What steps do you take to find missing mystery drivers?

I.e. You have new machine, and after installing a new OS, the audio or video or memory card reader doesn't work. How do you find the correct drivers?

5 Answers 5


The PCI vendor and device identification information, each of which are two-byte identifiers, will often return useful information if popped into a search engine.

The Windows driver manager interface will show you many interesting details about your hardware in the 'Details' screen of a Properties window. Among these are 'Hardware Ids', which is where the VEN_XXXX and DEV_YYYY values can be found.

On Linux, you can use lspci -nn, while on FreeBSD, pciconf -lv is your friend.


For Windows: you can use "EVEREST" to fetch this information automatically. It also often suggests URLs to visit for drivers :)


Usually the main board (motherboard) comes with a driver disc that has all the important on-board drivers. If not, open the case, look for the main board make and model on the board itself, visit the manufacturer web site, and download.

For external peripherals, same procedure. Get the make and model, then visit manufacturer web site or Google for drivers.

This question should probably be moved to superuser.com later.


I often boot a Linux disk (RIP, Rescue Is Possible, is one of my favorites for this) and run dmesg, lspci, lshw, and hwinfo, and from that use Google to track down a vendor and/or specific model driver information.

I think the newer versions (9.3 is out now, as I recall) have a boot menu option to run hardware tests, that might help too.

If you get a copy of the Ultimate Boot CD there is a few hardware identification tools on that to give clues for finding drivers.


This may not help if you're installing an upgraded OS that the original drivers don't work for. But...

Many PC manufacturers allow you to download the drivers that came with the machine even years after your purchase.

If it's a Dell go to dell.com and enter the "Service Tag" number for the machine.

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