Unknown DevicesIf you have ever had to reinstall Windows on a PC before then you probably would have encountered this issue.

Unknown devices in Device Manager can be really annoying especially if you have lost the driver disc and can’t identify the device at all to download the drivers from the internet.

Fortunately I have a trick to make identifying those pesky devices much easier without the use of fancy or expensive software. Whether it be audio drivers, video drivers, printer drivers, any kind of drivers!

Simply open ‘Control Panel’ and go to ‘Device Manager’ or go to the ‘Start’ menu and click ‘Run’, type in ‘devmgmt.msc’ and press enter if you can’t find it in the Control Panel.

You will be presented with a big listed on peripherals and devices connected to and installed in your computer. Unidentified devices will be represented by a little yellow circle icon or question mark. Right click on the unknown device you want to identify and select ‘Properties’.

In the device properties window select the ‘Details’ tab at the top. There will be a ‘Property’ drop-down box from which you need to select ‘Hardware Ids’.

In my example I have the value ‘PCIVEN_8086&DEV_109A‘. (See image). There may be multiple entries under hardware Ids but they will always start with the same VEN and DEV numbers, anything listed after the DEV number you can safely ignore. (ie ignore the ‘&SUBSYS...’ and ‘&CC...’ stuff as illustrated below).

Unknown Devices(41779)

This is the information you will need to identify your device. (The device in this example has already been identified and drivers installed as I didn’t have any Unknown Devices to use as in my screenshot.)

A simple Google search of ‘VEN_8086&DEV_109A’ reveals that my device is an Intel PRO Network card and also a few websites where I can download drivers. Please know that this method doesn’t always necessarily pin-point your device 100% of the time and some trial and error may be required but it will at least point you in the right direction.

The issue of unknown devices was more of an issue in Windows XP and earlier, the ability for the Window’s operating systems after XP (ie Vista and 7) to identify and install device drivers has been greatly improved but you still may come across the odd device that can not be identified.

I hope this was helpful and if you have any questions please leave me a comment.