How to find drivers for Unknown devices

One of the biggest annoyances in life is finding drivers for unknown devices in Windows.  Not only is it extremely frustrating but at times can cause you to spend hours searching Google for the right driver but to no avail.  Well today we will tell you a simple way to find the driver for any component in your PC/Laptop.  This method works with almost every version of windows from Windows XP/Vista/7 and even Windows 8.

This method is also great for those who wish to install Windows 7 on a machine that comes preloaded with Windows 8.  Most of these machines have no drivers for Windows 7, thus you need to manually find the right drivers.

The Windows Device Manager

The hardware id for a device in Windows can be found in the Windows Device Manager. To check the hardware id for a device, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Device Manager from the Control Panel. You can also type “devmgmt.msc” at the Run option in the Start menu.
  2. In the Device Manager, right-click the device for which you need a driver, and select Properties in the popup menu.
  3. Next, select the Details tab.
  4. Now select the Hardware Ids in the dropdown list.

dev prop How to find drivers for Unknown devices

As you can see in the screen shot, there can be multiple hardware ids for a device. The top one is the most specific identifier, and going down, the identifiers are more generic. The reason this is done is to allow a device driver to be selected based on a match to any of these hardware identifiers.

Right click on the top most hardware id and select copy.  Goto google and paste the copied id and you should various sources to download the driver for that particular component.  You should also see sites that will tell you the name of the device, in the example above the component is Intel(R) 82577LM Gigabit Network Connection and its driver is easily available from several sites.

You can also use a very comprehensive website called PCI Database to find the right driver by entering parts of the hardware id.

Sites to download drivers

Let me point you to some resources to find device drivers as a starter:

DriverGuide.com

With 400,000 drivers, it is very nearly king of the heap. The free membership comes with a few limitations like access to all 100,000+ member uploaded drivers but limited access to the site’s own 300,000+ uploaded drivers. But free entry into its huge company database list and community forum makes this site a great hub. As it allows user submitted drivers, you can put in a request for an obsolete driver.

NoDevice.com

Nearly 30,000 drivers are indexed by company name and driver type. Read more about it here.

DriversPlanet.com

It offers a downloadable driver scanner. The site is well laid out with a database of 120,000 drivers listed by manufacturer and device type.

Let us know how you deal with an unknown device driver and make it a bit more recognizable.

 

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  • Eddie Stevenson

    My properties shows Hardware Id of USB?UNKNOWN. What do I do now?

    [Reply]

    iqsoft Reply:

    Can you give some more details please, i.e. Windows Version, Manufacturer of Machine.. A screen shot would be really helpful!

    [Reply]

  • Naeem Iqbal

    Useful (y)

    [Reply]