How to Find Drivers for Unknown Devices in Windows

Device drivers are like the fundamental building blocks for your Windows PC as they help all your hardware devices to work as they should work. No matter how useful the device drivers are, they are always a headache if you don’t have proper driver software or if your OS fails to properly identify the hardware connected. In case of driver problems, Windows tries to automatically download and install the required drivers. But when Windows fails to download the drivers automatically, you can hit the manufacturer’s website for proper drivers. But even this won’t yield any good results unless you know how to find drivers for your required hardware. So in this quick guide, let us see how to find drivers for unknown devices in Windows.

Note: This tutorial is done on Windows 8.1, but it should work with Windows 7 and Vista too.

To find drivers for unknown devices in Windows, we need to access device manager where you can manage all your hardware device drivers. To open device manager in Windows 8, press “Win + X” to open the power user menu and then select the option “Device Manager.” If you are using Windows 7 or Vista, you can search for the device manager in the start menu.

find-drivers-windows-select-device-manager

The above action will open the device manager. Now, if there are any unknown devices then they are listed under the “Other devices” category. Moreover, all the devices which have problems will have a small “exclamation” mark telling you the same.

find-drivers-windows-unknown-device

Note: Sometimes, the devices listed under “Other devices” may show you the name as “Unknown device.” Don’t worry, the name doesn’t matter in the process.

Now right click on the identified device and select “Properties” from the list of options.

find-drivers-windows-select-properties

The above action will open up the properties window for that specific device. Navigate to the “Details” tab and you should see the “Device description” by default.

find-drivers-windows-drive-details

Under “Property” select “Hardware Ids” from the drop-down list. This action will show you the list of long gibberish strings which are actually the unique device identifiers.

find-drivers-windows-hardware-ids

Now right click on any of the unique IDs and select the “copy” option to copy that device ID to your clipboard.

find-drivers-windows-copy-hardware-id

Once you’ve copied the unique ID, paste it in a search engine like Google, and it will show you the name and other related details required to hunt down the proper driver. As you can see from the image below, Google search results show me that the ID belongs to “AMD Radeon HD 6470M,” and there are many sites showing me how to download the actual updated drivers.

find-drivers-windows-hardware-search-results

Once you have found the drivers for your hardware, you can install them like any other driver and you are good to go.

That’s all there is to do, and it is that easy to find drivers for unknown devices in device manager. Hopefully that helps. Do comment below if you face any problems while finding drivers for unknown devices using this method.

9 comments

  1. After identifying the proper driver, I always try the manufacturers website first. Some of the other locations will have drivers with potentially unwanted and infected files added.

  2. thanks for the useful information. alternatively you can use driver solution pack, which is free and easy.

  3. If it’s a new piece of hardware being added into the system itself. You can actually take a look at the serial number directly on the card itself like in this case with the video card itself. Usually when I do a fresh installs under windows or Linux distributions. I take a look for the particular model number or serial number itself if it can be seen for it. If the driver that I need to get is something that it is embedded onto the motherboard itself then it get a little more complicated than that. It is good to know this way. But usually and to to bash anyone here either. a quick check on the device in question when the case is open will also be quicker as well. Since you can find it faster in some cases.

  4. Many manufacturers abandon their hardware as soon as it is sold so don’t count on the manufacturer site. HP and Dell, as examples, don’t provide drivers for Windows versions other than the computer was shipped with. Windows 8.1 is actually Vista+++ internally but Microsoft blocks drivers it doesn’t get paid to allow. Tweak is beyond scope of this article. And many driver sites are scams that make you install spyware to “scan your computer”.
    The VEN/DEV codes are provided by the PCI device when queried and can be changed by the manufacturer i.e. Nvidia does not make most video cards with an Nvidia chipset. And looking at OEM parts for ID is often a fool’s errand. Tracking down VID numbers on USB devices is even more challenging. The Enum key in Windows Registry will list actual ID as well as “compatible ID”. My external hard drive lists a specific ID that works with its included “push button backup” software otherwise as a disk will work with “generic usb mass storage device”.

    Most quality system BIOS will give the VEN and DEV information however OEMs like Dell and Apple do not allow users to see that information.
    Reason you cannot get drivers for Apple hardware is Apple (like MS now) does not support older Apple hardware on their newer OS. If you want a newer version of Apple OS you need to buy new Apple hardware. Or install Linux.

    • That’s why I have NEVER bought an Apple product, or recommended it.

      I have also stopped buying HP products.

      They remind me of Steve Miller Band’s song “Take Your Money and Run”!
      Once they take your money, they are done with you, except bombarding you with marketing junk, if you had registered with them.

  5. Well I went to the Properties page of my Samsung YP-Q1 MP4 player (around 6 years old) on my Windows 8.1 laptop and all it said under Hardware ID was “USB\RESET_FAILURE”. The front page of the Properties says “Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43) A USB port reset request failed.” I’ve been having problems with this device for quite awhile now. It also doesn’t help that Samsung discontinued their media player Emo Dio that made the player work. Anyone have any suggestions?

  6. @Jayaraj
    I once trusted the an advice on some forum, and was foolish enough to install DSP (Driver Solution Pack).
    I would not ever again even visit that site, let alone install that software.
    Thanks to some good uninstallers, I made sure no trace of DSP or its associated crap remained anywhere on my machine.
    I am assuming that you are either part of the DSP team, or an innocent victim.
    I hate spam-infected software.

  7. So this articles takeaway is, just Google it? How about you use a real driver PNP id site to look up your missing driver.

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