Every time one plugs in the same usb wireless adapter in a new usb port, Windows creates new network device with auto-generated sequence number which looks like this
Wireless-N USB Network Adapter #2, Wireless-N USB Network Adapter #3, ...
The name of a device is being displayed as part of network's information in Control Panel|Network Connections. network's name and network's device name

How can I get rid of this sequence number?

I found out device name which is displayed in network's information is kept in the FriendlyName REG_SZ value under
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Enum\USB\VID_[device specific string]\[usb port specific string] FriendlyName of network device However when I try to modify this value I get error

Cannot edit FriendlyName: Error writing the value's new contents.

I tried to delete extra keys under
but got Cannot delete KEY NAME: Error while deleting key. error. Trying to solve this problem I followed this answer but trying to change owner with Replace owner on subcontainers and objects option checked I got this error - Registry Editor could not set owner on the currently selected, or some of its subkeys. To find out which subkey is the source of problem I tried changing owner of each subkey. After successfully changing owner of Properites subkey I saw it has subkeys which were previously hidden. Hidden subkeys of Properties key

Now trying to change owner of these subkeys looks like this:

Permisions... Windows Security warning Windows Security error

Any idea how to delete these keys?

  • I have edited my answer in light of the addition to your question. Hopefully it helps. – Windos Aug 15 '11 at 9:53

Try this. It worked for me.

  1. Open regedit, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Network\
  2. search for Descriptions in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Network\{big long hex number}\Descriptions. There will be a few hex numbers after \Network\ but it'll be the one with the "Descriptions" branch.
  3. Under this branch you'll see all the numbering strings with your network card as key. Just delete the ones you want to reset. In my case, I will delete "Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller"
  4. In Device Manager, delete the device and select "Scan for Hardware Changes" to reinstall the driver.
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USB devices are identified either by their serial number, or by the USB port. If a device doesn't provide its serial number, the OS must use the port for identification, otherwise there would be trouble if two identical adapters were plugged in.

If your device has no S/N, it will be treated as different devices when plugged to different ports, and there isn't anything you can do to change this behavior.

See also: Why does Windows not recognize my USB device as the same device if I plug it into a different port? on The Old New Thing.

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  • Even though the device is treated as different devices when plugged to different ports there should be a way to change the name (FriendlyName which I write about in my update) of a device, right? – Piotr Dobrogost Aug 15 '11 at 9:50
  • @Piotr: As show in Windos's post, or through Registry Editor... just remember that you need to run regedit elevated to gain write access. – user1686 Aug 15 '11 at 10:10
  • I tried to change permission on the key to be deleted following this answer but I get this error Registry Editor could not set owner on the key currently selected, or some of its subkeys. My account has administrator's privileges. – Piotr Dobrogost Aug 15 '11 at 10:42
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    @Piotr, even thought your account has admin privileges you still need to run an elevated instance of regedit. To do this open your start menu and type regedit into the search bar, right click regedit when it shows up and choose "run as administrator." – Windos Aug 15 '11 at 10:59
  • @Windos In the Run window, below input field there's information This task will be created with administrative privileges so I guess this means every application run from this window will be elevated. Nevertheless I run regedit from Windows Explorer choosing Run as administrator from the context menu. Still I get the same error when trying to delete keys. I'm on Vista Home Premium 64bit. – Piotr Dobrogost Aug 15 '11 at 12:04
  1. Open the Network and Sharing Center.
  2. Click Manage network connections.
  3. Right click the connection and choose Rename.
  4. Enter your desired name and hit Enter

Win7 Network Connection Rename

n.b. Yes, the screenshot is for Windows 7 but the instructions are for Windows Vista. The name cannot contain: \ / : * ? < > |

Edit: Before trying this export the parent key so you can restore it if need be.

Try deleting from the registry the devices (keys) with the other names (no number, #1 & #2) the try renaming your current one. The error you mention in your question may be because it already "knows" of a device called that.

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  • Normally ([anti]virus meddling excluded), registry key writes can only fail due to permission errors, not because of network device name conflicts. The Registry is a dumb hierarchical database, nothing more. – user1686 Aug 15 '11 at 10:13
  • @grawity I guess it's true as I get the same error for all keys I try to delete under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Enum\USB\VID_13B1&PID_0029 – Piotr Dobrogost Aug 15 '11 at 10:46

You need to take the ownership before changing the permission.

  1. Right Click the folder > Permission > Advance > Owner > Change
  2. add your current user account to be the owner
  3. back to the permission screen to add your current user account to the user list
  4. select full control
  5. now you should be able to change friendly name
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No need to go into the Registry. You may have the same device installed twice, but in the Device Manager, it is only shown as one with #2(#3,#4).

First, you need to show hidden devices by going to View > Show hidden devices in the Device Manager window.

Second, go to this site and follow it's instructions to remove old device drivers and make sure hidden devices are shown (because if you just click on "View" in Device Manager and "Show hidden devices", it will not work).

Then in Device Manager click on device with "#2" and click uninstall (do not tick the checkbox with delete driver, just leave it empty). When un-installation is complete, scan for hardware changes and install your device again.

This is good tool for removing old drivers for devices you have in past like cameras, USB sticks, keyboards, mices and so. Hope this helps you.

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Just to let you know the variable trick for hidden devices didn't work for me. Manually deleting and re-adding a network adapter adds the #2, #3, etc without leaving hidden devices behind.

However the registry trick worked on my laptop (Windows 8.1) for both LAN and Wireless adapters by deleting their lines in the registry, then uninstall/scan for new hardware on the device manager. Many thanks!

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