Install a Prolific PL2303 driver in Windows 11

When you use a device that connects to the computer through a serial port, you’ll probably use a USB to serial cable solution. The most common solution for this from Prolific is the PL2303-based solution. In Windows 11 the device would show up in the device manager under the Ports (COM & LPT) category. If it does not or shows an error, you will need to manually install a Prolific PL2303 driver in Windows 11 to get it to work.

What is Prolific PL 2303?

Prolific is a company that offers a Smart-IO chip that offers a solution for communication with serial ports (like RS232) through USB. This allows a modern computer with only USB ports to use legacy equipment with a serial port. The chipsets from Prolific are the PL23xx and PL25xx chipsets and they are available in different versions for UART, RS232, RS485, I2C, and even IEEE1284 (parallel ports).

Serial to USB Type-A cable

Some examples of the type of products that use a serial connection are:

  • Debuggers and programmers
  • Printers
  • Data loggers
  • AV Receivers
  • PLCs
  • Audio equipment
  • Sewing and embroidery machines
  • Switches

If your PC does not have a serial port, many of these devices can still work with a Windows 11-based computer using a USB-to-serial cable. Since the cables are available for USB Type-A ports as well as USB Type-C ports, a solution is available for most Windows 11-based systems.

What if Windows does not have a Prolific PL2303 driver?

If the driver for the Prolific PL 2303 device is not installed in Windows 11, you can either get an error message like “Please install corresponding PL2303 driver to support Windows 11 and further OS”, or the device will show with an error in the Device Manager (typically with a yellow exclamation mark).

Install PL2303 Driver in Windows 11

Prolific PL2303 Driver Error

The error code for the device will be “The device cannot start (Code 10)”.

The result will be that Windows 11 cannot communicate with the device that is connected through the USB to serial cable and any programs trying to use it will not find the device.

Download and install the Prolific PL2303 driver in Windows 11

To get the latest PL2303 driver, download it from the Prolific website.

Make sure you pick the latest version and take note of the chipsets it supports. If the chipset your cable is using is not included in the Windows 11 version, you can try downloading and installing the previous version for Windows 10.

After downloading the ZIP file ( at the time of writing), extract the ZIP file contents, and run the setup program in the subfolder (PL23XX-M_LogoDriver_Setup_402_20220309.exe at the time of writing).

If the User Account Control window shows, click the Yes button to confirm running the installer.

Prolific PL2303 UAC Message

Follow the on-screen instruction in the PL23XX-USB-to-Serial Driver Installer Program window to install the PL2303 driver.

Prolific PL2303 Driver Install

After the installation is complete, you should see the Prolific device in the Device Manager under Ports without any error. Connect the serial device to your serial-to-USB cable and test the device in Windows 11.

For more details about manually installing drivers in Windows 11, check our article about it.

Changing the COM port

When the PL2303 driver is properly installed, a program might still not detect the device that is connected through the USB-to-Serial cable. The reason in many cases is that the program requires the serial device to be connected to a specific COM-port. Especially older solutions often do not support higher COM-port numbers, but expect the device to be connected on COM1 or COM2.

In Windows 11, you can change the COM port number using the Device Manager. Here are the steps:

  1. Right-clicking the Start icon in the Taskbar.
  2. In the menu, click Device Manager.
    Windows 11 start device manager
    Tip: You can also use the Run Press the Windows Key + R, then type “devmgmt.msc” and press the Enter key.
  3. In the Device Manager window, click the Ports (COM & LPT) section to open it and show the ports under it.
    Note: If the Ports section is not shown, clicking Show hidden devices in the View menu might bring it up.
  4. Now right-click the COM port to change, and in the popup menu select Properties.
  5. Select the Port Settings tab.
  6. Click the Advanced button.
  7. Change the COM Port Number to the desired COM port number (it will only allow unassigned numbers).
    Windows 11 change COM port number
  8. Click the OK button to confirm.
  9. Click the OK button on the Properties
  10. Close the Device Manager.

Next, try the program that uses the device on the COM port again. If it does not work immediately, restart Windows first.

Solving Prolific PL2303 serial-to-USB problems

In some cases, installing the driver alone does not solve your problem. As mentioned in the previous section, changing the COM-port can be necessary for a program to find the device connected through the PL2303 cable.

But there are other possible causes of problems with the Prolific PL2303 cables too.

Specific driver version required

For some devices, installing the latest Prolific driver might actually cause the device to stop being recognized or working. This can be the result of the device no longer being supported by the new driver version.

In the Device Manager, use the Roll Back Driver option on the Prolific device, or use the Update Driver option to manually select a different version.

To prevent Windows from re-installing a new version when the new version is installed through Windows Update, you can disable Windows driver updates. Either disable driver updates altogether or just prevent the specific update that pertains to the Prolific driver.

Install a Serial port expansion card

This solution is only possible if you have a desktop computer. But if you do, and the Prolific cable-based solution is not working for your serial device, consider the option to install a serial port expansion card into the PC.

Once installed, you can connect your serial device directly to a serial port rather than using a serial-to-USB conversion solution.

Prolific PL2303 and FTDI cables

Apart from installing the correct device driver for the PL2303-based cable, it is also important to consider the quality of the cable. Most USB-to-serial cables these days are either Prolific PL2303 based or FTDI based. But even though these are the most common chipsets, there are quality differences in the cables sold online. So, if you are facing problems with a serial device, do consider trying an alternative USB-to-serial cable.


How to Install a Synaptics Touchpad Driver

Most touchpads on laptops and notebooks are using a Synaptics device. For the touchpad to work, Windows will need a Synaptics touchpad driver to be installed. The driver ensures the touchpad is recognized as a pointing device, replacing the need for an external mouse.

But even if you prefer an external mouse, it is good to have the touchpad working so that you have a working pointing device in case you forget the mouse. And don’t forget about all the extra features modern touchpads offer (e.g. multi-finger gestures, area taps, etc.).

Install a Driver Using the Device Manager

Depending on the Windows version you’re using, support for many devices is included. As such, it’s possible to use the Windows Device Manager to install the Synaptics touchpad driver.

It is not guaranteed that the driver will be the latest version from the manufacturer, nor may it offer all features. However, in many cases, a working pointing device can be achieved this way.

For Windows 10:

  1. Right-click the Start button.
  2. In the popup menu that appears, click Device Manager.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
  3. In Device Manager, locate the entry called “Mice and other pointing devices”, and then click to expand that category.
  4. The Synaptics pointing device should be listed here as something called “Synaptics SMBus Touchpad”.
    Note: If the Synaptics SMBus Touchpad is not listed in this category, check if a category called Other devices exists, and then open that (1). The device will be listed here with a different name, most likely as Unknown device. Just click that and then follow the next steps.
  5. Right-click the device and then click Update driver (2).
    Synaptics Touchpad Driver
  6. Next, select the option to Search automatically for drivers.
    Search for drivers automatically
  7. Wait for Windows to search for the driver and install it.

Enabling the Synaptics Touchpad Driver

If no device is shown in the Device Manager at all, make sure you haven’t disabled the touchpad on your laptop.

Some laptop manufacturers have incorporated special function keys to disable and enable the touchpad (Asus laptops use FN + F9, Dell uses Fn + F3, Lenovo uses F6, etc.. Check your laptop manual for details).

Check if the touchpad is enabled in Windows 10, by using the Windows search bar and then typing “touchpad settings”. Click Touchpad settings under the best match results, and make sure that Touchpad (1) is set to On.

Windows 10 Touchpad SettingsIn addition, check whether the setting for ‘Leave touchpad on when a mouse is connected‘ is enabled or disabled (2). If it is disabled, and an external mouse is connected, the touchpad will also be disabled.

How to Manually Install a Synaptics Touchpad Driver from the Manufacturer

To install a Synaptics touchpad driver, you first need to download the driver installer from the laptop manufacturer. Using the specific touchpad driver from the manufacturer will guarantee that all functionality is available. Manufacturers often offer features beyond the standard Synaptics touchpad driver, even though it is not always the latest version of the Synaptics driver.

  1. Locate the support website for your laptop brand.
  2. Look up the laptop model.
  3. Download the touchpad driver.
  4. After downloading, run the driver installer and follow the on-screen instructions.

Here are some of the more common support sites for laptop manufacturers:

Lenovo  (For the Synaptics UltraNav Driver for Windows)
Hewlett Packard (HP)

How to Automatically Install a Synaptics Touchpad Driver

If you’re not sure about the exact brand and model of your laptop, or you find manually installing a touchpad driver tedious. You can use DriverFinder to automatically locate the driver for you.

The DriverFinder program scans your laptop for all hardware devices that are present. Using its own device driver database, it locates the appropriate driver for the devices. This includes Synaptics touchpad drivers.

Note: Drivers in the DriverFinder database are sourced DIRECTLY from hardware manufactures so rest assured that the right driver update is recommended.

  1. Download the DriverFinder program.
  2. Get a license and Activate the program.
  3. Run a Scan using the program.
  4. Download the driver(s) from the scan results.
    Download Synaptics Touchpad driver using DriverFinder
  5. Run the driver installer.

Another benefit of using DriverFinder is that you can update ALL the drivers for your laptop (including sound drivers, video drivers, etc.), and not just the Synaptics touchpad driver.


Install a Driver in Windows Compatibility Mode

When drivers are being installed, it’s important that they MATCH the Windows operating system (OS) that is installed on the PC. However, when Microsoft releases a new OS (e.g., Windows 11), it’s impossible for ALL hardware manufacturers to simply comply and have new drivers immediately for the new OS.

To solve this issue – and to prevent your devices from simply stopping functioning when you upgrade to a new Windows OS – Microsoft has the Windows Compatibility Mode feature. It can be used to execute programs, including driver installation programs, in a mode that is compatible with an older version of Windows.

Here is how to use the Windows Compatibility Mode to run a driver installer:

  1. Right-click the driver installer file for the driver you want to install and then select Properties in the popup menu.
  2. Select the Compatibility tab.
  3. Under Compatibility Mode, select the checkbox named Run this program in compatibility mode for:
  4. Click the down arrow and select the Windows version of the driver.

    Tip: If needed, you can also select the option to Run this program as an administrator. Many driver installers require this option if the user account does not have administrative privileges.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Install the driver by double-clicking the driver installation file to execute it.
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