Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to troubleshoot unknown devices in Windows XP Device Manager?

Working computer have all the drivers for the hardware used, and you might not even think about all these pieces of computer code supporting the functionality of all systems. However, after computer crash or following the complete re-installation of the Operating System, you may find that not all the hardware elements are recognized automatically by Operating System. If you are advanced and careful computer user, you might have the drivers backup somewhere, or, at least the original drivers disk, which came with computer purchase. But, what if you miss this information? The devices, where the drivers are not assigned or improperly assigned, might not properly function, or not function at all.

First of all, visit your Device Manager to see, what kind of problems you have. Device Manager displays a list of all devices that are installed on a Windows XP-based computer. When you view device information in Device Manager, you may see a device listed as Unknown Device next to a yellow question mark. It may be difficult to determine the cause of this unknown device, because there are few indications of what generates it. There are several ways to access Device Manager. One of them is choosing My Computer on your desktop or menu and with right click calling Properties. Next, select the tab Hardware and click on the Device Manager button.

When you located the questionable device, try to update the driver, pointing the search to the disk with the stored drivers collection or just let computer search Internet for the suitable one, if you do not have a disk. The worst situation is when your problematic device is related to networking, not allowing you to go online. For this case, you will have to operate from another computer to locate and download the required driver.

There are several ways to update the driver, if it is not recognized automatically:
1. Visit the following Microsoft Web site to see whether the Web site autodetects an updated driver for your device. Install all recommended drivers. (

2. Search for Universal Drivers Pack in Google for your Operating System. Download it and burn DVD or copy to the external drive. Then, direct for the updated driver search to the location where the drivers are placed. I have several packs for Windows XP, and there was no single case, when the drivers were not recognized, except for the hardware malfunctioning issues.

3. Visit directly the manufacturing site for the device you need to troubleshoot:
  • Visit the Web site of the computer manufacturer if the device came with the computer.
  • Visit the Web site of the device manufacturer if the device was installed after you purchased your computer.
  • Visit the Web site of the device manufacturer if the device was preinstalled on your computer and the computer manufacturer does not have an updated driver.
Look for a Drivers section or a Download section on the manufacturer’s Web site, and search for the device name. Download and install the Windows XP version of the driver. If you do not know the identification and manufacturer of the malfunctioning device, follow the steps:
  • Right click on the unknown device and click on Properties.
  • Under the Properties window click on Details tab and select Device Instance Id (or Device Instance Path) from the drop down box.
  • You should see a code similar to this

  • The portion of the code highlighted in RED is the Vendor ID and the portion highlighted in GREEN is the Device ID. In this example:

          Vendor ID = 8086
          Device ID = 27DC
  • Once you have obtained both the IDs, proceed to PCI Database. There you can either search for the vendor from the vendor ID or directly get information about the device along with the vendor name by searching with the device ID.
4. Locate the required driver from the specialized websites
In case, the manufacturer does not provide the drivers download option, or ceased to exist at all, you can search for the required drivers on the websites collecting all kind of drivers. There is a list of the sites, you can use:

Sources and Additional Information:

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