What is Device Manager
Device Manager is an extension of the Microsoft Management Console that provides a central and organized view of all the Microsoft Windows recognized hardware installed in a computer.
What is Device Manager Used For?:
Device Manager is used to manage the hardware devices installed in a computer like hard disk drives, keyboards, sound cards, USB devices, and more. Device Manager can be used for changing hardware configuration options, managing drivers, disabling and enabling hardware, identifying conflicts between hardware devices, and much more. Think of Device Manager as the master list of hardware that Windows understands. All the hardware on your computer can be configured from this centralized utility.
How To Access Device Manager:
Device Manager can be accessed several different ways including from the Control Panel, the Command Prompt, and more:
How To Use Device Manager:
Each device listing in Device Manager contains detailed driver, system resource, and other configuration information and settings. When you change a setting for a piece of hardware, it changes the way Windows works with that hardware.
Here are some common things that you can do in Device Manager:
· Update Drivers
· Reinstall Drivers
· View a Device’s Status
· Roll Back a Driver
· Enable a Device
· Disable a Device
· Find a Driver’s Version Number
Device Manager Availability:
Device Manager is available in nearly every Microsoft Windows version including Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 98, Windows 95, and more.
Note: Even though Device Manager is available in almost every Windows operating system version, some small differences do exist from one Windows version to the next.
What hardware device drivers should be updated?
Below is a listing of general reasons why computer hardware devices should have drivers updated or why updated versions of drivers may need to be installed.
1. Enable the device to function with a computer.
2. Compatibility with a new or different operating system.
3. To correct issues that may exist with older versions of drivers.
4. Updated reliability for the hardware device.
5. Work around hardware issues that may exist with the hardware device.
6. Improve the overall stability of a computer.
Below is a listing of our recommended hardware devices that you should make sure are updated. Updating your computer’s drivers and other updates can resolve problems you may be having with your computer and help improve the performance and overall stability of your computer and hardware devices.
· BIOS updates
· CD or DVD drive drivers and firmware
· Display drivers
· Keyboard drivers
· Mouse drivers
· Modem drivers
· Motherboard drivers and updates
· Network card drivers
· Printer drivers
· Removable media drivers
· Scanner drivers
· Sound card drivers
· Video drivers
Computer BIOS updates should only be run when you are having compatibility issues with your hardware or you feel that your computer hardware is not performing as it should. Visiting your computer manufacturer or motherboard manufacturer page will enable you to see if any BIOS updates are available for your motherboard and what the updates will fix.
CD or DVD drive drivers and firmware
Updating the drivers for your CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, or other CD device may help with the overall performance and compatibility of the drive. We recommend you visit our CD driver page for a listing of manufacturers and their driver update pages to obtain the latest drivers. Some manufacturers may also have firmware updates available for their CD drives. Firmware updates will help resolve any hardware related issues you may be experiencing with the CD drive such as being unable to read some CD Discs or may update the region code on your DVD drive. Unlike a driver update, these updates should only be performed for users who are experiencing hardware related issues with their drives. Most firmware updates are accessible through the manufacturer’s CD driver page, see the CD driver page for a listing of these links.
Updating or installing the latest drivers for your computer controllers can help with the reliability of the computer as well as reliability and performance of the drives connected to the controller. If you are using a controller separate from your computer motherboard, see the controller drivers page for a listing of controller manufacturers and drivers. If you are not using a separate controller card and are using the controller on your computer motherboard, you can obtain the latest controller drivers from your motherboard or computer manufacturer. See the motherboard drivers page for a listing of motherboard manufacturers and links to their drivers.
Unlike other hardware devices, display devices such as a computer monitor, or flat panel displays are often automatically detected and setup by the operating system.
Unless your computer keyboard contains special function buttons such as an e-mail button, Internet button, etc. your keyboard should not require any drivers and should be setup by the operating system.
Note: Users using a USB or Firewire keyboard may need drivers for their operating system for the keyboard to work and may need to verify that USB and Firewire is properly working in their operating system.
Unless you are utilizing a unique mouse that contains additional buttons or features not found with a standard one or two button mouse, you should not require any drivers and the mouse should be automatically setup by the operating system.
Updating the computer modem drivers can help improve the reliability of the modem and in some rare cases may even improve the speed of the modem. We recommend you visit our modem drivers page for a listing of manufacturers and their driver update pages to obtain the latest drivers. Some modem manufacturers may also have firmware updates that upgrade the modem to support new standards such as V.90 or correct hardware issues with the modem. Firmware updates should only be run if your computer or modem manufacturer recommend you update the modem or if you believe a firmware update will correct your issue. When updating your modem’s firmware, verify you are using a firmware update designed for your modem. Updating the firmware with an incorrect version may cause the modem to no longer work. Firmware updates are usually also available through the modem drivers page.
Motherboard drivers, firmware, and updates
Updating the computer motherboard or motherboard chipset drivers can help with the compatibility, reliability, and performance of the motherboard and the hardware installed in the computer. See the motherboard drivers page for a listing of links to motherboard chipset drivers as well as links to many of the motherboard manufacturers drivers pages.
Network card drivers
Updating or installing the latest drivers for a computer network card may help with the reliability of the network card in the computer. A listing of computer network card drivers can be found on our network drivers page. Some network card manufacturers may also have firmware updates. Firmware updates may resolve issues relating to the compatibility of the network card or resolve other hardware issues. Firmware updates should only be run if your network card or computer manufacturer recommends an update. These updates can also be found through the manufacturer’s network driver page.
Updating or installing the latest drivers for a computer printer may help with the reliability and compatibility of the printer. A listing of computer printer drivers can be found on our printer drivers page.
Removable media drivers
Updating or installing the latest drivers for a removable media device such as a tape drive may help with the reliability of the removable media device. A listing of computer removable media drivers can be found on our removable media / tape drive drivers page.
Updating or installing the latest drivers for a scanner may help with the reliability and compatibility of the scanner. A listing of computer scanner drivers can be found on our scanner drivers page.
Sound card drivers
Updating or installing the latest drivers for a sound card will help with the compatibility, reliability, and the performance of the sound card. A listing of computer sound card drivers can be found on our sound card drivers page.
Updating or installing the latest drivers for a video card will help with the compatibility, reliability, and the performance of the video card. A listing of computer video card drivers can be found on our video card drivers page. Some video card manufacturers may also have firmware updates. Firmware updates may resolve issues relating to the compatibility of the video card card or resolve other hardware issues. Firmware updates should only be run if your video card or computer manufacturer recommends an update. These updates can also be found through the manufacturer’s network driver page.
Installing hardware drivers
The Device Manager (Control Panel, System, tab Hardware, button Device Manager) shows you all the detected and installed hardware and hardware drivers. The unrecognized hardware is shown as a yellow question mark, which indicates you still have to install some drivers to get it to work. Probably you received a special CD-ROM or floppy disk from the manufacturer, which you have to use to install the drivers for the unrecognized hardware. If you don’t have the CD- ROM (anymore), you can almost always download the hardware drivers from the manufacturers website. Below you see all installed hardware within the Device Manager, as you can see there are no yellow question marks anymore:
Nowadays, most hardware is recognized by Windows. If this is not the case, the installation files from CD-ROM (or downloaded from the manufacturers website) give a problem free installation. Most times, if you follow the installation instructions on a clean Windows setup, there won’t be any problem. If the installation did give an error, the best you can do is to delete the new hardware drivers from the Device Manager. Just delete the hardware entry (DEL-key). After a reboot of your
computer, the hardware will be detected again, which enables you to reinstall the hardware drivers.
IF NEEDED, USE WINDOWS 2000 DRIVERS
For older hardware, there are not always Windows XP drivers available. Most times you can work around this problem by using the Windows 2000 drivers, the architecture of both Windows system is almost similar. In many cases you are able to get the older hardware working on your Windows XP machine. Ignore the warning of incompatible drivers because it’s not signed by Microsoft.
Download the latest drivers and software
Solving the yellow question marks in the Device Manager is not all you should do! Many drivers are recognized by Windows, which doesn’t mean that you have installed the best drivers. Do not install all the software on the CD-ROM, most times there is a newer version available (for example the Adobe Acrobat Reader (download: www.adobe.com), which would probably have a newer version). Always check if there are new drives available for your hardware! Of course it takes some time to visit the different websites, but it can give you some extra performances, less errors/bleu screens of death (BSOD) and/or more functionality. To help you, here are some popular links for your drivers:
Motherboard/chipset AMD, INTEL, ASUS, MSI
Graphics ATI, NVIDIA, MATROX, S3
Sound ANALOG DEVICES, CREATIVE, REALTEK, SIS, VIA
If you know the name of the device (because you wrote it down from your previous Windows setup) and it is not available in the above websites, you can start searching the internet. I prefer to use Google and/or Copernic. With the right phrase you are able to quickly find the drivers you need.
UNKNOWN HARDWARE? USE EVEREST
If you really don’t know what drivers to install, use a tool to analyze the hardware. Everest (the follow up of AIDA, download: www.lavalys.com) will probably the best tool for you to find out the exact hardware, what drivers you need and where you can find them. Unfortunately, this tool is no longer free. An older version is still available for download at MajorGeeks (download: www.majorgeeks.com).
UNKNOWN MOTHERBOARD? USE CPU-Z
No sounds, no network support or your computer doesn’t switch off automatically? You probably need to install the drivers of your motherboard. A very useful tool to find out the type of your motherboard is the CPU-Z utility (download: www.cpuid.com). With this utility you are able to find out quickly what’s the name and type of the motherboard, processor and your RAM memory. With this information you can find the drivers on the website of the manufacturer.
HIDDEN INFORMATION IN THE DEVICE MANAGER
By double clicking a device in the Device Manager, you receive more information about the hardware. If this is not enough for you, the device properties can be extended with the tab Details with a tweak. To enable the tab Details: Control Panel, System, tab Advanced, button Environment Variables. area System variables, button New with the name DEVMGR_SHOW_DETAILS and value 1. By adding the system variable DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES with value 1, you are also able to see hidden devices.
Sometimes you receive an error which tells you about a missing setup file. Most times the file is available, but at another location on your hard disk. By using the Windows search function (Start, Search), you are able to search the file somewhere on your hard disk or CD-ROM, while the setup procedures waits until you browse to the found location. Most times this is a nice work around! If you already have a device driver installed, but you would like to update it with a newer driver, you can get into troubles as well. By booting in safe modus (press F8 at boot) you can choose for rolling back to the previous drivers. You can do this in the Device Manager (Control Panel, System, tab Hardware, button Device Manager, right click the updated hardware, select Properties, tab Driver, button Roll Back Driver).