Install a Prolific PL2303 driver in Windows 11

When you are using a device that connects to the computer through a serial port, you’ll end up using 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 the communication with serial ports (like RS232) through USB. This allows a modern computer with only USB ports to use legacy equipment that uses 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

Examples of the type of products 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 (PL23XX_Prolific_DriverInstaller_v402.zip 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 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 Manger.
    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 to 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 a new 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 if 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.

 

cFosSpeed Driver for Windows preventing Windows 11 update

When you are finally ready to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 and your system is meeting the system requirements, you can still run into issues that prevent the upgrade. The cFosSpeed Driver can prevent the upgrade to Windows 11, as the Windows Update process will report it as something that needs your attention. Essentially it states that “a service isn’t ready for this version of Windows 10”.

Widnows cFosSpeed driver

What is the cFosSpeed driver?

The cFosSpeed driver is an Internet accelerator software solution. It optimizes Internet traffic on a Windows PC by installing a driver. The software has some advanced network analysis and optimization integrated, but it also allows for the prioritization of streams or protocols. Great for video streaming and gaming.

How did cFosSpeed get on my system?

The solution is integrated with quite a few OEM vendors. Parties like MSI, Asus, ASRock, and Gigabyte include it in their driver bundles for their motherboards. In the case of Asus, you might know it as Turbo LAN, which is a rebranded version of the cFosSpeed software. With MSI it is part of the Dragon Center.

Fix cFosSpeed from blocking the Windows 11 Update

Considering the problem, there are two solutions to the issue with the cFosSpeed driver. The first is to update it to a version that does not block the Windows 11 update. The second option is to uninstall the cFosSpeed driver from your Windows installation.

 

Update the cFosSpeed driver

The first option to update the driver is to check the OEM support site for an updated version of the software that includes the cFosSpeed driver.

For Asus, check their support site and look up your model to see if a new version is available. If so, download it and install it and then try the Windows 11 upgrade again.

For MSI, download and install the latest version of the MSI Dragon Center and after completing the installation, try the Windows 11 upgrade again.

For Gigabyte you will need to download the cFosSpeed Internet Accelerator Software from their site.

For ASRock, the cFosSpeed driver is part of the XFast Lan solution. It can be downloaded from here.

The last option is to download the latest cFosSpeed software from the vendor’s site and install it. Take note that this is a shareware version, which is valid for 30 days. But it should update your cFosSpeed driver so that you can upgrade to Windows 11.

If you have the original cFosSpeed software installed and running, you can click the cFosSpeed icon in the Taskbar and then in the popup menu select Get latest version.

Update cfosspeed driver

Uninstall the cFosSpeed driver

If the driver update did not solve your issue, and you can still not upgrade to Windows 11, the best option is to uninstall the cFosSpeed driver altogether.

In Windows 10:

  1. Open Settings from the Start
  2. In the Settings window, select Apps.
  3. By default, Apps & features should be selected. If not, select that option in the left-hand panel.
  4. Now scroll down in the apps list until you see the cFosSpeed entry (it will include a version number in the name).
  5. Click it, and then click the Uninstall
    Uninstall cfosspeed
  6. When prompted “This app and its related info will be uninstalled.”, click the Uninstall
  7. If the UAC (User Account Control) windows pops up, click the Yes option to allow the uninstaller to run.
  8. Follow the instructions in the cFosSpeed Uninstall Wizard to uninstall the app.
    Uninstall cfosspeed 12If for some reason this does not work, it is also possible to uninstall the cFosSpeed from the Network Properties.

Open the network properties for an active adapter, select the cFosSpeed for faster Internet Connections (NDIS 6) entry, and then click the Uninstall button.

Uninstall cfosspeed network driver

You will again be prompted for a confirmation. Click the Yes option to uninstall the cFosSpeed driver.

After completion, the entry will no longer show in the Network Properties list.

There is no need to repeat this for any other active network adapters. Once uninstalled, it will be removed from all network devices.

Note: Uninstalling the cFosSpeed software using the network option will only remove the Lan Manager component, which is the network driver. The cFosSpeed main application, if installed, will still remain. So, if possible, use the App uninstall option to uninstall cFosSpeed.

After uninstalling the software, try the Windows 11 upgrade again.

If the upgrade still fails, you may need to consider doing a fresh install of Windows 11 rather than an upgrade from Windows 10.

Make sure to also check the article about TMP drivers and how they can affect the Windows 11 upgrade.

Windows Security through Driver Block Rules

Many computers are used for critical tasks or to process sensitive data. To protect a system, especially a portable system, that is running Windows, Microsoft has several security features in the latest Windows releases. Most people know about Microsoft Defender and biometric access, but in Windows 10 and Windows 11, there is also something called driver block rules.

Are Drivers Dangerous?

Device drivers are not dangerous per se. But device drivers, like many other critical components in the Windows operating system, run with a kernel-level execution priority. That means that even if drivers are not malicious, they can allow elevated control access.

Modern device drivers are all digitally signed, and often verified by Microsoft. And in the latest Windows versions unsigned drivers are not allowed to be installed unless special steps are taken to disable driver signature enforcement.

But even with a digital signature, there is no guarantee that the driver is completely safe. Digital signatures can be stolen (hacks of hardware/software companies, like Nvidia recently).

Recent malware attacks have leveraged the vulnerabilities of drivers to compromise system security. It makes a lot of sense to increase the protection of these system components.

What are Driver Block Rules?

Driver block rules are a set of rules that are recommended by Microsoft to block drivers that are malicious or not trusted. Drivers can be submitted to Microsoft for review and analysis and bad ones are added to the vulnerable driver blocklist. Hardware manufacturers and OEM partners will play a big role in keeping the rules actual and relevant.

How to use Driver Block Rules?

Microsoft is including a setting in the Windows Defender configuration to turn on this new feature called Microsoft Vulnerable Driver Blocklist. That means turning it on will activate the protection.

Windows Driver Block Rules

This new feature will be only activated by default on special Windows editions. Windows 10 S mode, and devices that have the Memory Code Integrity feature (or HyperVisor-protected Code Integrity – HVCI).

For Windows systems where the S mode or HVCI is not possible there is another option, which is using the Windows Defender Application Control (WDAC) policy. Details about how to use WDAC and the list of rules can be found on the Microsoft website.

WDAC is all about preventing apps or processes to run kernel level. Use and deployment of the rules is something that will typically be used by organizations with IT staff to implement this.

 

 

How to Manually Install Drivers in Windows 11

With each new version of Windows, more devices are automatically supported. This is also the case for Windows 11. But if your device is not supported, or not automatically installed,  you may need to manually install drivers.

The need to manually install drivers in Windows 11 can also come up when a non-supported device needs to be installed. If hardware is not compatible with Windows 11, but there are drivers for the hardware for previous Windows versions, these older drivers can often be used.

For Windows 11, Windows 10 drivers are almost always compatible. But even Windows 8 or Windows 7 drivers can often be used. Just make sure the right architecture is supported. For Windows 11 all drivers need to be 64-bit since that is the only Windows 11 version available.

Steps to manually install drivers in Windows 11

First, make sure you have the driver file available on your Windows 11 system. Download it from the hardware manufacturer’s website. If possible, use the installer that came with the driver. If that does not work, the manual install process is required.

  1. Make the driver files available in the installable format. That means you need to see files with a .SYS, .CAB, and .INF file extension. File extensions can be made visible in the File Explorer by clicking the View menu, followed by clicking Show in the dropdown menu, and finally selecting File name extensions.
    Windows-11 Show File ExtensionsDepending on the file format of the downloaded drivers, the driver files need to be extracted. For archived files, Windows 11 offers direct support. But other formats might need a separate program to extract them. (.7Z file extension – 7-Zip; .RAR file extension – WinRAR).
    I would recommend installing the 7-Zip program, as it actually supports many archive and compression formats. Even some .EXE files can be extracted with it.
  2. Once the driver files are available, open the Device Manager. Press the Windows + R keys, and type msc in the Run window. Press Enter or click OK.
    Windows-11 Start Device Manager
  3. In the Device Manager, select the device for which you need to install the driver.
  4. Right-click the device, and in the popup menu click Update driver.
    Windows-11 Update Driver
  5. In the window that shows next, click the option Brose my computer for drivers.
    Browse my computer for drivers
  6. Next, use the Browse button to select the file location that contains the driver files (as downloaded and extracted earlier).
  7. Once selected, click the Next button.
    Manually install drivers in Windows 11
  8. Windows will analyze the driver files and match them with the selected device. If the drivers are compatible with the device, the drivers will be installed and the device should work after this.
  9. Click the Close button to close the window.
  10. Finally, close the Device Manager.

As always, if you have trouble finding support for your hardware in Windows, try using our DriverFinder software to automatically analyze the hardware devices and look for available and compatible drivers.

Windows TPM Drivers

If you are upgrading to Windows 11, or want to secure your PC, dealing with TPM is inevitible. We’ll explain what TPM is all about and what TPM drivers are needed for Windows.

What is TPM?

TPM is short for Trusted Platform Module. TPM is implemented using a hardware chip on the motherboard of a computer. The TPM chip is used to provide a hardware-level security to Windows. It generates encryption keys, which are not accessible from outside of the computer hardware.
Most modern computers (required since 2016) will have a TPM chip on board. In some older systems a TPM chip can be added when not present. Manufacturers of TPM chips include Infineon, STMicroelectronics and Nuvoton. In the Windows device details the manufacturer can also show Intel or AMD.
In older boards, it is often possible to add a TPM module using a pin header.

TPM Module pin header

What is TPM used for?

As mentioned the TPM module enable implementation of hardware-level security, which typically used for encryption of data. Practically speaking, TPM is used for Windows Hello (face recognition, finder print recognition, iris login), BitLocker (drive encryption).

TPM is partly convenience, it is performing a task which otherwise would need to be performed by the CPU and software. And it is partly increased security, decryption of encrypted data is only possible in the system itself (containing the TPM module used for encryption).

Windows 10 already had functionality that used the TPM module, but with Windows 11, Microsoft has made the presence of TPM mandatory. To be specific, Windows 11 requires TPM version 2.0. Version 1.2, which is also present on a lot of older systems is not enough.

The differences in version 2.0 vs version 1.2 are that the new version offers better security features. If you want to know the exact details, Microsoft has more information on TPM.

What TPM version do I have?

Before you check the version, you need to know if TPM hardware is present. Since physically checking the motherboard is not all that practical, the best step is to check the BIOS/UEFI settings.

One thing to keep in mind is that older BIOS versions might not directly support TPM, while the motherboard does. In that case you first need to update the BIOS to access the TPM features of the motherboard.

Check BIOS/UEFI

You can access the BIOS/UEFI through the computer startup process. When rebooting, press the required key (typically F2 or Delete, but it can also be Esc, F10).

Once the BIOS/UEFI screen shows, locate the security settings and then select the TPM, or Intel Platform Trust Technology, or AMD fTPM. If none of these are available, you can safely assume your computer does not have a TPM chip. If the setting is available, make sure it is turned on. The BIOS/UEFI settings for TPM will generally also show the version.

Security Settings in Windows 10

If you are running Windows 10, you can also check the TPM status and version using the Windows Settings option.

  1. Open Settings from the Start
  2. In the Settings window, click Update & Security.
  3. Next, click the Windows Security option in the left-hand pane.
  4. Finally, click the Device security option in the left-hand pane to show the details of your TPM configuration.

If there is no TPM support, you will see “Standard hardware security not supported”. This could mean there is no TPM chip, or it is not enabled in the BIOS/UEFI.

No TPM device

In the case that there is a TPM chip onboard, and it is enabled, you will see the details and version supported.

TPM 2.0 installed

Using the Trusted Platform Module Management

Windows has a special management console for the TPM. This can also be used to check the TPM version details.

  1. In the Start menu, select the Run option (or press Windows key + R).
  2. Then type TPM.MSC and press Enter.

This will bring up the TPM Management window, there you can see the Specification Version for your TPM module.

Truster Platform Module Management Console

Window TPM Drivers

Since the TPM chip is a hardware device, Windows needs to be able to communicate with the device. For this device drivers, or TPM drivers, are required. Although there are different manufacturers of TPM chips, the drivers needed by Windows are the chipset drivers.

Installing the latest Intel chipset or AMD chipset drivers would normally be sufficient to enable support for the TPM functions within Windows 10 or Windows 11.

The Device Manager can be used to check if the drivers for the TPM device are correctly installed. The TPM device will show under the category Security devices as Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (the name can vary depending on the manufacturer).
TPM 2.0 device driverSome manufacturers provider their own driver installers for TPM modules from Nuvoton, Atmel or other third party TPM manufacturers. Check the manufacturer support pages for these.

TPM Firmware

Apart from installing the chipset device drivers, it is may also be needed to update the TPM firmware. This will make sure the TPM device is up to date with the latest security patches and supports Windows 11 requirements.

For Infineon based TPM solutions, the best place to start is their TPM update page. It contains links to different vendors with direct installers for TPM updates.

After updating the firmware you need to clear the TPM. If it is not a new PC, make sure to back up your data first.

  1. In the Windows Settings window Security processor details (see previous steps), click the link Security processor troubleshooting.
  2. Under the header Clear TPM, click the button Clear TPM.
    Clear TPM
  3. In the confirmation windows that follows, click the Clear and restart

With the above information, we hope you can get TPM working in Windows 10 to enable the upgrade to Windows 11. Do not forget to check the other Windows 11 requirements before you upgrade!

And as always, we recommend you keep your drivers up to date with DriverFinder.

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