What to do when a device isn't installed properly

[This information is preliminary and subject to change.]

When you connect a new device to your computer, Windows automatically tries to install it for you and will notify you if a driver for the device can't be found. There are several things you can try if this happens:

Make sure your computer is connected to the Internet and automatic updating is turned on

Your computer must be connected to the Internet for Windows to be able to search online for a device driver. To see if your computer is connected to the Internet, open your web browser and try accessing a website. If you're temporarily disconnected, such as when you're traveling with a laptop, wait until you're online again, and then try reinstalling your device.

Windows can't check for the latest drivers unless automatic updating is turned on. Most people turn on automatic updating the first time they use Windows, but if you're not sure you did, you should check to make sure it's turned on. Be sure to select the option to include recommended updates, or Windows will install important updates only. Important updates provide significant benefits, such as improved security and reliability, but recommended updates might include drivers for some of your devices.

Manually check for drivers using Windows Update

If you didn't have automatic updating turned on, or you weren't connected to the Internet when you connected a new device to your computer, you should check to see if Windows can now find a driver for your device. Even if your computer is always connected to the Internet, you should still check Windows Updates for optional updates if some of your hardware isn't working properly. Optional updates often contain new driver updates. Windows Update does not install optional updates automatically, but it will notify you when it finds some and let you choose whether to install them.

To check Windows Update for drivers

  1. Click to open Windows Update.

  2. In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your computer.

  3. If there are any available updates, click the link in the box under Windows Update to see more information about each update. Each type of update might include drivers.

  4. On the Select the updates you want to install page, look for updates for your hardware devices, select the check box for each driver that you want to install, and then click OK. There might not be any driver updates available.

  5. On the Windows Update page, click Install updates Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation..



    • Windows Update tells you if an update is important, recommended, or optional.

    • Some updates require you to restart your computer.

    • Windows Update will tell you if the updates were successfully installed.

Install software for the device

If Windows Update can't find a driver for your device, go to the Windows Compatibility Center website, which lists thousands of devices, and has direct links to driver downloads. Also, try checking the manufacturer's website for a driver or other software for the device. If your device came with a disc, that disc might contain software needed to make your device work properly, but first check the manufacturer's website for the latest software and drivers.

If you don't find any new software or drivers for your device on the manufacturer's website, try inserting the disc that came with the device, and then follow the instructions for installing the software.



Many drivers come with software that installs the driver for you (often called a self-installing package), but you might have to install some drivers manually as well.

Manually add older hardware that doesn't support Plug and Play

If you have an older piece of hardware or a device that doesn't support Plug and Play, Windows won't automatically recognize it when you connect the hardware or device to your computer. You can try to manually add it to your computer using the Add Hardware Wizard.



The Add Hardware Wizard is recommended only for advanced users.

Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type run, and then, in the list of results, click Run.
  2. In the Run dialog box, type hdwwiz, and then click OK.

  3. Follow the instructions in the wizard, and then click Next.

Run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter

If your computer is having problems with a recently installed device or other hardware, try using the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter to fix the problem. It checks for common issues and makes sure that any new device or hardware attached to your computer was installed correctly.

Click to open the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter.Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.



To make sure you have the most up-to-date troubleshooters from the Windows Online Troubleshooting Service, your computer should be connected to the Internet.

If your device still doesn't work properly after trying these suggestions, a driver might not be available for your device. In this case, try contacting the device manufacturer.