How to Find Drivers for Unknown Devices in Device Manager

Unknown Device IconYesterday I reinstalled Windows on a laptop for one of our users at work. When the installation was complete, I popped in the driver CD to begin the process of installing the drivers that Windows didn’t install. For some reason the CD only contained two of the eight drivers that I needed. Normally, tracking down the right driver can be a huge annoyance, especially when your devices are showing up with generic names like PCI Device, Video Controller, System Device, or Unknown Device. But with the help of a little utility, I was able to find all of the drivers that I needed saving me lots of time and frustration.

This little utility is called Unknown Devices and it works with Windows 95, 98, 98se, 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista. It’s also a portable application so it requires no installation.

When you run it, Unknown Devices immediately lists out all of the devices that Windows cannot find a driver for and tells you what each one is.

Unknown Devices Screenshot

 

In this example I have a modem that I cannot locate the driver for because I don’t know who the manufacturer is.

Unknown Device In Device Manager Screenshot

 

When I run Unknown Devices, it tells me that the device is made by Context Systems.

Unknown Devices Screenshot

 

I am now able to use this information to download the appropriate driver from the computer manufacturer’s website.

Unknown Device Driver Download Screenshot

 

If you have experience with other utilities like this or other methods of determining unknown devices, please feel free to share.

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Casey

Casey (Surname withheld for contractual and professional reasons) has contributed many great articles on thetechmentor.com. He successfully started his own IT consultancy well over 10 years ago. While going through this tough yet rewarding experience he found there was a terrible lack of focused support out there for computer techs to start their own IT company. So he gravitated towards training and mentoring other computer technicians who want to create a part time or full time income as an IT consultant. He initially wrote thetechmentor.com courses to help computer technicians start their own IT consulting business (or side business). Many articles also help the general public save thousands of dollars in professional help by helping them DIY. He doesn't contribute directly to thetechmentor.com often any more due to leading a full family life and being Technical Director a at major US company (hence the requirement for privacy). However his contributions span over 10 years and some have been extremely popular (with so many comments we had to stop accepting more on some, and thousands of shares although it looks fewer after our change to https - we must get around to fixing that!). Having said this, we work to ensure his work is updated and continues to remain relevant.

7 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply February 20, 2008

    A couple of other options that people may find helpful are Driver Magician and Unknown Device Identifier. You can also lookup PCI devices by VendorID or DeviceID at http://www.pcidatabase.com.

    Jamie

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply March 3, 2008

    I’ve really been enjoying Driverpacks lately. Basically, download all the .7z files, extract them to a directory, and burn to a DVD. Now, whenever you have an unknown device, throw the DVD in, update the driver, and say ‘search removable media’. It’ll grind away for a minute or two, then install it!

    I’ve only ever had problems during recent Vista downgrades, or on the newest laptops.

    Also, I split the Graphics drivers (790 MB) to a DVD, and everything else to a CD – not as many drivers to go through when you’re not doing graphics.

  • dallix

    Reply Reply December 27, 2008

    I use “driver max” it finds the right driver all the time, every time

  • devildog

    Reply Reply December 30, 2008

    Thanks for the info on Driver max .Now maybe this resolve this issue when reformating cpu .

  • HyperOptic

    Reply Reply April 17, 2010

    In my humble opinion, I think Everest is great.
    Not only gives it a list of every device, which manufacturer and the site to get the driver downloaded, but it also measures all of the temperatures of any piece of hardware in the PC.

  • azhar

    Reply Reply April 26, 2010

    hi,

    I know a utility that can install not all the drivers but few very common drivers like, sound, VGA, ethernet and etc. Utility name is 3DPChip, 3DPNet

  • hyaris

    Reply Reply March 25, 2012

    can anyone tell me any website wher i get all sound drivers and easy installation?????

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