Device Manager is the central location for installing, uninstalling, troubleshooting, and even optimizing your PC hardware, yet it’s an underappreciated Windows feature. IT pros are often unaware of its full feature set, and beginners steer clear of its confusing (and potentially dangerous) interface. In this week’s post, the TuneUp blog team will show you seven great things you can—and should—do to get full control over your PC’s innards and all of your peripherals.
How to instantly Launch Device Manager
Getting into Device Manager doesn’t have to involve multiple clicks through Control Panel. Just click on the Start Orb, type “devmgmt.msc” into the quick search field, and hit “Enter”.
Windows XP users can access Device Manager just by going to “Start”, clicking on “Run…” and entering “devmgmt.msc”.
How to fix hardware problems
Have you ever installed a new device driver and gotten a bluescreen, system freeze-up or other weird occurrence? If so, just roll back to the driver version you used previously and wait for the manufacturer to fix these problems. Open up Device Manager and double-click on the device in question, for example, the Wi-Fi adapter.
A new window will pop up in which you should open the “Drivers” tab. Hit “Roll Back Driver” to return to the driver version you previously used.
That’s it! After the next restart, your device should work without any issues.
How to manually install drivers
Have you ever been in the middle of updating your device drivers (which is always a good thing to do) and noticed that some of the downloaded driver packages contain weird looking files? Here’s an example of a freshly downloaded Wi-Fi driver pack created by Broadcom.
But wait! There’s no installer—nothing to double-click on! Device Manager is crucial in these instances. Open it then go to the device you need to update. Double-click on the device and go to the “Drivers” section. Click on “Update Driver” and select “Browse my computer for driver software”.
Then click on the “Browse” button and select the downloaded driver package; extract it if you haven’t done so already.
Hit “OK”, click “Next” and wait for the drivers to install. Voilà! This is also a solution in case the driver installer fails; for instance, we’ve regularly encountered problems with the Realtek HD Audio onboard sound chip and its frequent driver updates. While these downloads include an executable setup file, they don’t always work as expected. The manual method described above is one way to resolve this issue.
How to look for new hardware
Have you ever installed new hardware (like a sound card) onto your PC, but the usual “Found new hardware” message didn’t appear? Have Device Manager look for your new hardware. Launch it, go to “Action” and click on the “Scan for hardware changes” item under it, then just wait for the process to finish.
How to enable power-saving options
Want to save some energy (or battery life) on your notebook? Some of your devices offer power management options that turn systems off when they’re not needed. USB and network devices, in particular, offer these power options. To enable them, open up Device Manager and either your network adapter or your Bluetooth dongle.
Double-click on the entry, go to “Power Management” and make sure you check “Allow the computer to turn off his device”.
Again, this box will often already be checked by default, but it’s a good idea to make sure that it’s enabled.
How to explore hidden settings
Some of your devices have advanced settings that let you tweak them more to your liking. I suggest you explore them! Double-click on your most important devices like disk drives, webcams, sound chips and network adapters and look for the “Advanced” tab. There’s no telling what you’ll find, but be careful about what settings you choose!
How to deal with the five most common Device Manager error codes
Have you ever gotten that annoying yellow exclamation mark next to a device in Device Manager?
Double-clicking on the device in question isn’t much of a help, as you’ll usually get a message like “Device isn’t configured properly” and an error code. But don’t worry! Just refer to the following table, which explains the more common error codes and what to do if you get one.
Forget those device Woes!
This blog post should have answered all of your device and Device Manager questions—did it? Installation, tweaking, repair, and troubleshooting can all be managed through this one program. Are there any error codes we didn’t mention that you’d like us to cover? Let us know in the comments section!