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:
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!
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