Windows Device Manager is a small but useful application for Windows device management. It is a Windows operating system component and was first introduced in Windows 95. The purpose of the Device Manager is elementary—manage all the hardware on a computer that Windows knows of. Updating hardware device drivers is one of its main tasks.
This article explores how the Device Manager plays an important role in Windows device management.
What is Windows Device Manager?
Device Manager is a Control Panel applet in Microsoft Windows that you can use to view and control the hardware connected to the computer. It manages all hardware devices installed on a computer, such as hard drives, sound cards, USB devices, keyboards, mouses, and so on.
The Device Manager allows you to –
- Change hardware configuration options; enable/disable hardware
- Retrieve and install device drivers
- Identify any discord between hardware devices
- View the property of each hardware device
Why is Windows Device Manager Important?
Troubleshoot Devices – Device Manager helps troubleshoot devices when they malfunction. In certain versions of Windows OS, when there is a problem with any of the devices, a yellow exclamation mark indicates that Windows has identified an error. If you are not sure how to resolve it, locate the error code and follow the recommended resolutions for that error code. For example –
Code 29 – The device is disabled 
Full Error Message
This device is disabled because the firmware of the device did not give it the required resources. (Code 29)
Enable the device in the BIOS of the device. For information about how to make this change, see the hardware documentation or contact your computer’s manufacturer.
Update Drivers – Device drivers are essential software that helps hardware components work smoothly on your system. A computer with a hardware issue probably has a driver-related problem. Regular driver updates fix security and compatibility issues, mend broken code, and even add features to hardware.
Device Manager can look for updated drivers for hardware that connects to the Windows laptop or computer. Once it scans for updates, new drivers will be downloaded and installed automatically. In Windows 10 and 11, automatic updating is the default and easiest method to check for driver updates and installation. Certain device drivers may require a reboot to complete the installation.
Set Privacy Settings – Privacy settings are a way of controlling how organizations can handle personal information online. Companies can use Device Manager to turn off devices to limit the sharing of personal information. For example, hardware such as cameras and laptop microphones need drivers to function, which can be disabled with the Device Manager.
How to Use Windows Device Manager
Opening Device Manager
In any version of Windows, Device Manager can be opened using the command prompt with its run command “devmgmt.msc”. To launch the Device Manager, press the Windows + R keys to open a Run dialog box. Type the command and press Enter.
Alternatively, you can right-click the Windows Start button on the taskbar and then click Device Manager. On Windows 10 laptops or computers, simply type ‘Device Manager’ and select from the menu. You will see a list of installed hardware.
Viewing the Status of a Device
You can click on the devices to check for any issues. For example, In Windows 10, you may see a yellow exclamation mark against the hardware. It indicates that the system has encountered a problem with that particular piece of hardware.
A black arrow next to a device means that the hardware is disabled. It could be because the device was disabled manually or Windows hasn’t allocated any system resources to be used by the hardware.
If the operating system cannot talk with the hardware device, follow these steps:
- Note the error code
- Device manager may suggest a solution. Try the suggestion
- Share the code with the laptop manufacturer
- Some hardware devices have a ‘Check for Solutions’ button that lets you submit a Windows Error Report to Microsoft
Windows Device Manager is Great, But…
In a business environment, the Device Manager plays a limited role. For instance, if employees cannot use their laptops because of a disabled or external driver, they may take it upon themselves to fix the issue by downloading and installing unsanctioned software.
Several download sites offer files pretending to be the drivers which host malware. Other sites bundle drivers with adware. They try to trick users into installing unwanted software to gain access to the system and connected networks.
If unchecked, unmanaged laptops and computers are a high-security risk for large organizations. Adopting a mobile device management (MDM) solution helps IT restrict the installation of unsanctioned drivers. With MDM, IT admins can apply policies and controls on installing unauthorized software on thousands of devices.
To know how you can effortlessly manage your Windows devices, get a free 14-day trial.