How to Restore a Microsoft Bluetooth Stack

By Isobel Phillips

Some Bluetooth devices only recognize Microsoft drivers.
i cellphone image by Andrey Kiselev from

Many Bluetooth devices install third-party device drivers which disable the Microsoft generic Bluetooth software or "stack" in older versions of Windows, and prevent it from loading. Other devices, notably Blackberry cell phones, will only connect to a PC that is running Microsoft's Bluetooth drivers. Running more than one set of Bluetooth drivers can cause stability problems and is not advisable. In order to allow the Microsoft drivers to load, you must uninstall any third-party Bluetooth drivers.

Step 1

Uninstall the third-party drivers through Control Panel. Click on "Start" and "Control Panel," then click on "Add/Remove Programs" in Windows XP or "Uninstall a program" in Vista. Locate the third-party drivers and uninstall them.

Step 2

Click on "Start" and "Run," then type "%windir%\inf" in the "Open" box and click "OK." Look for the file "bth.inf.old" or "bth.bak." If neither file is present, go to Step 3. Right-click on the file and select "Rename." Rename it to "bth.inf."

Step 3

Restart the computer and connect your Bluetooth adapter. Windows will detect the new hardware and the Microsoft Bluetooth stack will load automatically and install the correct drivers. If the original Microsoft stack is damaged and fails to recognize your Bluetooth device, you can reinstall Windows Bluetooth drivers from third-party sites or install the latest updates for your version of Windows from Microsoft. Microsoft doesn't provide a separate download of the Bluetooth drivers.

Step 4

Download the free Bluetooth Driver Installer from Restart your computer and when Windows prompts for the Bluetooth driver, click "Cancel." Double-click on "BluetoothDriverInstaller.exe." Click "OK," check the box to accept the terms and conditions and click "Next." When the software has found the Bluetooth adapter, click "Next" to install the driver. Click "Next" to test the Bluetooth adapter and then click "Exit" to complete the installation.

Step 5

Download Driver Whiz from the company's website (see References). Driver Whiz is a freeware program that will scan your system for any corrupt or missing Windows Bluetooth Drivers and update them automatically to the latest compatible version. Click on the EXE program file to start the download and select "Run" in Internet Explorer or "Save As" in Firefox. Click "Run" and follow the installation instructions on-screen. Driver Whiz will create a System Restore Point before installing new drivers.

Step 6

Download the latest updates for your version of Windows from Microsoft. For Windows XP, go to the Windows Update Center on the Microsoft website. In later versions of Windows, click "Start," click "All Programs" and then click "Windows Update." If Windows detects any important updates, install them by clicking on the link "Install Updates." Restart your computer when prompted.