Device driver installation and maintenance has always been an headache for many Windows users all the while, be it in Windows 95 or Windows Vista. Especially while migrating from Vista or XP to Windows 7, one might have come across various problems pertaining to device identification and driver maintenance. It has been a common complaint that Windows fails to identify the device installed or connected to the computer, and Windows cannot or unable to find proper or correct driver for the device.
In Device Manager, the device will be listed as unknown device with yellow question mark. Check the image below for instance.
In the case of any unidentified, unknown or no-driver installed devices, user can manually download from Internet or use driver CD to install the driver. However, user has to identify and know what’s the unknown device prior to installing correct driver. Here are some ways to find unknown device drivers in Windows.
Ways to Identify and Find drivers for unknown devices
1. Manually Identify an Unknown Device
This is possibly the toughest way to identify the device. First, we need to find out the device instance ID which is made up of Vendor ID and the Device ID. To find the device instance ID go to Device Manager –> Right click the unknown device –> Properties –> Details.
Now, from the drop down menu select Device Instance Path (Windows Vista & 7)/ Device Instance ID (Windows XP)
It will give you a string value which contains the vendor ID and the Device ID. The string is like this:
where VEN_1180 is the vendor ID and DEV_0592 is the Device ID. Note down both of them.
Now, go to the PCI Database website at http://www.pcidatabase.com/, an user-supported centralized database of PCI device IDs.
Enter the device ID in the textbox as shown above and click on Search. You must be able to get the details of the device. With the vendor name or manufacturer name found, visit the support website to search and download latest version of device driver for the corresponding device driver.
In case you cannot find the information at PCI database, you can try the alternative websites – http://www.pcisig.com/membership/vid_search/ or http://pciids.sourceforge.net/
2. Unknown Device Identifier software
Unknown Device Identifier enables you to identify the yellow question mark labeled Unknown Devices in Device Manager. And reports you a detailed summary for the manufacturer name, OEM name, device type, device model and even the exact name of the unknown devices. With the collected information, you might contact your hardware manufacturer for support or search the Internet for the corresponding driver with a simple click. With this utility, you might immediately convert your unidentified unknown devices into identified known devices and find proper driver on the Internet and contact the hardware device manufacturer or vender. Known devices recognized by Microsoft Windows will also be analyzed independent of the operating system.
– Identify USB 1.1/2.0/3.0 Device
– Identify IEEE 1394 Device
– Identify ISA Plug&Play Device
– Identify AGP Bus Device
– Identify PCI, PCI-E, eSATA Device
– Multilingual interface: English, French
– Find Drivers for Hardware Devices
– Contact Hardware Vender directly
– Save or Print Hardware information
Download Unknown Device Identifier or here
3. Unknown Devices
Unknown Devices utility helps users find what those unknown devices in Device Manager really are. By checking Device Manager for unknown devices and extracting information from it, the program attempts to figure out what the device is, so that users do not have to open the PC casing or look up random numbers off of PCI cards to figure out what they are.
Unknown Devices supports Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows Me, Windows 2K, Windows XP, Windows 2003 (but not Windows NT), with beta version supports Windows Vista, and possibly Windows 7. Unknown Devices is portable and does not require installation, so it runs fine from a CD or floppy. Unknown Devices is available for free download.
Download Unknown Devices 1.4.20 Beta
Download Unknown Devices 1.2