How To Fix Controller Not Working on PC Error

For avid gamers and casual players alike, a controller that fails to work on a PC can interrupt gameplay and cause significant frustration. Understanding the root causes and applying the correct fixes are essential for getting back into the game.

In this article, we discuss the common issues leading to controller malfunctions on PCs running Windows 10 or Windows 11, and offer step-by-step solutions to resolve these problems.

Controller Not Working on PC

What Does It Mean When a Controller Is Not Working on PC?

When your controller is not working on your PC, it could be failing to connect, not recognized by the system, or not responding within your games. This could manifest as a complete lack of functionality or sporadic, unresponsive behavior during use.

Causes of Controller Malfunctions on PC in Windows 10/11

Several factors could be responsible for your controller not working correctly on a Windows 10 or 11 system:

  1. Driver Issues: Outdated or corrupted device drivers can prevent Windows from detecting or properly communicating with the controller.
  2. USB Port Malfunctions: A faulty USB port can disrupt the connection between the controller and the PC.
  3. Compatibility Problems: Some controllers may not be fully compatible with Windows 10/11, or specific games may not support certain controller models.
  4. Software Conflicts: Other software, especially those that manage peripheral devices, can interfere with controller functionality.
  5. Hardware Faults: The controller itself might be damaged, with issues such as broken buttons, stick drift, or internal wiring problems.

Methods to Fix a Non-Working Controller on Windows 10/11

Here’s how you can address a controller that’s not working on your PC:

  1. Check the Hardware:

    • Ensure the controller is properly connected to the USB port. Try different ports to rule out a port issue.
    • Inspect the controller for any physical damage. If wireless, check that the batteries are charged or replace them if necessary.
  2. Update Controller Drivers:

    • Open Device Manager, locate the controller, right-click on it, and select “Update driver.”
    • Alternatively, visit the controller manufacturer’s website to download the latest drivers.
  3. Reinstall Controller Drivers:

    • In Device Manager, right-click on the controller and choose “Uninstall device.” Disconnect the controller, restart your PC, and reconnect the controller to allow Windows to reinstall the drivers.
  4. Run the Hardware Troubleshooter:

    • Use Windows’ built-in troubleshooter for hardware issues. Access it by going to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot.
  5. Check for Windows Updates:

    • Keep your system up-to-date as updates can resolve known bugs and compatibility issues. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.
  6. Check Game Compatibility:

    • Verify that the games you are trying to play support the controller. Consult the game’s documentation or support forums for compatibility information.
  7. Adjust Game Controller Settings:

    • Within the game settings or a dedicated controller application (such as Steam’s Big Picture mode), ensure that the controller is recognized and properly configured.
  8. Reset Controller Configuration:

    • For controllers like the Xbox controller, you can reset them by pressing a small button usually found at the back of the controller near the L2 trigger.
  9. Consult Manufacturer Support:

    • If the issue persists, the controller may be defective. Reach out to the manufacturer for support or consider a replacement.

Advanced Solutions for Controller Issues on Windows 10/11

If you’ve worked through the basic troubleshooting steps and your controller still isn’t responding, it’s time to delve into more advanced methods. Here are additional strategies that could help restore your controller’s functionality on a Windows 10/11 PC.

  1. Examine USB Hub Power Settings:

    • Navigate to Device Manager, expand ‘Universal Serial Bus controllers’, and check the properties of USB Root Hub devices. Under ‘Power Management’, ensure the option to ‘Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power’ is unchecked to prevent Windows from disabling the controller to save power.
  2. Disable USB Selective Suspend:

    • In the Power Options menu, go to ‘Change plan settings’ for your current power plan, click ‘Change advanced power settings’, and disable ‘USB selective suspend setting’ for both on battery and plugged in modes.
  3. Check for System File Corruption:

    • System file issues can affect peripheral functionality. Run the System File Checker tool by opening Command Prompt as an administrator and typing sfc /scannow.
  1. Firmware Updates for Controllers:

    • Some controllers, especially modern ones like the Xbox or PlayStation controllers, have firmware that may require updating. Use the respective console’s support software on a PC to check for and apply firmware updates.
  1. Set Compatibility Mode for Games:

    • If a specific game is not recognizing the controller, try running the game in compatibility mode for an earlier version of Windows. Right-click the game executable, go to ‘Properties’, and under the ‘Compatibility’ tab, select an older version of Windows.
  1. Use Third-Party Controller Management Tools:

    • Tools like DS4Windows for PlayStation controllers or x360ce for emulating an Xbox 360 controller can help manage and troubleshoot connection issues.
  1. Modify Registry Settings:

    • Advanced users can look into the Windows Registry to adjust specific settings for controllers. This should only be done with caution and by those experienced with the Windows Registry, as incorrect changes can severely affect system stability.
  1. Interference Check:

    • For wireless controllers, ensure there’s no interference from other devices. Keep the controller close to the receiver and remove potential sources of interference like metal objects and other wireless devices.
  2. Online Forums and Communities:

    • Engage with gaming communities and forums. Others may have experienced similar issues and could have solutions not widely known or addressed in official support channels.


Controller issues on PCs with Windows 10/11 can stem from a variety of causes, but with the right approach, they are often fixable. By systematically checking the hardware, updating drivers, running troubleshooters, and ensuring game compatibility, you can usually get your controller back in action.

Remember, regular maintenance of both your controller and your PC is vital to preventing these issues and ensuring a seamless gaming experience.

FAQ: Fixing Controller Issues on Windows 10/11 PCs

Q1. Why won’t my PC recognize my USB controller?

Answer: Your PC may not recognize your USB controller for several reasons: the USB port could be malfunctioning, the controller drivers might be outdated or corrupted, there could be a conflict with other devices, or the controller itself may be defective.

Q2. How can I update my controller’s drivers on Windows 10/11?

Answer: To update your controller’s drivers, go to the Device Manager, find your controller under “Human Interface Devices” or “Sound, video, and game controllers”, right-click it, and choose “Update driver”. Alternatively, you can visit the manufacturer’s website to download the latest drivers.

Q3. Can I use a wireless controller on my Windows 10/11 PC?

Answer: Yes, you can use wireless controllers on your Windows 10/11 PC. Most will connect via Bluetooth or through a dedicated wireless dongle. Ensure your PC has the correct hardware for the connection type and that the controller is compatible with Windows 10/11.

Q4. What should I do if my controller is working, but the buttons are not responding correctly?

Answer: If the buttons on your controller are not responding correctly, it could be due to incorrect mapping. You can remap the buttons using the Windows Game Controller Settings, or use third-party software like JoyToKey or DS4Windows if it’s a PlayStation controller.

Q5. My controller disconnects randomly while I’m playing. How can I fix it?

Answer: Random disconnections can be due to power settings, like the USB Selective Suspend feature. To fix it, go to the Power Options in Control Panel, change the settings for USB selective suspend to “Disabled”, and make sure the controller is fully charged if it’s wireless.

Q6. Is there a way to reset my controller settings to default on Windows?

Answer: Yes, you can reset your controller settings to default by uninstalling the device from the Device Manager and restarting your PC. Windows should automatically reinstall the default drivers.

Q7. Will third-party controllers work on Windows 10/11, or do I need an official Microsoft controller?

Answer: Many third-party controllers work with Windows 10/11. However, compatibility varies, and some may require additional software for full functionality. It’s best to check the manufacturer’s information for Windows compatibility.

Q8. What is the best way to test if my controller is working properly on Windows 10/11?

Answer: Windows has a built-in tool to test controllers. Open “Set up USB game controllers” from the Start Menu, select your controller, and click on “Properties” to test buttons, sticks, and triggers.

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