Why do I have to reinstall drivers every time I use my HTC Vive?

A strange error has crept up for some HTC Vive users that involves having to uninstall VR drivers each time they give SteamVR a fresh boot. If not, they get a message saying their HMD is detected but the monitor is not found. Needless to say, this is incredibly annoying and time-consuming. Let's go through some steps to hopefully end this error once and for all.

Ensure Direct Mode is enabled in SteamVR

Using Direct Mode with Vive means that your PC doesn't just see your HMD as another monitor. Instead, it recognizes it as an actual Vive. Having Direct Mode disabled might be causing your problem, so let's take a look at how to ensure it's enabled.

  1. Launch Steam from your Start menu, desktop, or taskbar.
  2. Click the VR button to start SteamVR.

    Launch Steam. Click the VR button.

  3. Click the dropdown arrow next to SteamVR.
  4. Click Settings.

    Cick the dropdown arrow. Click Settings.

  5. Click Developer.
  6. Ensure that Direct Mode is enabled.

    Click Developer. Ensure that Direct Mode is enabled.

As always, restart your PC after making changes to any settings.

Opt out of the SteamVR beta

The nature of beta software means that it can be unstable, and in this case might be causing or contributing to the problem. Here's how to opt out of the SteamVR beta.

  1. Launch Steam from your Start menu, desktop, or taskbar.
  2. Right-click Library.
  3. Click Tools.

    Right-click Library. Click Tools.

  4. Right-click SteamVR.
  5. Click Properties.

    Right-click SteamVR. Click Properties.

  6. Click the Betas tab.
  7. Click the dropdown arrow beneath Select the beta you would like to opt into.

    Click the Betas tab. Click the dropdown arrow.

  8. Click NONE.
  9. Click Close.

    Click NONE. Click Close.

Restart your PC and launch Steam to see if you receive the same error.

Check your GPU drivers

The next step is to ensure that your GPU drivers are up to date. The best way to do this is to visit either AMD or NVIDIA's website and download the latest version.

Give your PC a restart and see what happens with SteamVR when you launch it for the first time. If you still see the problem, carry on to the next step.

Reinstall your SteamVR USB devices

Although this specific error we're attempting to fix requires you to keep reinstalling your VR drivers, there is a process that, if not followed, might keep tricking Steam into thinking you need to do it over and over again. Here's the proper method according to Steam.

  1. Unplug all cables from your PC. This includes any cables from the Link Box and any cables from controllers that are charging.
  2. Launch Steam from your Start menu, desktop, or taskbar.
  3. Click the VR button to start SteamVR.

    Launch Steam. Click the VR button.

  4. Click the dropdown arrow next to SteamVR.
  5. Click Settings.

    Click the dropdown arrow. Click Settings.

  6. Click Developer.
  7. Click Remove all SteamVR USB Devices. You might have to scroll down a bit to find it.

    Click Developer. Click Remove all SteamVR USB Devices.

  8. Click Yes.
  9. Click Continue.
  10. Restart your PC.

    Click Yes. Click Continue.

Once your PC has booted back up, ensure that Steam isn't running. Plug the Link Box and your Vive's cables back into the PC, but use a different USB port for your HMD.

Once everything is plugged in, go ahead and launch Steam and SteamVR. Drivers will now be reinstalled, and you hopefully won't see the annoying error again.

Give SteamVR a fresh install

If the driver problem persists after performing the steps above, it might be time to give SteamVR a fresh install. Here's how to uninstall it.

  1. Launch Steam from your Start menu, desktop, or taskbar.
  2. Right-click Library.

    Launch Steam. Right-click Library.

  3. Click Tools.
  4. Right-click SteamVR. You might have to scroll down a bit to find it.

    Click Tools. Right-click SteamVR.

  5. Click Uninstall.
  6. Click Delete. Note that this will remove your VR games from your PC as well.

    Click Uninstall. Click Delete.

SteamVR will now be uninstalled from your PC. Be sure to restart your PC before reinstalling.

Once you've restarted your PC, simply follow the above steps again, but this time click Install Game rather than Uninstall.

Send Steam a system report

If you've exhausted your options when it comes to trying to fix this annoying error, it's time to contact Steam support.

Contact Steam support