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How to fix unknown device in Device Manager on Windows 10

The device manage on Windows 10 lists every single hardware device that is connected to your system. This includes both internal and portable devices, and even takes into account the various fans installed on your system to keep it cool when it’s running. Portable devices come and go when they’re connected/disconnected but they are nevertheless still listed there. If you’ve connected a new device and it isn’t working properly, Device Manager is a good place to start looking for what might be wrong. If you see it labeled as an unknown device in Device Manager then you have a driver problem. Here’s how you can fix it.

Basic troubleshooting

You might be tired of hearing this but, if a device shows up as an unknown device, you should try restarting your system. On system restart, Windows 10 will once again detect any new hardware that’s connected to the system and look for drivers for it. If that doesn’t work, you should remove the device and connect it again. If you’re connecting it via a USB port, try using a different port.

Driver Update

As mentioned earlier, this is a driver problem. For whatever reason, Windows 10 didn’t install drivers for the device. This may be a simple error where it was unable to find drivers or it wasn’t able to correctly identify a device.

Regardless, to fix the problem, open Device Manager and right-click the unknown device. From the context menu, select Update drive and you will see the following window. Select the ‘Search automatically for updated driver software’ option. This should, in most cases do the trick.

Proprietary drivers

In some cases, particularly when you’re dealing with printers, the generic drivers that Windows 10 finds may not be enough. Fortunately, printers that require proprietary drivers make them easily available on their manufacturer’s websites. Visit the website for the manufacturer of your ‘unknown device’ and download any recommended drivers. Install them like you would any app, restart your system, and your device should be working.

Additional apps

It is rare for Windows 10 to not be able to find drivers for a device however, in some cases, Windows 10 will only find one or two drivers whereas the device might need additional apps to be installed to work perfectly. This is most commonly seen with iPhones that require iTunes to be installed or with older Android phones that require ADB tools to be installed or even the Android SDK to be installed.

If you’re having a similar problem, check for any additional apps that are needed to manage the device. These apps won’t be listed as drivers since they aren’t drivers.

Hardware problems

If you a device was working perfectly and is suddenly showing up as an unknown device, there’s a chance you have a hardware problem. This may be something as simple as a cable that’s come loose for an internal device or a one that is not working correctly e.g., data cables. If it’s an external device, try using a different cable to connect it. If it’s an internal device, and you’ve exhausted all other options, have your system checked out by a professional.

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