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Find Drivers for Unknown Devices in the Device Manager

The Windows Device Manager, as the name indicates, is where you manage hardware devices and drivers for Windows-based computers. If Windows cannot identify an installed piece of hardware or cannot locate a driver for it, the device will be listed as an Unknown Device. Unknown devices are listed under Other Devices in the Device Manager, and marked with an icon that has an exclamation mark on a yellow circle.

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Opening the windows Device Manager:

The Windows Device Manager can be accessed in several different ways.

Windows 7:

  • Click Start -> Control Panel ->  System -> Device Manager.
  • Press Windows Key + R, type devmgmt.msc into the Run dialog, and press Enter.
  • Click Start and type device manager. Select Device Manager from the search results.

 Windows 8-8.1:

  • From the Windows Start Screen type device manager
  • Right-click in the bottom-left corner of the screen or press Windows Key + X and select Device Manager.
  • From the Start  screen (Metro UI) swipe up or click the circled down arrow icon to bring up the Apps screen. Swipe or scroll right until you see the Windows System category. Click on the Control Panel to open it. Open System, and then click on the Device Manager link in the left-hand column.
  • Press the WIN and X keys to bring up the Power User menu, select Device Manager.

Locating Unknown Device’s Hardware ID:

  • In the Device Manager, right-click on the unknown device and select Properties.
  • Select the Details tab, and locate and click on Hardware IDs from the Property drop-down menu.

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  • You may see numerous entries listed in the hardware ID values. Copy (Right-click and Copy) the first entry .
  • You can paste the hardware ID in your favorite search engine, and it should guide you to the hardware vendor and an appropriate driver to download and install. Or, there are sites like PCIDatabase.com where you can also search for the device vendor and locate an appropriate driver for your device.

No Hardware ID Found:

There are older devices, virtual devices, and non-plug-n-play devices where you might have problems locating a Hardware ID. If this is the case for you, go back to the details tab of the unknown device properties, and  look at the following entries in the drop down, there are others, but these are the most common that you will find when the Hardware ID is missing.

  • DevNode status – This will tell us the current status of the device and differentiate between a driver existing and a driver loading. If the driver exists you can look at it’s *.inf file (the inf file name is in the Inf Name drop down)
  • Device Instance path – Often contains Vendor and hardware information, if not than it may contain an ACPI linking it to a processor group.
  • Class Long Name – It’s group name (e.g. Processors)
  • Class Short Name – It’s short (actual) name (e.g. Processor)
  • Class icon path – The path to a dll that houses this devices icons. Although this is likely to be windows generic, it’s worthwhile taking a look at the icons in the *.dll, the easiest way to do this is to change an icon on any shortcut or folder and navigate to that *.dll to browse the icons.
  • Siblings – Any related siblings
  • Parent – any related parents

Locating Legacy Devices in the Windows Registry

Note:  It is highly recommended that you make a backup of your Windows Registry BEFORE attempting any work in the registry.  Be very careful about modifying anything in the registry, as doing so can make your computer unusable.

 Backup your registry

  1. Click Start, type regedit in the search box, select the regedit utility in the results, hit Enter.
  2. Click File, and Export. Give the export file a name (I typically use the date) and save the export file  to C:\ (Saving the file to C:\ will make it easier to find if your computer becomes unbootable as a result of modifying the registry. You can use the export file to restore your computer while in repair mode)

With older legacy devices, some virtual devices, non-plug and play devices, and some viruses there may not be a hardware ID, however there are other things you can do to find your unrecognized device.

If you are trying to find a Legacy item, it will likely be at this registry address:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Enum\Root\. It should begin with the LEGACY_ (e.g.HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Enum\Root\LEGACY_CPUZ132)

 The Windows Registry Editor can be opened by typing REGEDIT into the Run or Search box.

Some other locations that you may find this information are:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Enum\Root
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet002\Enum\Root\

 

Note: Some of the information for this post was copied from  SevenForums.com

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