How to find a driver for an unknown device in Windows

Have you ever had an “unknown device” in the Windows device manager and wanted to get rid of it installing the appropiate driver? You just had no idea what device was meant?

This happened to me with a 32-bit PCMCIA Compact Flash adaptor for my notebook (ok, I knew what device it was, but I couldn’t find a driver).

Here is what I found out on

  1. Open the device manager (I usually do this with the keyboard shortcut windows+pause -> hardware -> device manager)
  2. Right-click the device and click “properties”, then click “details” tab
  3. Choose “compatible IDs” from the drop-down menu
  4. Click on the first item in the list and use ctrl+c to copy it to clipboard
  5. Click Start -> Run, type “notepad”, this will bring up the text editor
  6. Press ctrl+v to paste
  7. Let’s say you have an ID like this: PCI\VEN_11AB&DEV_4320&REV_14
    This is the vendor/manufacturer ID, device ID and device revision number.
  8. Now go to This brings up a list of hardware manufacturers and their IDs. Look for the manufacturer ID you got in the previous step (ctrl-f is your friend) and click the name. In my example, 11AB leads me to Marvell Semiconductor.
  9. Now you have a list of known devices from that manufacturer. Again, find your device by searching for the device ID. My example brings up this:
    Chip Number: 88E8055
    Chip Description: Marvell Yukon PCI E Gigabit
  10. Now the device is identified. I can now go to the manufacturer’s homepage and try to find a driver.

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