Whenever Windows is unable to load up the proper driver for a new device, it shows up as “Unknown device” with an exclamation mark on the Device Manager page. Sadly this problem doesn’t get automatically fixed with time. So, you have to take care of this issue yourself. There are quite a few ways you can fix this problem. Follow these instructions to update the device driver.
Fix 1 – Update the device
The first solution you may try is to update the device driver from the Device Manager itself.
Step 1 – Start to type “device” in the search bar.
Step 2 –There, right-click the “Device Manager” in the search results to open it up.
Step 3 – Once you get there, expand the “Other devices” section to locate the “Unknown device”.
Step 4 – Then, right-click that “Unknown device” and click the “Update Driver Software…” option.
Step 5 – In the next step, you will notice two distinct options. So, choose the “Search automatically for updated driver software” option.
Now, all you have to do is to follow the on-screen steps to complete the installation process of the driver.
Though this may work sometimes, it usually doesn’t fix this problem. It may come around again.
Fix 2 – Using the hardware ID, install the driver
You can have a better understanding of the driver origin, version, and manufacturer from the hardware IDs. So, follow these steps.
Step 1 – Identify the driver
You can do this from Device Manager.
Step 1 – Press the Win key+X keys together.
Step 2 – Then, right-click the “Windows” icon and click “Device Manager”.
Step 3 – Now, find the “Unknown device”.
Step 4 – After that, right-tap the device and click “Properties”.
Step 5 – Switch to the “Drivers” tab.
Step 6 – There, you will notice a table called Property. Select “Hardware IDs” from the drop-down menu to use it.
Now, you will see certain parameters in the “Value” tab.
Step 7 – Using your mouse, select that value, right-click it, and click “Copy”.
Additional Information – If you want to know the exact information about the device driver, you can search using the VEN and DEV numbers.
The copied hardware ID contains the VEN and DEV numbers. You can use these in PCI Lookup to narrow down the search.
The hardware ID you have copied should contain two four-digit numbers that specify the driver details.
1. Check the hardware ID.
It is like this –
2. The four-digit number after “VEN” is known as the Vendor number.
3. In The same way, four digits after the “DEV” is known as the Device number.
So, from the hardware ID, these are the numbers –
VEN - 8086 DEV - A102
4. Now, head on to the PCILookup.
5. Here, copy-paste the VEN number into the Vendor box. Following the same way, copy-paste the DEV number into the Device box.
6. After this, click “Submit“.
7. On the following search page, you will see the details of the hardware from the “Description” tab.
This should help you understand the origin of the driver along with the driver’s name and type.
(Like in my case, the unknown device is an Intel Chipset SATA Controller. So, you can just go to the Intel website and download the latest driver for the system. )
Now you may minimize the Device Manager page.
Step 2 – Search, download and install the driver
You can now use the copied hardware ID to search, download and install the driver from the internet.
Step 1 – Open a browser and search using the copied Hardware id.
Step 2 – The search results should include certain driver links along with the manufacturer’s details. If you can’t see any manufacturer’s name here, notice the name of the driver from the search results. You can download the driver separately from the details that you have just noted.
You can easily download the driver from these websites.
NOTE – Do not download or install any driver from third-party websites as these often contain malware, Trojan, or any other kind of infection that is harmful to your device and the system’s stability. So, download the necessary driver for the device from the official OEM website or from the vendor websites.
Step 3 – Some driver packages are delivered in a compressed format. If it is a zip file, decompress it.
Step 4 – Inside the extracted folder, you will find the driver installer executable file (generally, referred to as “setup.exe”.) Now, run this setup file to install the driver on your computer.
Now just follow the instructions to install the driver for the device. Once you have done installing the driver, you should just restart your computer once.
Fix 3 – Manually download & install the unknown driver
If you have recently plugged in a new device (like a new printer or scanner) but haven’t installed the driver yet, the plugged device may appear as an “Unknown device” with an exclamation triangle along with it.
So, if you know which device is this, you can directly go to that device manufacturer’s website, download the latest driver and install it.
Step 1 – Go to the device manufacturer’s website.
Step 2 – Now, here you will find a section called “Downloads” or “Drivers”. Here, specify which device driver you are looking for (like enter the model number).
Step 3 – Download the latest driver on your system.
Step 4 – Install that downloaded driver following the driver setup wizard.
Step 5 – It is a must that you restart your computer after this.
Restarting the system completes the whole process.
Now, you can open Device Manager and check if you still can see the Unknown Device error message or not.