This article describes how to use Device Manager to manage devices in Microsoft Windows XP.
Managing devices with Device Manager
Device Manager provides a graphical view of the hardware that is installed on the computer, as well as the device drivers and resources associated with that hardware. Using Device Manager provides a central point to change the way the hardware is configured and interacts with the computer's microprocessor.
Using Device Manager to manage devices and their drivers require the following permissions, all of which are granted to Administrators:
- The Load\Unload Drivers privilege.
- The permissions needed to copy files to the system32\drivers directory.
- The permissions needed to write settings to the registry.
Device Manager allows the following functionality:
- Determine if the hardware on your computer is working properly.
- Change hardware configuration settings.
- Identify the device drivers that are loaded for each device and obtain information about each device driver.
- Change advanced settings and properties for devices.
- Install updated device drivers.
- Disable, enable, and uninstall devices.
- Reinstall the previous version of a driver.
- Identify device conflicts and manually configure resource settings.
- Print a summary of the devices that are installed on your computer.
Typically, Device Manager is used to check the status of computer hardware and update device drivers on the computer. If you are an advanced user, and you have a thorough understanding of computer hardware, you can use Device Manager's diagnostic features to resolve device conflicts, and change resource settings.
To access Device Manager, use any of the following methods:
- Click Start, click Run, and then type devmgmt.msc.
- Right-click My Computer, click Manage, and then click Device Manager.
- Right-click My Computer, click Properties, click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
- Type the following command at a command prompt:
If you want to access Device Manager on a local or remote computer:
- Click Start, click Run, and then type mmc.
- Click Add/Remove Snap In on the File menu (or press CTRL+M), click Add, and then click Device Manager.
When you use this procedure, a shortcut to Device Manager is created that you can use to open Device Manager.
Viewing information about a device driver
To get information about the driver for a device, perform the following steps:
- Double-click the type of device you want to view.
- Right-click the specific device and then click Properties.
- On the Driver tab, click Driver Details.
To view information about the device driver
This information helps determine the file version of the device driver. An icon appears next to device drivers that are digitally signed.
Windows device drivers and operating system files have been digitally signed by Microsoft to ensure their quality. A Microsoft digital signature is an assurance that a particular file is from that manufacturer, and that the file has not been altered or overwritten by another program's installation process.
Depending on how your computer is configured, Windows either ignores device drivers that are not digitally signed, displays a warning when it detects device drivers that are not digitally signed (the default behavior), or prevents you from installing device drivers without digital signatures.
Views and characteristics
The views and their characteristics are available in the following options with descriptions:
- Devices by Type displays devices by the type of device installed, such as Monitor or Mouse. The connection name is listed below the type.
- Devices by Connection displays devices by how they are connected in your computer. Each device is listed under the hardware to which it is connected. For example, if a small computer system interface (SCSI) card is listed, the devices attached to the SCSI card will be listed beneath it.
- Resources by Type displays the status of all allocated resources by the type of device using these resources. The resources are direct memory access (DMA), channels, input/output ports (I/O ports), interrupt request (IRQ), and memory addresses.
- Resources by Connection displays the status of all allocated resources by connection type. The resources are: DMA channels, I/O ports, IRQ, and memory addresses.
- Show Hidden Devices includes non-Plug and Play devices (devices with earlier Windows device drivers).
Updating or changing a device driver
Ensure the latest device driver for each of the devices is loaded in Windows XP. Manufacturers frequently update their drivers to fix problems and take advantage of operating system features. These drivers are usually available from the manufacturer's Web site, and Microsoft also maintains driver files for many devices on its Web sites.
Upon downloading drivers, read the manufacturer's instructions before attempting to use the files to update the device. Often, downloaded driver files are compressed into a self-executing file that needs to be extracted in order to use the driver. In the Hardware Update Wizard, click to select the Have Disk
option, then click the Browse
button to locate the driver files.
How to install a new driver from Device Manager
- Double-click the type of device you want to update or change.
- Right-click the specific device driver you want to update or change.
- Click Update Driver to open the Hardware Update Wizard. Follow the wizard instructions.
Rolling back to a previous version of a driver
Use this feature if you encounter problems after you install a driver, such as error messages when you access the device, faulty behavior of the device, or even the inability to start Windows.
Windows XP provides this roll back to a previous, working, device driver:
- Right-click the device for which the previous version of the driver is desired and then click Properties.
- Click the Drivers tab.
- Click Roll Back Driver.
If the status is Disabled, that is usually the result of user action, and does not necessarily mean that the device has a problem. However, sometimes users disable a device because it was causing a problem, and you should try enabling it to see if it impacts another device negatively.
If the device is experiencing a problem, the Device Status box displays the type of problem. You may see a problem code, or number (or both) and a suggested solution. If you call a support line, this number can be useful for determining and diagnosing the problem.
Troubleshooting a device requires steps specific to that device. If the Device Status box displays a problem, click Troubleshoot
to launch the Windows XP troubleshooter for this device type. Supply information and answer questions as prompted.
If you cannot resolve the problem with the troubleshooter, contact the manufacturer.
For help with device problems in Windows Vista, visit the following Microsoft web page: