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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Removing Unremovable Bluetooth Device: FAIL!

This is a “notes” post, no nice graphics and probably typos. If it helps you—or you sympathize—then it was worth posting.

In June of 2013 I bought an Acer Aspire R7-571. It looked great, and worked pretty well except for two things: the spacebar didn’t always respond, and the wireless seemed slow and flaky.

I shipped it in for repair on the spacebar, which was successful. For some reason, I didn’t ask about the WiFi. About six months later, I gave it to my wife and bought a Lenovo IdeaPad U530 Touch. Which also had WiFi problems. Those got straightened out, eventually, by using Intel drivers. But it took about a year.

Recently, I had to do a bare metal restore of the R7. After the restore, the WiFi problem was strongly evident: flaky performance and seemingly throttled speeds at 5GHz. After some research, I decided to replace the adaptor with a dual band Intel 7260 + Bluetooth. The replacement took about twenty minutes, and the WiFi came right up.

But no Bluetooth. Apparently (more research), the R7’s hardware doesn’t work equally with all wireless cards, which I frankly find bizarre and absurd. But, there was nothing for it except to put the old card back in and plan on selling the machine when I could (with full disclosure to prospective buyers, of course). I really should have removed the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse before starting any of this….

After the card was reinstalled, I could see the keyboard/mouse listed in Bluetooth, but the hardware wouldn’t respond. I tried deleting them. No good. I tried repairing. The “new” devices wouldn’t show. I tried deleting three different ways (see below). No good. What follows is the rest of the story (sorry, Paul Harvey).

Here are the symptoms. Some people refer to these as “ghosted” devices.

Searched file system for “sculpt”, took about 30 minutes. nothing found.

Searched registry, nothing found.

Being held in memory? Even after removing from registry and uninstalling driver?

In the following steps, unless indicated, neither mouse nor keyboard were on.

  1. Closed all bluetooth-related apps.
  2. Deleted registry entries.
  3. Uninstalled Broadcom bluetooth software. (Nothing to do if using native drivers?)
  4. Restart as directed.
  5. Checked for “sculpt” in registry and files.
  6. Items appeared in registry. Deleted keys and uninstalled Bluetooth USB module driver from Device Manager.
  7. Reboot.
  8. Research “sculpt”. Nothing in registry or file system.
  9. Found “missing” bluetooth in Devce Manager, tried updating driver, nothing.
  10. Ran Windows Update to see if standard drivers would appear. No updates.
  11. Installed Bluetooth drivers. Devices showed up in Device Manager again! How???
  12. OK, uninstall BT software and drivers again, and this time delete the WIDCOMM folder in Program Files.
  13. Search for WIDCOMM in registry and files. Delete all occurrences (where appropriate). Clear Recycle Bin.
  14. Restart.
  15. Set the devmgr_show_nonpresent_device=1 environment variable. Nothing new in Device Manager.
  16. Reinstall Bluetooth software.
  17. And, there they are again! Seems impossible. But, fine, restart.
  18. Tried an earlier BT driver version.
  19. Enabled Administrator user and logged in as that user. Same results.

Tried lots of other suggestions from various sites. None worked. I can’t believe this, but I’m going to have to do a clean reset/reinstallation.

What I can’t fathom is where the device information is being stored. The display names have to come from somewhere, and if they aren’t in the registry or file system, where else can they be? Nowhere is the right answer, but apparently the incorrect one.

You win, Acer. You’ve succeeded in guaranteeing I won’t buy another item from you. I said this once before, and then you lulled me with your siren song. But no more. The wax is firmly in my ears.

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