Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/193798/how-to-find-drivers-for-unknown-devices-in-the-device-manager/
Unknown devices show up in the Windows Device Manager when Windows can’t identify a piece of hardware and provide a driver for it. An unknown device isn’t just unknown — it’s not functioning until you install the right driver.
What is the recommended order that drivers be installed?
I was asked to upgrade an older laptop, and all it kept doing was giving me the BSOD. I read somewhere that there is an acceptable order in which drivers for the motherboard, processor, etc should be installed, and if you dont get the order correct, you will BSOD all over the place.
Laptops are usually limited as to what can be upgraded (at least compared to desktops)
should be straight forward? or your doing it wrong?
@GTH_out Uh, Windows isn't that bad. In fact, it's pretty good once you get it running.
@rubernck211 I don't think we need processor drivers at all. I install them in this order: motherboard/chipset, network, then GPU. I messed up the order a few times, nothing happened...
@GTH_out this is not to be a discussion about Windows vs. whatever. If you feel the need to vent, start another thread.
Good article. Always figured I should be able to pull data directly from the device and use it to find the driver, but was never sure what to use. Googling is usually pretty successful without knowing this but I like having it as an additional way to find drivers.
It would be beneficial to answer the question asked with a response that fits the question. The person did not ask for an alternative to windows.
I use Linux however I do not put people down or insult them if they use windows. Insulting their choice of OS is insulting them as well. If someone is seeking an answer to a problem they have with windows the most expedient thing to do is to offer a solution to the problem.
If someone wants to try linux they will make it known. Just trying to make a point of order here to keep on topic here.
P.S. Sorry I did not see Scott_vt's reply above.
The Single best way I have found to deal with the driver issue is to collect all the necessary drivers into a single folder then rar it and tuck it away then move the newly created folder to WINDOWS folder where you will point the device manager or device driver to update. Of course you should first un-archive all drivers or the device manager will not be able to see them. By putting them into the Windows Directory you also let the new folder inherit the necessary permissions to be installed.
I have had great success with Driver Backup Tools, once everything is set up. On repeated installs, or on systems with similar hardware, there is a folder of (clean) driver files that can be used to point the device manager to. This has also the advantage of being free of the crapware created by Hardware vendors as a part of the driver installers.
One such tool is here. I am not affiliated with the tool in any way other than being a satisfied user.
"Perform a web search for the hardware ID using your favorite search engine. "
Or just go to the PCI database at http://www.pcidatabase.com/ and search for the id. That's what real sysadmins do.
OKay point taken but I thought I'd put my acronym to (misjudged) use
I've had a reasonably good experience using SlimDrivers (www.slimwareutilities.com) to find and install those pesky unknown devices. I always uninstall it afterward though. It's proven to be good for getting all the system drivers up-to-date when first installed, but months down the road, it doesn't find the latest updates. May just be a bug.
Usually, it doesn't matter all that much. The chipset in your laptop should always work with the fallback drivers built in to Windows. However, you could run into dependency issues if the chipset is far enough out of the mainstream. So chipset drivers should usually be first.
Hre's what I've come up with:
If you have a hybrid SSD drive, you may need to install storage drivers during the installation process. Be sure to get the install-time driver if this is the case. (My Dell laptop has a 32GB SSD cache, and the Windows installer will not see the storage system at all without the install-time driver)
Chipset drivers should always be first. Everything else in the system connects through the chipset, so if this isn't working, nothing else will.
Networking: This way you can get Windows updates and download the rest of the stuff you'll need.
Video: this way you can continue the rest of your work without the annoying generic VGA driver slowing you down
A note on monitor drivers: Install monitor drivers if your system doesn't properl detect the monitor resolution or color space. This is especially true if you are using an HDMI monitor; you'll need the right driver to kick the video card in to sRGB mode, which should turn off overscan on a computer monitor. (YCbCr is the default for video content.)
Storage: SSD cache, RAID, NAS... anything your computer needs to access your file system and enable redundancy and maximum performance.
On board sound
a. multimedia keyboard
b. gaming or drafting mouse, tablets, digitizers
c. USB webcam
d. anything that shows up as "Unknown device" in Device Manager
I just use everest, it will tell you what your missing unknown drivers actually are and give you a lot of information on your pc/laptop.
When I used to reinstall XP, I'd use the last, free windriversbackup (1.09) to grab drivers. It still works on newer versions of Windows.
RE: pointing device manager to a folder. Sometimes you have to actually drill down into sub-folders in order to get a driver to load. Even when you have the "include sub-folders" ticked.
On OEM's, there's usually a folder of drivers, ie: Toshiba laptops & their "TOSAPINS" folder located on the C: drive. Have a poke around if you're reinstalling OEM & can reach a useable desktop- you may already have them there.
Lastly, always run Belarc or some sys info program, before you format, which will tell you what you're looking for. Even Dell, which supposedly offers a unique service tag, will offer up multiple wi-fi drivers for your model...
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