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Windows Device Manager

What is the Device Manager?

This is a hardware diagnostic tool that Microsoft includes with its Windows Operating Systems. This tool can be used to:

(Quick Links:)

<>How do I access the Device Manager?

Method #1:

Go to Start>> Run. Type in: devmgmt.msc [Enter] or click OK.

Method #2:

Go to Start>> Right click "My Computer">> Select Manage>> Device Manager.

Method #3:

Go to Start>> Control Panel>> System icon>> Hardware tab>> Device Manager button.

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<>Troubleshoot Existing Device Problems:

When you open the Device Manager, you may see a problem code for a specific device, such as:

  • A black exclamation point (!) with a yellow background. This would indicate that this particular device has a problem. It is very possible that even with this problem, the device can still be functioning.
     
  • You could see a code that would explain the problem the device is having.
     
  • If you should see a Red X displayed, this indicates that the device has been disabled.
     
  • A blue "i" on a white background under "Computer properties" does not indicate a problem in the device. It means that the "Use automatic settings" feature is not enabled. This merely means that the resources for this device have been manually selected.
     
  • When a green question mark "?" is displayed, this indicates the possibility that all functionality for this device may not be in use. This is a driver issue that is only found in Windows ME.

When you double click a specific device, you will see a property sheet for that device. Once the property sheet is displayed, the "General" tab should be selected by default and will display general information for this device. Notice that under "Device status" you are given a message. This message will generally read "This device is working properly". In the event that there is a problem with this device, you will be given a code. You then can click the "Troubleshooting" button for further help in resolving any issues with this device.

Other tabs may also be available for this device, such as:

  • Resources
  • Driver
  • Settings

Note: Not all device property sheets have the same tabs.

When you click the "Resources" tab (see fig.1), you will see a list of the resource settings. Notice at the bottom of the resources window, you will see a box titled: "Conflicting device list". If there is a problem with this device you will see a message with an error code listed.

(fig.1) [Click]
Figure 1

A detailed listing of error code explanations and recommended resolutions can be found here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310123/EN-US/

Note: Within the Resource window, you will notice a checkbox titled: "Use automatic settings". This is usually checked and is grayed out so that the setting can not be altered. This is due to Windows automatically and successfully installing this device without conflict. If Windows was not able to install this device successfully, you would have to install the resources for this device manually. The "Use automatic settings" would not be checked or grayed out in this case and you would have the "Change Setting" option available to adjust the resource values for the device.

Next, click the "Driver" tab (see fig.2). Typically, you will have 4 options available:

  • Driver Details (displays details about the driver files)
  • Updated Driver (update device with a possible updated driver)
  • Roll Back Driver (if an updated driver installation causes problems with the functionality of the device. Use this option to roll back the driver to the original version)
  • Uninstall Driver (this will uninstall the device from your system)

(fig.2) [Click]
Figure 2

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<>Configure Changes in Resource Settings:

If you are attempting to install a Non-Plug & Play device, it may be necessary to make configuration changes manually to the device. Instructions for making these changes will be supplied by the device manufacture in the installation instructions.

Warning: Making incorrect changes can result in an inoperable operating system or non-functioning hardware. Follow the manufactures instructions carefully.

To configure a device manually:

  1. Open the Device Manager using any of the listed methods at the beginning of this article.
  2. Double click the device that needs to be configured.
  3. Click the "Resource" tab.
  4. Click to clear the "Use automatic settings" checkbox.
  5. In the "Resource Settings" box, click to select the resource type that you would like to change.
  6. Click the "Change Setting" button.
  7. Type the new value for the resource type (refer to the manufactures instructions).

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<>Identify Device Drivers:

From time to time hardware manufactures make updated drivers for existing products to increase functionality. To take advantage of these updates, you need to first, identify the driver that is currently installed to determine if an updated driver is even necessary. Here's how you can get the driver information using the Device Manager:

  1. Open the Device Manager using one of the listed methods at the beginning of this article.
  2. Click the Driver tab.
  3. Look for the "Driver Version" within the Driver window (see fig.3).

(fig.3) [Click]
figure 3

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<>Update a Device Driver:

  1. Open the Device Manager using one of the listed methods at the beginning of this article.
  2. Right click the device that you would like to install an updated driver for.
  3. Click "Update Driver" from the resulting menu.
  4. This will invoke the Hardware Wizard. Follow the onscreen instructions to successfully update your device driver.

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<>Rollback to an Original Device Driver:

If you have installed an updated driver to an existing device installed on your system and it causes the device to operate poorly or possibly causes the device to stop functioning. You can "Roll Back" or revert back to the originally installed driver. This should return the device back to the same functionality it had prior to the installation of the updated driver. Here's how:

  1. Open the Device Manager using one of the listed methods at the beginning of this article.
  2. Double click the device that you would like to "Roll Back" the driver for.
  3. Click the "Driver" tab.
  4. Click the "Roll Back Driver" button.
  5. Click Yes when prompted: "Are you sure that you would like to roll back the driver to the original version?" Your device will now be reverted back to the original driver version.
  6. Exit all windows.

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<>Enable, Disable or Uninstall Devices:

Enabling or Disabling a device is very simple. Here's how:

  1. Open the Device Manager using one of the listed methods at the beginning of this article.
  2. Right click the device you would like to enable or disable. If the device was previously disabled, the "Enable" option will be listed here. Otherwise, you can disable the device by clicking the "Disable" option.

To Uninstall the Device:

  1. Open the Device Manager using one of the listed methods at the beginning of this article.
  2. Right click the device that you would like to uninstall.
  3. Click the "Uninstall" option.

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<>Create a Printed Report Using Device Manager:

Generally, this is unnecessary and a little perplexing. However, if you feel the need to have a printed report about your devices, follow the instructions given at Microsoft:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/q308579/

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