a Windows installation or an upgrade. Since the error relates to a driver, which operates on a high-security level in Windows, the error results in the operating system being halted.

Causes for the Driver PNP Watchdog Error

Like any BSOD error on Windows, it is best to check the crash dump or minidump if available. The Microsoft WinDbg tool can be used to analyze a crash dump file. This process will help identify which driver caused the crash. That does not always mean the driver itself is causing the problem, but it helps pinpoint where to look for a solution.

The most common causes for this problem are disk or disk controller related. The inability to read or write data at some point can cause the blue screen error. Disk controllers, USB controllers, Raid controllers, and SATA controllers, all need the right driver to prevent problems. But even a faulty SSD can cause this type of error!

Steps to fix the error

I suggest you also have a look at the article to solve the BSOD related to power state failures. In this, the general approach to fixing BSODs is outlined and many of those steps will apply here.

Windows will not boot at all

If your Windows device does not start at all, this will limit the troubleshooting options. The first thing to try is to start Windows in Safe Mode. If that succeeds, you can execute some, if not all, of the steps in the section Windows will still boot.

If Windows will not start at all, the only options are to use a bootable USB stick for your Windows version.

  1. Make sure you can boot from the USB by configuring the BIOS options.
  2. Make sure you have a UB stick with a bootable copy of Windows on it.
  3. Plug the USB stick into a USB port and reboot the device.
    Boot Windows from USB
  4. When the screen shows Press any key to boot from USB, press a key.
  5. When the Windows install screen comes up select the option Repair your computer in the bottom left. This will restart the device again and get you to Advanced Recovery.
  6. Select the Advanced options to see more troubleshooting options.
  7. Next, select Troubleshoot.
  8. You can now try the Startup Repair option, use the Command Prompt for disk checking options, Uninstall Updates to revert to a previous configuration, change UEFI Firmware settings to configure the hardware of the device, or use System Restore if you have any previous restore point that can be used to restore the system.
    Windows Startup Advanced Options
    Note: For Windows 10, the options are slightly different, but offer similar recovery and repair options.

If none of these steps work, try resetting the BIOS or UEFI to load the default options. The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) feature of the BIOS will allow devices to be configured automatically in most cases, which will ensure correct settings. Apart from that, try the diagnostic options in the BIOS/UEFI to test the hardware. If a problem is found at the hardware level, a component might need to be replaced. Setting a SATA controller to IDE has also helped some people solve this problem.

Although a bit more hands-on, check the cables in the system. A loose connector on any of the internal devices (not just storage related) can cause the error.

If the solutions so far don’t work, the only remaining option is to completely reinstall Windows from the bootable USB. I would recommend formatting (or initializing) the drive you will install Windows on. If there are any problems with the disk they can be detected during that process.

Windows will still boot

If you can still start Windows, there are more options to troubleshoot and fix the Driver PNP Watchdog error. Use the steps below to try and solve the error. The sequence is not critical, as any of these steps can provide the solution to the error depending on the actual cause of the problem.

  1. Use the Disk Manager to make sure the disks in the system are properly detected and file formats are correct.
    Windows 11 Disk Management
    Disk Management can be started by right-clicking the Start menu button in Windows 11 and selecting Disk Management in the menu. It is also accessible in the Computer Management
  2. If you are using an SSD, check your drive with a third-party tool. Most manufacturers provide software for this (e.g. Samsung Magician, SanDisk Dashboard, Intel – Solidigm Storage Tool).
    These tools can tell you if the SSD is functioning properly and if the drivers are working correctly.
  3. Use the standard Windows command line tools to check the disk and check the system files.
    Run a command prompt with administrator-level privileges and then run these commands:
    CHKDSK /F /R
    SFC /SCANNOW
    The first command runs a disk check with options to fix errors on the disk and locate bad sectors. The second command scans for the integrity of the Windows system files and repairs any errors found as far as possible.
    Run chkdsk at Windows restart
    Note: If the drive is in use, you can opt to run the disk check at the next startup. This will happen when you run the chkdsk command on a system drive.
  4. Use the Device Manager to check the device drivers.
    Open the Device Manager from the Start
    In the Device Manager window, right-click the devices and use the popup menu option Update driver to make sure the latest driver is installed for the device.
    Update device drivers
    Start with the devices under the Storage controllers and Disk drives categories.
    If you were able to use the WinDbg tool to pinpoint the driver causing the crash, then focus on that device. It may also be possible that you need to do a driver rollback rather than an update. A newer version of the driver can just as easily cause the error as an older version.

Hopefully, the above tips will help you solve your Driver PNP Watchdog error and enable normal use of Windows. If you have any different experiences with this type of error, including alternate solutions, please do leave a comment.

For help finding any new, missing and updated drivers, we suggest using the DriverFinder software.

Check the Version of Your Apple Mobile Device Driver

All Apple devices that can be connected to a PC using the USB port will use the Apple mobile device driver for Windows. To check which version of this driver is installed, use the following steps:

    1. Make sure the iPad, iPhone or iPod is connected to the PC using a USB cable.
    2. Open the Windows Device Manager from the Control Panel, or type “devmgmt.msc” at the Start menu.
    3. In the Device Manager, expand or open the Universal Serial Bus Controllers group.

    1. Locate the Apple Mobile Device USB Driver, and right-click this device.
    2. In the popup menu, select Properties.
    3. Next select the Driver tab.
    4. Check the Driver Date and Driver Version of the Apple USB driver to see if you have the latest version of the driver.

Apple mobile device driver

To update an Apple USB driver, you normally need to install the updated iTunes application. If you download the stand alone Apple USB driver update using DriverFinder, you can simply update the driver without the need to download and install the complete iTunes software.

Once downloaded, simply run the AppleMobileDeviceSupport.msi (or AppleMobileDeviceSupport64.msi for 64-bit Windows versions) to install the new driver.

When you plug your iPod, iPhone or iPad, the new driver will automatically be used!

Back-to-Basics: What is a driver?

When the word driver is mentioned, the first thing you probably think of is the driver of a vehicle, or maybe a golf club if you are a golfer. But this article is really about device drivers, which are small computer programs.

Device drivers are software programs that take care of the communication between an operating system and computer hardware. They translate the generic instructions that the operating system will issue to hardware devices into specific instructions for a specific piece of hardware from a hardware manufacturer.

In Windows you can use the Device Manager to see which devices are present in the computer and what drivers they use.

Who makes device drivers?

A lot of device drivers are included with the operating system itself. If we look at Windows device drivers, then Microsoft makes a lot of device drivers, either by itself or in cooperation with various hardware manufacturers. This will generally ensure that the device driver is best suited for the appropriate Windows version and the hardware devices of those manufacturers.

But there are also a lot of manufacturers that make device drivers themselves, without the help of Microsoft. They will simply use the specifications for a driver from Microsoft for the Windows operating systems, and have their programmers write the device driver. This type of driver is often not included with the operating system, but is available only from the hardware manufacturer directly.

Why is a driver important?

Device drivers ensure that the computer hardware will work as intended. Without the driver, the operating system (Windows) will not be able to recognize the device when inserted or connected to the computer.

Hardware Device Drivers

Using the correct driver will also ensure the hardware device will be fully supported. The wrong driver might offer only partial functionality. For example, a printer scanner device can be used for printing but not for scanning, or a video card will only offer limited screen resolutions, even when capable of higher resolutions.

If the wrong driver is used, there is also the risk of system instability. Hardware resources that are accessed by the driver software might be the wrong ones, and can cause the operating system to crash or hang. In Windows a blue screen error can be the result. The reason for this is that device drivers have a lot of high level access in the operating system to allow them to interact with the hardware devices, so if something goes wrong, it is immediately serious.

What is a signed and unsigned driver?

Signing refers to digital signing, which is a way to certify that a driver, or driver file, is authentic. In the same way that your signature under a document will show that you signed the papers, a digital signature is used to show that a driver was created by a certain software maker or hardware manufacturer. It also tells you that the driver was not modified after it was signed.

An unsigned driver therefore is simply a driver that has not been digitally signed, so there is no way to know for certain where the driver originated from or if it has been modified. That does not mean however that the driver is not valid, as some hardware manufacturers chose not to sign their drivers. Typically that only happens for older drivers, but many of those can still be used.

Windows Vista  and Windows 7 will not allow unsigned drivers to be installed by default, as a way to ensure the integrity of the operating system.

What are driver files?

If we specifically look at Microsoft Windows, then there are a few file types, or extensions, that are driver files. Older versions of Windows used the .VXD extension for driver files. But Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 all use the .SYS file extension for drivers. This is the main driver, but there are other files associated with a driver, either for installation (like: .INF, .CAT, .CAB, .MSI), or for operation (like: .EXE, .DLL, .CPL).

Depending on the hardware device, the size of a driver can vary significantly. Some drivers require only minimal installation, and only have a .SYS, .INF, and .CAT file, while others have a lot of support files for functional reasons and control panels, which allow the user to configure the hardware device. Typically printer drivers and video drivers tend to have large driver installation packages. And lately audio driver files have also increased in size.

Why should you update device drivers?

Like any software, drivers are created by humans and as a result they can contain errors, or bugs. These software defects will come up when the driver is used, so a driver update is created to fix those bugs.

Apart from fixing bugs, driver updates can also contain improvements to the driver software itself. This can result in better performance of the hardware supported by the driver, or new functionality becoming available to the operating system.

A third reason to update drivers is to make sure that maximum compatibility between the hardware and the operating system is guaranteed. For new versions of Windows, like Windows 10, and Windows 11, it is often the case that older device drivers are initially used. This allows manufacturers to specify that their hardware is compatible with new Windows version. Even if the driver is not the best possible version for that new Windows version yet. So driver updates are released later on to improve on the compatibility.

In the same way, new versions of the hardware are supported by existing drivers, while new versions of the drivers are created to improve the support for the new hardware version.

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