Windows XP Gives "Data Invalid" Error

Date Initially Written: 5 October 2002.

Problem: After installing a new network card Windows XP detected the card but came up with a "Data invalid" error and wouldn't install the drivers.

Hardware: PCI network card.

Software: Windows XP.

Resolution Steps: Windows XP was detecting the NIC, even going so far as to identifying the card, but then refused to install any drivers and just said "Data invalid". Looking in Device Manager showed the card but with a yellow exclamation mark.

The NIC came with very little documentation, just a readme file that said the card would be auto-detected by Windows. The included software appeared to be for installing the card under other OS's.

Some research on the web showed that many other people have experienced this problem. The problem appears to be due to permissions in the registry and can occur with a variety of drivers (sound cards, SCSI devices, network cards, etc).

The solution is to run Regedit (go to Start, Run... and type "regedit" without the quotes). Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\ENUM\PCI and you will see a number of keys of the form VEN_xxxx, where xxxx are strings like 1102&DEV_0004&SUBSYS_00011103&REV_04. Under each of these folders will be another folder with a long numerical name. Open each folder and look for the DeviceDesc which matches the hardware you are trying to install. Right-click on the VEN_xxxx for that device and select Permissions and then tick Allow for Full Control. Close Regedit and then reboot. You should now be able to install the device.

Windows 2000 Notes: This same error can also occur under Windows 2000. The resolution steps are the same, except you should run Regedt32 and you will find the "Permissions" under the "Security" menu.

Recommended Reading: Upgrading and Repairing PCs: The best PC hardware resource anywhere!