Posts Tagged ‘yellow question mark’

Resolving the "Unknown Device" error in Windows XP / 2003

January 17th, 2011 1 comment

For some reason you had to reinstall Windows. Most of the devices attached to the computer were recognized by Windows and the drivers installed automatically. But, when you check the Device Manager to see whether all the drivers are okay, you find a yellow question mark section labeled ‘Other devices’, which is already expanded. Under that, you see a device for which Windows couldn’t install a proper driver.

Sometimes the device is identified correctly, but Windows doesn’t have the correct driver for it. At other times, the device isn’t identified at all and you’d see an "unknown device" listed. Since Windows doesn’t say what the device is, how do you know, what driver you need to download and install? Everyone won’t take the cover off the computer case and inspect. Even if you can, you may be just lazy to open the computer. Still, you may not know what the device could be. What do you do in such a case?

This "Unknown Device" can be seen as a yellow question mark, if you open the Device Manager. There may be more than one device under the question mark.

Most of the time, the device would have a unique ID burned into it. This ID can be used to find information about the device.

How to find this ID?

Open the Device Manager. Open the properties for the "Unknown Device" and then click the ‘Details‘ tab. Select ‘Hardware IDs‘ from the drop-down list. There may be many lines of junk. You only need the first line. It contains all the information needed to find the correct driver.

Taking the following example, VID stands for vendor ID and the number following it is 03E8. Put this into the PCI Vendor and Device List database’s Search box and then click Search. Once you know the device name and manufacturer, you can search a driver for it, download and install it. Here’s a video about using PCI database.

Unknown Device Identifier is a small freeware program from Huntersoft, which identifies unknown devices, not recognized by Windows. It searches working drivers on the Internet and contacts hardware manufacturers or vendors directly.


It comes in handy when you reinstall your operating system and cannot figure out what to do with all those devices with yellow question marks in the device manager.

Unknown Device Identifier is a nice program. It’s easy to use and is a great help to people who need to install drivers for undetected devices on their computers.