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Windows 7 - How to Use the Device Manager

The Device Manager in Windows 7, as with all previous versions of Windows, is the control panel section which allows you to manage all of the hardware devices inside your computer as well as peripheral devices attached to it. Here you can manage drivers and disable devices which you either don't need or are causing trouble. You can also uninstall devices before physically removing them.

Not much has changed in the Device Manager over previous versions of Windows, although those migrating straight from Windows XP might find it a little hard to access at first. Follow the steps below to access and use the Device Manager in Windows 7.

1 – Accessing the Device Manager
Open up the control panel and click "Hardware and Sound." In the top-right corner of the next window, you'll see a link to "Device Manager." Click on it. Note that you will need to have administrator privileges before you can proceed. The Device Manager will appear, listing every hardware component on your computer. Everything is conveniently arranged by category so, if you have any familiarity with computer hardware, you should have no problem finding a specific device.

2 – Disabling Devices
Sometimes, there may be devices on your computer which simply won't work, no matter what driver you install for them. Other devices may just be damaged. Whether it's due to this or a compatibility problem with Windows, you'll probably want to disable the device to prevent any further problems. This will also free up system resources.
You can easily tell whether there is a problem with a device, since it will display a small, triangular yellow icon in the corner with an exclamation mark. If you see a red icon, it means that the driver for the device isn't properly installed. You can normally remedy this by installing an appropriate driver. If, however, there isn't one available, you're better of disabling it. To disable a device, simply right-click on it and click "Disable."

3 – Working with Device Drivers
You can access the driver information for a device by right-clicking on it and selecting "Properties." The window which appears has various tabs allowing you to monitor related hardware resources, change settings and work with the device's drivers. Except for the "Driver" tab, you will usually not need to pay attention to anything else.

The "Driver" tab allows you to see details about the currently installed driver for the device, including the location of all related system files. It will tell you the file version of each driver, the manufacturer and the digital signer. Clicking "Update Driver" will take you to the Windows driver installation wizard where you can choose either to update the driver automatically (if an update is available) or find a specific driver on your computer. Clicking "Uninstall" will allow you to properly uninstall the driver. This is an important step to take before physically removing the device from your computer. For example, if you are replacing your graphics card, you'll want to uninstall the existing driver then remove the hardware from inside your computer before installing the new one.


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