Apr 11, 2011

How To Find a Driver For an Unknown Device

Sometimes there are things when working with computers that really just chaps your hide. Well, at the very least it chaps my hide. One of those things is right after performing a fresh install of Windows, and you are installing device drivers. There is always that one f’ing driver that you can’t find to an ambiguous device that is “Unknown”.

Like the rest of us you go to the manufacturer’s website, Dell, HP or whatever, and start looking for all the possible drivers that might foot the bill, but alas none of them make sense. Is it the chipset driver? Hell no! Is it the Bluetooth driver? Nope! Is it the biometric driver? Nada! WTF is this thing?

You see where I’m going with this right? Well it turns out that a tool that I blogged about back in 2007 called DriverMax actually can scan your computer, identify the device, and download the driver for you. All in one app! When I originally blogged about it, all I mentioned was it’s ability to backup drivers from one PC to another. Well, it will also update your drivers to the latest versions, and will help you identify those pesky unknowns too! Plus, it’s free! All you have to do is register an account.

To test it out, one of the Desktop techs I work with gave me an HP Elitebook 8440p that he just couldn’t find the right driver for. We had everything else installed except the one *gasp* unknown device!

Computer Management_2011-04-08_11-38-12

I went ahead and launched DriverMax, and after first running the Driver Updates wizard, I ran the Identify Unknown Hardware Wizard.

DriverMax - 2

After a few seconds the scan was done DriverMax opened up a web browser to a page showing me what the device most likely was, and gave me a link where I could search the DriverMax site for the driver.

Identified hardware - Windows Internet Explorer_2011-04-08_11-38-35

It turned out that the missing device was for a built in biometric scanner. The Desktop tech said that he swore he downloaded that from the HP website, and it couldn’t possibly be the missing driver. I decided to download the driver from the DriverMax site to test it out. Guess what? It WAS the missing driver!


As I mentioned above Drivermax is free, and registering an account is free but there are limitations that aren’t there if you pay for their premium subscription which is about $30. I think for most of us though, the free version will do what we need. Usually that is to find that one pesky f’ing driver!

Know of another free tool like this? How about one that you don’t have to register, or one without limitations? Let us know about your favorite driver software in the comments!

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