Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Adding hardware, when PnP doesn’t work, Part 2

In yesterday’s article I told you the first step in troubleshooting getting a new device installed. Today I will tell you what to do when that method failed to do the job. You will still need to do the steps listed there — namely, retrieving and downloading the latest device driver from the manufacturer. I advise you to review it before reading this, and in case that article is not visible directly below this one, click here.

Tip of the day: If you have just added a scanner, or printer, or webcam, etc., and for some reason Windows hasn’t successfully detected and installed it, and you have downloaded (and double-clicked on) the download, and you’ve rebooted your machine, and the darned thing still isn’t functioning, do not give up hope. There are a few more things you can try — the first of these is taking advantage of the fact that upon starting up, one of the things Windows does is scan for hardware changes, and if it detects any it launches the Found New Hardware wizard.

The first place we want to go is Device Manager: Start >right-click My Computer >Properties >Hardware tab >Device Manager button (in Vista: Start >right-click Computer >Device Manager [under Tasks, upper left]). A window will open listing your devices by category — the first thing to look for is red “x”s, and yellow “!”, or “?”s.
As you can see on this screen-shot of a Vista system, there are no red or yellow punctuation marks indicating a misconfigured and/or malfunctioning device. There is, however, one device that Vista simply doesn’t recognize — Windows has no idea what is — and so it has labeled it “Other device” and specifically, “unknown device”. Frankly, I have no idea what this may be either…and I treat it as a ‘ghost’. Everything on, and attached to, this machine works as it should. It’s one of those headscratchers. A ghost in my machine.

For the sake of demonstration, lets assume that I have just added a web-cam, and it is not working as it should. The first place to look is “Imaging devices”. If there’s none listed, or a web-cam is not listed, then the device hasn’t even been detected, and you’ll need to read tomorrow’s post (on the Add New Hardware control) to resolve that — assuming you did do yesterday’s steps and the reboot already. If it’s there but misconfigured, it will look something like the image below.

Now, right-click on the device in question and select the third choice, Uninstall. Now unplug the device if it’s cable-connected and then shut off the computer. Wait for a 10-count, and plug it back in, and power up again. If it’s a PCI card, just reboot.

This will cause Windows to think it has discovered a new device, for the very first time, and it will automatically install and configure the device from scratch — only this time you’ll have the manufacturer’s latest drivers available for use during the installation. This second troubleshooting method should do the trick. If not, tune in for tomorrow’s more manual method of installation.

To read Part 1, click here,
and to read the conclusion, click here.

Today’s free link: Just to have a little fun after a troubleshooting session, how about Ben’s Bargains This website is a shopper’s delight, with an emphasis in tech. It aggregates shopping sites with coupons and coupon codes to find amazing deals. I must warn you, it can be addicting.

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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July 12, 2007 - Posted by | add device, advice, computers, device drivers, hardware, how to, PC, Plug and Play, tech, Vista, Windows, XP


  1. Hi

    The plug and play device on my application of vista seems to have malfunctioned…when i add a new usb device it asks to install a driver. this was the not case until i installed a software that caused my computer to crash and i had to restore to last known configurations.

    how can i rectify this situation?


    Comment by Peter | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. Peter–
    There are a few questions I need to ask you before I could give you a “do x, y, and z” answer, and I am available at should you like to troubleshoot. I am concerned by some of your statements.

    However, there’s two things I can suggest first.
    1) If the “found new hardware” only runs once when you plug in the USB device, don’t worry. Windows is re-“recognizing” the device after the recovery made it “forget”.
    2) If each time you plug in the SAME device, Windows “finds” it again. Unplug your USB devices: use Device Manager to Uninstall the driver for your USB Universal Host Controller, and reboot your computer. Windows will reinstall a fresh driver.
    Plug your devices back in and let them be “found” again, and — if the crash cause didn’t do too much damage– that should be it.


    Comment by techpaul | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. Many thanks for this unique blog post, I will probably add this web site to my personal rss feeds, a buddy basically told me relating to this a couple weeks ago. this is the greatest..


    Comment by Vern Digioia | October 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Vern Digioia,
      Thank you for the support.


      Comment by techpaul | October 24, 2010 | Reply

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