Windows XP usbaudio.sys on Window Vista

Saturday, September 13th, 2008
Last Updated:
Sunday, April 05th, 2009

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I recently decided to update a laptop I have, to Windows Vista. It is a bit of an older laptop, but fully capable of handling Vista. With it being an older laptop, I have an issue with the internal sound card where it just flat out doesn't work any more... (rare, but not unheard of) I read somewhere that on the particular model I have, plugging in an external set of speakers, can 'fry' the sound card if there is any static on the stereo jack... I don't know how 'true' that is, but whatever, the sound doesn't work.

This brings me to the whole reason I am writing this article. Since my sound doesn't work, I scrounged up an old MiniLink Audio USB to Stereo converter I had lying around from when I picked up a Sony MD player.

Now, Windows XP didn't have any issues with the driver for the MiniLink but for whatever reason, Vista does. I did some research on the issue and ran into this article which really helped solve a lot of my problems. However, It didn't directly help solve the problem, which is why I am writing my own article.

So, you want to fix the USB Audio problem on your Vista machine? Believe it or not, the Windows XP version will work perfectly fine on Vista and you will probably have less problems!

Basically, we have to grab the permissions of the usbaudio.sys files for both the main usbaudio.sys and within the file repository (Vista file protection) and change the ownership to ourselves. Then just replace both files. I have two different 'options', the latter is the actual one I went with, but the first option is what 'should' work though I haven't exactly tested it. (other people mention that it works)

You will obviously need access to a Windows XP system so you can grab the usbaudio.sys file, which actually turned out to be a bit interesting for me. The computer I attempted to pull the file from, doesn't use any sort of USB Audio device, therefore it didn't have the file loaded to just pull from the system directory. The file itself was actually in the file. So, if you can't find the file on your computer, grab XP SP3 and extract the file somewhere, then search for the file, open it up and grab the usbaudio.sys file out of it. (The easiest way to extract SP3 and the files, is to grab an open source archiving program called 7-zip.)

Keep in mind that if you perform a windows update which replaces the usbaudio.sys file and the new file is causing problems, you will have to replace the new file with the XP file again.

Update: I wrote this back in September of 2008, right after switching the files around, mainly so I would remember how to do it again in the future. It is now March (10th to be exact) of 2009 and I am still running on the XP drivers on my vista laptop with updates being applied from Sept. till now and I have not had a single problem with the usbaudio.sys issue.

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I want to thank you for taking the time to write and update this article. After installing Windows 7, my USB headset (Netcom GN9330 USB) no longer worked. The manufacturer confirmed that this headset was not firmware upgradable and was no longer compatible with Windows 7. Replacing USBAUDIO.sys with the XP version worked great. The only problem I ran into following your steps was that the "takeown" command didn't work, reporting that the logged-on user didn't have enough privileges. So I followed the steps described here and they worked.

Thanks again.

Thx for the update Keith! Sorry my methods for taking ownership didn't work for you... It might be some differences between the permissions of Vista & 7...

Fortunately for me, I've moved on to a better computer that actually has sound so I don't need the USB audio anymore. Cool that you made it work in Windows 7 though :)