What is device manager?

Device Manager provides you with a graphical view of the hardware (internal and external) that is installed on your computer and gives you a way to manage and configure your devices. With Device Manager, you can determine whether Windows recognizes a device and if the device is working properly. You can also enable, disable, or uninstall the device; roll back the previous version of the driver; and identify the device driver including its version and change hardware configuration settings.

Using Device Manager

To open the Device Manager, you can do one of the following:

  • Open the Control Panel in Category view, click Hardware, and click Device Manager.
  • Open the Control Panel in Icon view and double-click Device Manager.
  • Open the System Properties and click Device Manager.
  • Open the Computer Management console and click Device Manager.
  • Open the Server Manager and click Device Manager under Diagnostics.
  • Start Search box or Run box and execute the following command from a command
    prompt: mmc devmgmt.msc.

If you are logged on as the built-in Administrator account, Device Manager opens. If you are logged on as the user that is a member of the Administrator group and you have User Account Control enabled, you will have to click Continue to open Device Manager. See Figure below.

Device Manager 1

If you locate and double-click a device or right-click a device and select properties, you can view the details of the driver in the General tab including the status of the device. The Details tab will give you detailed settings of various properties assigned to the hardware device. As a server administrator, most of the items you will need are located at the Driver tab:

  1. Driver Details: Shows the driver file(s) and their location, the provider of the driver, the version of the file, and the digital signer of the file.
  2. Update Driver: Allows you to update the driver software for a device.
  3. Roll Back Driver: Used to roll back a driver if problems exist when you update a device driver. If there’s no previous version of the driver installed for the selected device, the Roll Back Driver button will be unavailable.
  4. Disable/Enable: Instead of uninstalling the driver, you can use the Device Manager to disable the device.
  5. Uninstall: Used to remove the driver software from the computer.

Additional tabs such as Advanced, Resources (Memory Range, I/O Range, IRQ, and DMA), and Power Management may be shown depending on the type of device. See Figure below. If there is conflict for your resources, you can try to use Device Manager to change the memory range, I/O range, IRQ, or DMA of the device). In addition, if you right-click a device in Device Manager, you can update driver software, disable the device, uninstall the device, or scan for hardware changes.

Device Manager 2

Figure: Device Properties

When you use the Device Manager that comes with Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008, you should note the following:

  • A down black arrow indicates a disabled device. A disabled device is a device that is physically present in the computer and is consuming resources, but does not have a driver loaded.
  • A black exclamation point (!) on a yellow field indicates the device is in a problem state.
  • You also need to check whether any devices are listed under Other devices or have a generic name such as Ethernet Controller or PCI Simple Communications Controller, which indicates that the proper driver is not loaded.