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Make sense of “unknown devices” with Hardware Identify

31 March 2014, Mike Williams

Utilities developer has announced the availability of Hardware Identify, a tool which attempts to list the various devices on your PC – even if Device Manager (or other system information tools) currently show them as “unknown”.

Download, unzip and launch the program, and within a few seconds it displays a table listing all your hardware. Details include the device name, manufacturer, error code (if there’s currently a problem), class (USB, System, Port, Mouse and so on), driver version and hardware IDs. Clicking any column header sorts the list by that field.

The table can be filtered in various ways. For example, click in the list box at the bottom left of the window, select “List hardware with no drivers installed” and click “Show Hardware” to see those devices.

The identity of each device is listed in a lengthy report

If you still can’t figure out what a particular device is, right-clicking it and selecting “Lookup Selected Device in Database” might help.

And there’s also a right-click option to search Google for drivers, using either the device name or hardware ID (the cryptic USB\VID_8087&PID_8008&REV_0005|USB\VID_8087&PID_8008 – type string).

As usual with this kind of tool, you shouldn’t expect too much. We tried to “lookup selected drive in database” and were regularly pointed at 3, 4, maybe 5 devices, with no clue which was the right one.

There were also some small but irritating bugs (the program allows you to spend an age resizing each table column, but then restores the defaults if you resize the Hardware Identify window).

The program is only at version 1.0, though, and with an automated mechanism in place for users to “improve the database”, Hardware Identify should only get better from here.

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