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Troubleshooting Windows Device Manager

Troubleshooting Windows Device Manager
Our Tim looks shows us how to troubleshoot device driver issues in Windows

Troubleshooting Windows: Removing that pesky exclamation mark in Windows Device Manager.

You've no doubt seen it before. You've just installed a brand new copy of Windows and noticed that either a certain device isn't working, or you've navigated to Device Manager and noticed an exclamation mark next to a device, and you just can't seem to get rid of it! In this blog I'll show you how to fix this.

device manager problem 

Windows XP Device Manager

The first thing to do is dig out the CD's that came with your computer and look for one that has "Drivers" labelled on it. (Drivers are basically a set of instructions in a software package that control how the hardware works.) This will include drivers for every device in your machine and will more than likely remove all the exclamation marks in device manager and make your hardware function correctly.

If you don't have a "Drivers" CD you can simply go to the manufacturer's website and download the relevant drivers for your make and model of machine. This is the recommended method as drivers on manufactures websites are often more up to date than the ones provided on CD. Generally the newer the driver, the more bug fixes will be included, meaning a more stable machine and a happier user!

If you're unsure of the make and model of your machine you can simply type "dxdiag" into a Run box (on Windows XP and 7), this will launch the DirectX Diagnostic Tool which will display a summary of the specifications of your machine, including the make and model number. You can also type 'systeminfo' into a command prompt and hit enter for more details.


dxdiag in Windows 7

Before troubleshooting the problematic device, always let Windows Update look for a driver first. Although automatic Windows driver updates (aka Plug and Play) in Windows 7 was a massive improvement over previous versions, it's still advisable to let Windows check for drivers regardless of which version of Windows you're using.  It might save you hours of searching for the correct driver.

To do this, simply right click on the device and go to Properties, then click the Driver tab and click "Update Driver", then click "Search automatically for updated driver software", your computer will then connect to the Internet to try and locate the best driver for your device. Obviously if you have the driver CD to hand at this point you can select the other option "Browse my computer for driver software" and select the directory containing the drivers located on the CD.

If Windows Update didn't find a driver, don't worry. Right click on the device in question and go to Properties; this time you need to click on the Details tab and drop down the Property list so Hardware Ids is selected.

sound card 

Windows 7 sound card properties.

Here you can find out which driver you need to remove the exclamation mark from Device Manager and finally get your device working how it should!

The key info we need from here is VEN_1002 and DEV_AA01.

Next, go to and enter the above information into the relevant fields. You can see a full list of vendors here Obviously if you are trying to configure something like the network adapter you will have to use another machine with Internet access to look up the device ID.

We can see that VEN_1002 is ATI Technologies Inc. (AMD) and DEV_AA01 is ATI Mobility Radeon HD HDMI Audio Realtek. I could then go and download the appropriate driver. If you're wondering why it's suggesting my device is a graphics card when I'm searching for a sound card driver, it's because this model of graphics card actually has a sound card built in.

My CD drive doesn't work, could this be a problem with drivers?

Yes! Don't throw away your CD drive until you've read this.

A common issue in Windows XP and Windows 7 is the disk drive not working. Go to Device Manager and look for an exclamation mark next to the CD Drive under the DVD-CDROM drives header. If you go to properties and investigate the error, you'll find it's probably reporting a code 10 or code 19 error message. This can sometimes be caused by media applications such as iTunes. The fix for this can be found here

Or you can manually fix it yourself by deleting the relevant registry keys, but always back up your registry before making any changes.

If your organisation is having problems with devices, or you would like to talk to someone about a future hardware upgrade, give us a call on 0114 299 4050.


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