July 3rd, 2010
All hardware equipment uses an identifier to uniquely identify itself. This allows operating systems to recognize them and install the necessary software for them. In Windows this generally means that a device driver for the hardware is installed. The hardware identifier is a combination of the bus type, the hardware manufacturer (or vendor) and the device identifier. In some cases additional sub-system identifiers and revision information is included to distinguish between variations of a device.
So when you are looking for a device driver for a piece of hardware, it is useful to know the hardware id of the device. This can tell you which manufacturer made the device and help you find a device driver.
The Windows Device Manager
The hardware id for a device in Windows can be found in the Windows Device Manager. To check the hardware id for a device, follow these steps:
- Open the Device Manager from the Control Panel. You can also type “devmgmt.msc” at the Run option in the Start menu.
- In the Device Manager, right-click the device, and select Properties in the popup menu.
- Next, select the Details tab.
- Now select the Hardware Ids in the dropdown list.
As you can see in the screen shot, there can be multiple hardware ids for a device. The top one is the most specific identifier, and going down, the identifiers are more generic. The reason this is done is to allow a device driver to be selected based on a match to any of these hardware identifiers.
The hardware manufacturer in this example is Realtek, which is identified by
Obviously this is a device for which a driver is installed already, and the manufacturer and model for the device are shown, but the hardware id is also available for unknown devices and not recognized devices.
Driver finder programs use the hardware id and the compatible id to find a matching driver for a device as well.
Entry Filed under: Device Drivers