Users with Windows XP Home or Professional edition system which is running the Symantec security products such as Norton Internet Security 2008, Norton SystemWorks 2008, Norton 360 or Norton AntiVirus 2008 with SymProtect feature turned on or enabled may encounter error symtom of empty Device Manager with no devices listed, and blank or network connections been shown in Network Connections folder after installing Windows XP SP3.

The error is caused by Symantec Norton programs’ SymProtect feature that prevents changes and deletion to the system registry during the installation of Windows XP SP3 where the Microsoft tool fixccs.exe is adding temporary intermediate registry subkeys to the Windows XP Registry during the update, which should be removed after completion of update. As a result, large number of bogus and orphaned registry keys starting with special characters corrupts the system, causing certain applications, such as Device Manager and Network Connections, may be unable to enumerate the device or the connection instances. These applications will report a missing or blank status even though devices and connections still function as expected.

Symantec has previously released SymRegFix.exe that is fixing problem of Windows Device Manager is empty, missing Wireless network adaptors or other hardware devices and unable to connect using a wireless adapter affecting Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista SP1 with Symantec Norton N360 and other Norton 2008 series security products.

Now Microsoft is releasing its own update hotfix KB953979 for Windows XP SP3. The update package contains an updated Fixccs.exe version 5.1.2600.5614, which user can use and apply to fix the related problems. The Update for Windows XP (KB953979) can be downloaded from Microsoft Download Center.

To apply the hotfix, user is required to boot up the computer into Safe Mode. Here’s how to install the hotfix.

  1. Download the hotfix package (WindowsXP-KB953979-x86-ENU.exe).
  2. Restart the computer in Safe Mode by pressing F8 and select “Safe Mode” in the menu list before Windows XP starts.
  3. Double-click the hotfix package to extract the Fixccs.exe file.
  4. Select a location to which you want to save the file.
  5. Click OK when the file is extracted.
  6. Locate and double-click the Fixccs.exe file. A Command Prompt window opens, and the necessary tasks are performed. The Command Prompt window closes automatically after all tasks are completed.
  7. When the necessary tasks are completed, restart the computer in normal mode.

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