How to identify an “Unknown device” in Windows to find the correct driver [Step-by-Step]

Unknown Device Windows

In this Windows How-to, you are going to learn how to identify the name of an “Unknown device” in Windows that is giving you trouble, that way you can properly find the correct driver.

How many times did you find the message “unknown device” in Windows Device Manger? Many times, right? And how hard is to find drivers for something that you don’t even know what it is? Yeah, you may have an idea, if you find an unknown device and the only thing that is not working is the sound in your computer, but this is not always the case.

There are a lot unknown device identifier software out there that could help in this situation, but I am not really a fan of installing a piece of software for every little thing that is going on in my computer, if there is a way to do it manually and it works, it is enough for me. Keep reading to learn more.


1.  Open Windows Device Manager by either going to the Control Panel or in Windows Vista or Windows 7 by going to Start and type device manager in the search box and press Enter

2.  Locate the unknown device, right-click on it and select Properties.

Unknown Device - Windows Device Manger

3.  Navigate to the Details tab and under Property select Hardware ids.

4.  Next, under Value right-click and copy either the four-part, three-part, or two-part device ID.

Details tab - Device Manger Windows

5.  Then open your favorite web browser do a search with the ID that you copied  — here I’ll recommend you to start with the four-part ID and work your way down until you can identify the device name.

Unknown Device - Hardware ID search

Now just match the Device ID (PCI\VEN 8086…) with a device name (Intel(R) ICH9…) from the search result . For this Windows How-To article I am doing a search for known device on my lab computer, and if you see the first search result it has a pretty good guess of device name — see also the image in step 4 at the box title and you’ll see that both device name match –. Now the only thing left to do is to visit the device or computer manufacture, download and install the correct driver. 

As a personal note, you could keep investigating if you are not too sure by visiting some of the links in the search result and read more about the device, once you are sure and you know what to look for, do a search for the correct Windows device driver. Also this method that I am showing you today should work in Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and pretty much most version of Windows.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].