Fixing “No Audio Output Device Installed” Problem in Windows 10

Sometimes when I start my Windows 10 PC, it does not load audio drivers and shows a speaker icon with red cross icon in the notification area. If I hover the mouse pointer over this speaker icon then it shows – “No Audio Output Device is installed”. What happened to the audio output device that was working the last time the computer was in use? Why is this error showing up and why is Windows not loading the audio device drivers?

Windows 10 - No Audio Output Device

If you open the device manager, you will get more details about the problem. Of course, you will have to select View → Show hidden device in the Device Manager to be able to see the sound devices. Double-clicking on the audio output device will show its status. In the status, it says something like – “Currently, this hardware device is not connected to the computer (Code 45)”.

Windows 10 - No Audio Output Device

Now if you had a portable USB sound card, then you would try detaching it from the USB port and then reattaching it again to fix the problem. But as far as my laptop is concerned, the sound hardware is on a chip somewhere on the motherboard. So what do we do now? Here are some steps to tackle this problem:

  1. Try rebooting your PC. Sometimes when you change hardware configuration in the middle of Windows loading, it will cause problem with hardware like your sound devices. To avoid these problems, do not attach or remove anything (like a mouse or printer) when PC is booting. Attach these devices only after Windows has finished loading and you can see the desktop. Rebooting your PC makes Windows reload the hardware configuration once again and fixes this problem.
  2. Reinstall sound drivers. If the corrupt sound drivers are the problem, then you will have to first remove the corrupt sound drivers and then reinstall them again. You can find the sound drivers on your computer manufacturer’s website or on the driver disk that came along with your PC.
  3. Isolate and remove offending devices. Some older devices may have gone bad and could be causing problems with other hardware in your PC. To fix this, you will have to remove one device at a time and observe whether it makes any difference.

These are some of the quick fixes of the “No Audio Output Device is installed” problem in Windows 10. If these do not work, then you should first check your computer’s hardware by using alternative operating systems like Linux. If sound works fine in Linux, then the problem is with Windows and you can fix it easily by reinstalling Windows again. However, if sound does not work in Linux or even after reinstalling Windows, then you could have an hardware issue.