How do I fix my stupid mouse drivers?
June 9, 2021 10:08 AM   Subscribe

So I installed Virtualbox on my Windows 10 machine and it immediately broke all mouse support in Windows. Obviously this is a big problem. How do I fix it?

So I consider myself pretty computer savvy but this one really has me stumped, and of course it's virtually impossible to Google. I'd really rather not have to completely reinstall Windows on this box, especially since I've only had it for a month.

I'll try to be brief: I have a new ASUS ROG Zephyrus gaming laptop. AMD Ryzen R9 CPU, Nvidia graphics. It has a ton of drivers and stuff for various gaming things installed, including but not limited to: AMD Radeon drivers, Geforce game drivers, ASUS Armory Crate (a dumb OEM GPU/system performance management thing) Corsair iCue (for my keyboard), and Logitech G Hub (for my mouse). I mention these last two because they might be relevant. I mostly use the laptop plugged into a USB hub and external monitor.

The other day I decided to install Virtualbox to play with some VMs. I installed via Chocolatey, and at some point while installing either Virtualbox or Virtualbox Guest Additions (I suspect the latter) my mouse pointer completely stopped responding.

The kind of bizarre part is that it's not like the system wasn't recognizing my mouse via USB. Logitech G Hub still sees my mouse, and I'm still able to adjust settings on it -- I just can't use it! Every other external mouse I've tried has the same result: it gives the appearance of working, but I can't click or move the pointer. The one Bluetooth mouse I have doesn't work either. Keyboards and everything else work fine.

Literally the only pointing device available to me on this computer is the built-in trackpad, for some reason. Nothing else works. If I boot Windows into recovery mode an external mouse works there -- but in Safe mode it doesn't.

Why don't I just use System Restore, you ask? Well, I'm a Dropbox user, and I learned too late that Dropbox breaks System Restore, so that's off the table. Thanks a lot, Dropbox!

When I go into Device Manager, under "Mice and other pointing devices" I see several "HID-Compliant Mouse" devices that all have the yellow "driver trouble" icon overlay. I'm not sure but it seems to add a new one every time I plug a mouse in.

Things I've tried, to no avail:
  • Uninstalling Virtualbox and guest additions (first thing I tried)
  • Trying to update the drivers from Device Manager
  • Uninstalling all the broken mouse devices in Device Manager and rebooting
  • sfc /scannow
  • Completely reinstalling the AMD Catalyst driver suite
  • Uninstalling Dropbox and trying System Restore again
  • Manually deleting the VBox* drivers that were still hanging around in \windows\system32\drivers
  • Purging every mention of "virtualbox" or "vbox" from my Registry like it was fucking Trotsky
  • Uninstalling Corsair iCue and Logitech G Hub in the hope that the uninstaller might repair the problem
  • yelling at it a lot
It seems that Virtualbox has completely fuckered something fundamental to my input system, but I'm at the limit of my abilities here. Is there anything I should try before I just give up and repave this thing?
posted by neckro23 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and in the event log I could see a few entries like this on reboot:
The driver \Driver\VBoxMouse failed to load for the device HID\virtualdevice&10&Col04\2&1f1ca0f9&0&0003.
These seem to have gone away when I purged the Registry and deleted the drivers but the issue persists, of course.
posted by neckro23 at 10:10 AM on June 9

Ummm - might be a silly idea, but one thing I didn't see in your list of attempted fixes is... Unplugging from one USB port and switching to another - for both the mouse - and the hub.

Sometimes that will fix things.
posted by rozcakj at 11:03 AM on June 9

Response by poster: Believe me, I stopped using the hub about a dozen attempts ago. There are only 2 USB-A ports on this thing, and I've definitely tried them both.

Also, as I mentioned, Bluetooth mice are affected by this too.
posted by neckro23 at 11:07 AM on June 9

You might also try asking this question on the virtualbox forums.
Does it make any difference if you don't use the external monitor? When you move the mouse, does the cursor stay where it previously was (say, after using the trackpad) or does it disappear?
posted by trig at 11:20 AM on June 9

Response by poster: All my testing since the initial incident has been without the external monitor since it's totally unusable that way without a mouse.

I can make the mouse cursor appear by using the trackpad, but moving the mouse does absolutely nothing at all. Neither does clicking. I can still adjust the DPI but that's a built-in function of the mouse.

(while typing this response my other PC bluescreened because I dared unplug a mouse. guess what driver caused it? yup, VBoxMouse.sys! I am so done with anything Oracle by this point.)
posted by neckro23 at 11:44 AM on June 9

Ouch - well, before a full re-install, try a Windows system repair first.

What edition of Windows are you using? (Sigh - as I am lucky to have "Professional" or "Enterprise" most of the time, I just end-up using Hyper-V for my virtualization - yes, there are things supposedly that VirtualBox does better for "passthrough", but...)
posted by rozcakj at 11:47 AM on June 9

Response by poster: This is Win10 Home. As I mentioned above, System Restore is a no-go because Dropbox apparently corrupts your restore points. Otherwise I wouldn't be asking this question.

Actually the entire reason I was installing this in the first place was because I couldn't use Hyper-V due to being on Home edition.
posted by neckro23 at 11:51 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]

I meant to say: "System Recovery/Reset" instead of Repair - which is different than a "Restore"
posted by rozcakj at 12:32 PM on June 9

Response by poster: Needing to reset Windows (and set up all my stuff again) is what I'm trying to avoid here. It's the nuclear option.

Edit: The other reason I don't want to do this is it doesn't actually tell me what the root cause is, and this could very well happen again.
posted by neckro23 at 12:43 PM on June 9

Best answer: I'm guessing that VirtualBox Guest Additions is the culprit. That's support for the OS running inside VirtualBox. It should not be on your host system. And it tends to mess with your (guest's) input devices so that tracks as well.

You say you tried uninstalling VB but did you remove the guest additions as well? If not, ensure they're gone. It's possible that they left files somewhere that aren't part of an installer (I don't remember how the guest additions install but I remember it was really painless on my Windows guests so it's probably that they're doing something funny with respect to Windows packaging.)
posted by suetanvil at 7:55 PM on June 9

This is a shot in the dark and you're probably looking at a fresh install, but I have had a similar (but not identical) problem under similar (but not identical) circumstances.

At work, I moved a bunch of virtual machines from one hypervisor (Xen) to another (KVM). When I moved VMs with the Xen guest tools installed, they fail to detect a bunch of the KVM virtual hardware, because the Xen tools install a bunch of filter drivers. A filter driver takes over every device of a given type and blocks normal handling for them. (This is normally okay for a VM, since the only hardware present will be the virtual stuff expected by the filter driver. As suetanvil says, VM guest support files should never be installed on a physical machine, partly for this reason.)

The solution for my Xen to KVM problem was to search the registry and remove any UpperFilters and LowerFilters entries that reference xenpci.sys. You've already removed anything mentioning vbox, but I wonder whether there are other filter drivers present with unassuming names? I can think of a couple of ways you can experiment with this:
  • Install the Virtualbox Guest Additions on a clean VM, first running WhatChanged or something like that, so you can see what changes the installer makes. Go through the list of changes while comparing to the registry on your laptop to see if anything it added is still hanging around. Also look for any files it installed that you didn't realize were vbox-related and make sure they aren't present or referenced in your laptop registry.
  • Try this method I found online to clean up UpperFilters and LowerFilters entries - I haven't tried it myself but it looks reasonable.
  • If all else fails, just go in and search for UpperFilters and LowerFilters and delete anything that looks virtualbox-related. This is quick and simple but relies on your intuition and runs a fairly high risk of wrecking your Windows install completely. On the upside, once you wreck your Windows install, you can reinstall with a clean conscience.   If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed repairing anyway. — Anonymous

posted by pocams at 8:17 PM on June 9

Response by poster: I'm guessing that VirtualBox Guest Additions is the culprit. That's support for the OS running inside VirtualBox. It should not be on your host system.

D'oh! I think I had it confused for the Virtualbox Extension Pack, which apparently isn't available on Choco for licensing reasons.

You say you tried uninstalling VB but did you remove the guest additions as well? If not, ensure they're gone. It's possible that they left files somewhere that aren't part of an installer

It left the drivers around which I had to seek-and-destroy in system32/drivers and the Registry, as I mentioned. Still nothing.

I think it's finally time to nuke and pave this thing...
posted by neckro23 at 9:37 AM on June 10

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