Finding a hardware driver for Unknown Device in Windows
  • 8
    Nov

Finding a hardware driver for Unknown Device in Windows

If you have ever reinstalled Windows onto a PC or Laptop then you have probably experienced the annoyance of the “Unknown Device”.

Sometimes you can be safe to ignore these devices and continue using your PC as normal but in most cases it is better to install all drivers to ensure optimal operation.

Thankfully fining the right driver is not too difficult and there are a couple of things to try:

Step 1: Visit the Manufacturers Website

The simplest method to find the right drivers for your computer is to visit the support section of your manufacturers website. You will need the service tag or product code for your computer / laptop so you can find it on the site and thesecan usually be found on a sticker somewhere on the case or sometimes under the battery on laptops (just remove the battery and look underneath). Once you have your product code head over to their website, look for the “Support” section and eventually you will find a page like the one below which provides download links to all the available driver files:

dell-product-supports

 

If you are unsure which driver you need for your unknown device then download all of them and install each one in turn until the unknown device disappears.

 

Step 2: Windows Update

Microsoft’s driver library has grown very comprehensive over the last 5 years and an impressive number of devices are supported without the need for additional drivers files. First ensure that you computer has all the latest updates installed by using the Windows Update tool in the Control Panel:

c01923486[1]

Make sure you click the link that says [some number of] Optional updates are available and include some of the updates in this list as this is usually where new driver files will appear for your computer.

You can also try searching for a specific driver by right clicking the device in Task Manager and choosing Update Driver then Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software:

windows-search-for-driver-software-online[1]

 

 

Step 3: Find a Device Driver by Hardware ID

If neither of the previous steps were successful then the final step is to search on-line against the specific hardware identifier of your device.

First, open Device Manager, locate your device and double click to open the Properties Window. Then go to the Details tab and locate the Hardware IDs property:

hardware-ids

 

There will often be multiple entries listed and some will be a single device code (like tap0901 in the example above ) whereas others might look more like this:

hardware-ids2

 

With longer, multi-part codes separated by the & symbol.

In the example above:

  • VEN_8086 corresponds to a hardware vendor with the code 8086 (which happens to be Intel Corporation).
  • DEV_1E3A  is the device code which in this example equals 1E3A (the DEV part just means device)
  • We also have a sub/variant code like CC_078000 which can safely be ignored in most cases but is worth noting down if you have trouble installing the drivers later on.

So what can we do with this information? Well thankfully there are some great websites which allow us to find a specific device by vendor code or device code. Our favourite is the PCI Database (http://pcidatabase.com/).

Click on the link and then use the search form on the home page to perform a vendor search (using your vendor code above):

pcidb1

Click the vendor name to view the devices list and then use your browser search (CTRL + F in most web browser) to search the list of devices for your device code:

pcidb2

As you can see we have successfully identified our Intel Management Engine Interface in the list and there is even a link straight to the download page for our driver (sometimes you will have to go off hunting on the manufacturers website!)

You may need to try searching on different parts of the product code and sub code to find a match and often the match will not perfectly match your own code but it should be close enough to narrow down which driver you need and give you a starting point.

If you only have a device code (like in the first example) then you can just try a direct search on the device using the Device Search on the PCI Database homepage.

 


 

And that’s it! No more annoying “Unknown Devices” !

One Comments

  1. David says:

    I thought this was really good, loads of things I didn’t know and all in a single page that I can save for later.
    Well done Olly!

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