Archive for May 19th, 2011

How to get Vendor and Device IDs in Windows to find missing drivers

If you’re missing a driver in Windows, it can be extremely frustrating if the manufacturer doesn’t have one listed on their website. That leaves you to go find it yourself on the Internet.

The key to getting working drivers revolves not around matching them to the manufacturer, but matching them to the device IDs. Believe it or not, Dell drivers will run the same device on a Toshiba, on an HP, etc as long as the device IDs on the hardware match that on the driver. You can even go directly to the chipset manufacturer’s (Realtek, Atheros, Intel, etc) website to get drivers from them.

So how do you find the device IDs?

Go to Device manager, then find a device with a yellow exclamation mark (missing driver) and double-click it.

Go to the details tab. The drop-down should read “Device Instance ID”

Below it, read the ID and take the following bold bits from it:

pciven_10ec&dev_8136&subsys_ff661179&rev_024&38f101ee&0&00e0

In this case, the Vendor ID is 10EC and the Device ID is 8136. A common representation of this is the Vendor ID and the Device ID seperated by a colon or hyphen, such as 10EC:8136 or 10EC-8136. Running these through your favorite search engine should turn up drivers fairly quickly. If nothing else, it will help you find the full name of the device and help you find it on the chipset manufacturer’s website.

Another thing to note is the subsystem. That’s the part after the SUBSYS parameter. Windows shows it as 8 hex characters (in this case ff661179 but you can also find it represented as ff66:1179. This may be important in driver matching as well.

Be wary though — some sketchy download sites will trick you into giving away personal information (email address, cell phone number, etc) or ask that you install software (toolbar, driver installer) in order to download drivers from them. Avoid these scams!

Please feel free to comment!

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Don’t just check your tires, check your tire gauge

Lately the dramatic weather and temperature changes have caused my low tire pressure (TPMS) light on my car to come on every few days.

Even though I stop and check the tires, and adjust them all to the correct tire pressure, the light doesn’t always go off right away, or it will go off and then come back on shortly after. I actually thought I had a malfunctioning sensor for a while, because I would double-check the air in all the tires, then start driving and the light would stay on.

Yesterday I stopped and thought like a technician: If I readjust the tire pressure and the TPMS light is still on, one of two things are happening: Either my tire gauge is wrong, or the TPMS sensor is bad. Tire gauges are cheap, so eliminate that first.

I use one of those stick-type tire pressure gauges to check my tire pressure, the kind you find at the gas station for about $5 or so. I went to Wal-Mart and picked up a digital pressure gauge for about $6. Then I checked a single tire using both gauges, twice, alternating gauges.

The result was clear: My gauge was off.

the “stick” tire pressure gauge consistently measured 3-4 PSI higher than the digital gauge. I re-inflated the tires according to the digital gauge and the light went off immediately. The tires were actually properly inflated now. Since I already suspected the gauge was bad, this confirmed it rather quickly, and means that I was short 3-4 PSI per tire when I thought they were properly inflated. That’s why the TPMS light was always coming on — the tires weren’t actually properly inflated. Rather, they were a few pounds short.

The gauges are cheap enough, you’re probably good to buy a new one between summer and winter and re-check your tires, especially if your TPMS light is on, or you’re having trouble maintaining correct tire pressure — it could just be your gauge.

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