The Windows 8 Device Manager: The Hardware Tool - dummies

The Windows 8 Device Manager: The Hardware Tool

By Mark L. Chambers

The Windows 8 Device Manager is essentially a status window that displays the operating status of each of the hardware devices in your PC as well as the peripherals connected to it. With one glance, you can see any hardware device that Windows has marked as a troublemaker, and locating trouble is the first step in solving it.

Now, don’t panic at the idea of rooting around in your hardware. In fact, the idea of a hardware conflict is easy to understand. Just about every hardware device in your PC needs a unique pathway to be able to communicate with the CPU and other devices.

For instance, your Ethernet network card must be able to send and receive data to and from the Internet without getting spurious stuff that’s meant for your printer. (Imagine the fun you would have if your hard drive and your DVD-ROM drive kept exchanging data by accident. Harrumph.)

Luckily, Windows 8 does an excellent job of allocating hardware resources and routing data betwixt everything, especially if you’re using Universal Serial Bus (USB) and other peripherals. However, sharing problems still crop up from time to time with older hardware that might not have up-to-date drivers. (A driver is a program that tells Windows 8 how to communicate with and use a specific hardware device.)

Device Manager can not only display which devices are causing trouble, but also help you update the drivers for that device.

Follow these steps to use Device Manager in Windows 8:

  1. Display the Charms bar and click the Search icon, and then click the Settings button and type Device Manager into the Search box.

  2. Click the Device Manager button that appears in the Search results pane to open the Device Manager window.

    If a device in the Device Manager window is marked with a yellow exclamation point or a red check mark, it might be in conflict with another device, which in turn might also be marked by a yellow exclamation point.

    Disabling a device (in effect, turning it off temporarily) marks that device with a gray arrow pointing down — PC techs sometimes disable devices while troubleshooting to help them track down a problem. To enable a device again within Device Manager, right-click it and choose Enable from the menu that appears.


    If nothing is flagged, skip to Step 5 — Windows 8 has given your hardware the all-clear!

    You might also find helpful information in the Device Status display:

    • If a Driver tab appears in the device’s Properties dialog box: Try updating your system with the latest driver for the device. (Go to Step 4.) This strategy often fixes things right away.

    • If no Driver tab exists: Scurry on to Step 5.

  3. To check for possible conflicts with a particular piece of hardware, right-click the marked device and then choose Properties from the pop-up menu that appears to display its settings.


  4. Click the Driver tab and then click the Update Driver button to run the Update Driver Software Wizard.

    The wizard leads you through the process of checking for a new driver online or from a CD-ROM supplied by the manufacturer.

    Don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s website for drivers.

  5. Click OK to return to the Device Manager dialog box and then click the Close button in the Device Manager window.

    If you made changes, Windows 8 prompts you for confirmation before rebooting your PC.