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I am re-installing a computer for a friend (Windows XP SP3), do you get a program that can automatically detect hardware for the system? For example motherboard, graphics card, network card. This would save me time trying to hunt down drivers.

Thank you

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8 Answers 8

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are many software's that claim to do this, though none of them is good and helpful (from my experience with several known programs like Uniblue Driver Detective, Driver Detective etc)

Just make sure to download all of the latest updates from Windows Update, and all of the latest drivers from the manufacturer's sites. This is the most safe and reliable way of drivers installation.

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1  
Thanks Matan, yes I found these programs to never work reliably, and they install bloatware. –  JL. Jul 7 '10 at 10:39

Most, if not all of the devices should have plug-and-play IDs. You should be able to look them up at PCIdatabase.com and from there, determine the make and model of the device. Occasionally you'll get something that eludes identification, but a little bit of deductive reasoning should help you figure it out.

A tool like SIW (System Information for Windows) may also be helpful, I believe it's largely an automated system of identifying things via their plug-and-play IDs.

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Utilities for component identification are many and varied, including those that are part of XP, such as msinfo32.exe. Foe a couple of more comprehensive examples, try these:

SIV

SIW

For detecting unknown devices you can try:

Unknown Device Identifier

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I believe the free Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor will take inventory of all your hardware and create a report.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/downloads/upgrade-advisor

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Run MSINFO32 and do a File - Export, save the text file onto an external drive (eg a flash thumb drive) before formatting the hard disk and reinstalling. Its better to find out what Windows has already discovered than trying to identify it afterwards with no drivers.

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You can try Evrest from Lavalys.

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Of the programs that are useful I find Drive Magician to get the best results but it certainly isn't perfect

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Another take on this is to backup all of the drivers on the PC before you reinstall. As you did not say you have already reinstalled, I hope this is still applicable.

Using something such as DriverMax will make reinstallation a breeze.

After reinstalling Windows all drivers will be back in place in less than 5 minutes - sparing you of searching, inserting disc after disk and losing precious time. The Import Drivers wizard allows you to install all the drivers that you exported earlier. The entire operation might take up to 5-10 minutes.

Just one single computer restart will be required after all drivers are reinstalled!

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