ARCHIVED: In Windows, what is the Device Manager, and how can I use it?

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In Windows, the Device Manager keeps a listing of all the hardware devices on your computer. It is the best tool to use for troubleshooting hardware problems.

On this page:

Accessing the Device Manager

Windows 7 and Vista

  1. From the Start menu, select Computer.
  2. Near the top of the resulting window, click System properties.
  3. On the left, click Device Manager.

Windows XP

  1. From the Start menu, select My Computer. Alternatively, double-click My Computer on the desktop.
  2. Under "System Tasks", click View system information.
  3. In the System Properties window, click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.

Printing a list of all installed hardware (Windows XP)

Note: You may need to have a hardware category or item selected before the print option becomes available.

To print a list of installed hardware from the Device Manager, in Windows XP, with a device or category selected, under the Action menu, select Print.

Next to "Report Type", select All devices and system summary. The printout will contain all the IRQ (interrupt request) settings, the system resource reports, a list of all devices and their drivers, and each driver's location on the computer. (If you plan to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows, it is a good idea to print this first, especially if you have off-brand hardware.)

Checking the status of hardware

To use the Device Manager to check the status of hardware:

  1. Select the type of device from the list of devices.
  2. Select your installed device. If the device is not working properly, a yellow circle with an exclamation point will appear over it. Proceed with these instructions to find out which device(s) are conflicting with the selected device.
  3. Double-click the selected device. The General tab in the resulting Device Properties window will note whether the device is working properly. This window also allows you to enable or disable the selected device from all hardware profiles.
  4. Click the Resources tab to determine if there are any conflicts with the device. If the device was flagged with a yellow circle with an exclamation point, check the "Conflicting device list:" box to determine which devices are in conflict with the selected device.

    The Resources tab tells which IRQ the installed device is using. Another device using the same IRQ can create a conflict, which may be why the device is not working. In this case, you can either reinstall it with a different IRQ, or change its IRQ. Only advanced users should attempt to change IRQ settings. If the device is Plug and Play (PnP), it should not be affected by changing the IRQ. If the device is not PnP, changing the IRQ may cause it to stop working. Use the instructions above for checking all IRQs in use on your computer, and find an IRQ that is not in use. To change the IRQ, select the Resources tab and uncheck Use Automatic Settings. In the "Resource settings:" box, double-click Interrupt Request to bring up a new window with the option to change the selected IRQ.

    Note: If the selected device is a modem or a mouse, the Resources tab will not appear. To check the resources of a modem or mouse, select the Ports option in the list of devices in the Device Manager. Select the port where the modem or mouse is installed, and then click Properties. This will bring up a Port Properties window with a Resources tab, where you can check the resources for the modem or mouse.

  5. To update a driver for the selected device, select the Driver tab and click Update Driver.... Follow the steps to update the driver for the selected device.

Removing a device

Only advanced users should attempt to remove a device from the Device Manager. Doing so may require that you log in with administrative rights.

Removing a device causes Windows to lose all recognition of it, and the device will stop working properly. Windows should automatically recognize a new device when it restarts, but this does not always happen. If Windows does not recognize the device, you will need to use the Add New Hardware icon in the Control Panel for Windows to properly recognize the hardware. Before removing the device, be sure you have all the necessary drivers required for the device; this will help if you need to reinstall it.

  • Windows 7 and Vista: In the Device Manager, highlight the device, and then click the Uninstall button at the top of the window (a computer with a red X). Alternatively, right-click the device and choose Uninstall.
  • XP: In the Device Manager, highlight the device, and then click the Remove button at the bottom of the window, or the Remove icon at the top of the window (a computer with a red X).

This is document agln in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 12:11:12.