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Hardware Driver, how to find that elusive software...

Hardware driver not installed, don't know what the device is?

A problem that I am very familiar with and haven't given it much thought because I do this procedure frequently.

It concerns software for installed or embedded devices that you don't have. Obviously your Operating System (OS) publisher will not supply all the need hardware drivers on the OS install DVD (even though DVD's are now surpassing 40 GB). The quantity and size of all the know devices would surpass 3 of the newer Blu Ray disks.

So what is a DIYer to do when you have one of those devices that has this "Other or Unknown device" in the Device Manager  and when you try to update the driver with the wizard it fails?

There is a way to find out what the device really is and most of the time you can do a search to find the correct device software manually.

Before you  use the following procedure you should do the following steps first, this will save you time:

  1. Use the OS publishers update service (sometimes hardware drivers are included in the update queue).
  2. Go to the computer or motherboard manufacture's web site and try to get the hardware driver there (the manufacture's drivers will be specific to the device you need the software for, less chance of a virus being downloaded also!)
  3. There are a few programs that will do the following procedure, however my experience with these programs are very unsatisfactory, from introducing viruses to poor uninstall procedures by the software programmers to down right hi-jack of your computer for money! So try those at your own risk...

This is the process to find that information to find your hardware drivers.

You start your procedure by opening the Device Manager, find the device that has the "Other or Unknown device" title.

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....

From the device manager, Other Devices...

Right click on the device and go to properties

Hardware device nomenclature - in this case unkown.

You could try the "Update Driver", however with out an INF file to give the properties of the device it will fail.

You could try to update the driver, it will fail however.

Under the "Details" tab you will find some pertinent information about the device, this one I am particularly interested in, it is for XP on a ASUS laptop with an i5 processor and ASUS doesn't supply drivers for XP any longer.

Finding the hardware id by the embedded nomenclature.

By selecting "Hardware Ids" from the drop down menu I find that the device is PCI, then a list of all instances of the device in the registry. What I will start my search for will be the VEN_1180&DEV_E230&CC_0880, I may find all the listed ids or maybe one or two. This will give me an idea of what the actual device is. From there I will search for the actual drivers.

A full list of hardware ids in the OS registry.

This is a listing of all the classes that are in the registry, at this time because there isn't any software loaded for this device most of the categories are blank.

A list of hardware classes for each hardware device in the regisrty.

After searching the internet for this id: VEN_1180&DEV_E230&CC_0880 I find that my device is a Ricoh Card Reader, both Dell and HP use the same chip set.

From the device INF file:

; rimspcie.inf
; Windows XP VISTA x86, x64 installation file
; for installing RICOH Memory Stick driver
; Copyright (c) 2001-2009 RICOH Company Ltd., All rights Reserved
; This Driver supports R5U23x/24x RICOH Controller

When I did the search all the Hardware Ids were listed in different posts to the computer manufactures support sections.

I do strongly advise that you only download device software from reputable sources such as either the chip set manufacture in this case Ricoh or a computer manufacture. Sadly ASUS did not have software for this chip set available for Windows XP.

So I will try the HP drivers first, if they don't work I'll try the Dell, if those don't work I will go to Ricoh and see what they have to offer.

Note: Of course before I load any software I will make a current image of my XP partition, ya know - just in case of a BSOD!

Once you have the software installed you can check for newer versions of the software (if your Windows Update program doesn't find any) by clicking on the "Update Driver" of the Driver tab on the Properties page, if there is one available the program will download and install it. Automation is great isn't it?


Time taken to find my software? About 10 minutes (took longer to make the screen shots on this page...) And will be expanded in my upcoming new book.

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