Windows

How do I . . . manage Windows devices with Device Remover?

The built-in Microsoft Windows tools for assessing the condition of attached USB devices are barely adequate. This is where a tool like Device Remover can fill in the gaps. Jack Wallen shows you how it works.

One of the weakest aspects of the Windows operating system is the built-in device management system. With the default tool, it can be a real chore to get really detailed information about the hardware you have on your system. For example, if you plug in a USB flash drive, there's little insight you can gain about it outside of basic information (type and name of drive as well as contents of the drive). If you wind up having to troubleshoot that drive, you're going to need much more information.

There are a lot of alternative tools for every function of the Windows operating system, but one tool goes far and beyond the standard built-in application. Device Remover is a piece of freeware that replaces the built-in Device Manager tools found in Windows. And Device Remover is compatible with every version of Microsoft Windows since Windows XP (including Windows 7).

(Editor's note: The developer has confirmed that Device Remover is also compatible with Windows 2000.)

With Device Remover you can:

  • Easily remove devices on the fly
  • View detailed information about devices
  • Troubleshoot devices
  • Mass edit multiple devices
  • Manage on-the-fly drivers, registry entries, and file backup
  • Detect new hardware

At first look, Device Remover can be intimidating. It's not really. Although you can see more information than you will probably ever need, you don't have to bother with such low-level information to make Device Remover worth using.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Let's take a look and see how Device Remover can be installed and used.

Getting and installing

As with any Windows application, installing Device Remover is simple. Download Device Remover either the .exe or the .zip file from the download section. NOTE: Due to bandwidth limits the developer asks that you download the .zip version.

(Editor's note: The developer has recently added several more download mirrors: Standalone Main File, Full Installer, Zipped Full Installer.)

Once you have the file on your drive, unzip it with your favorite decompression package (mine is 7zip) and double-click on the resulting .exe file. The installation is simple and will end with a new submenu in your Start menu called Device Remover.

In that submenu you will find:

  • Device Remover: The executable for the application
  • Device Remover Cleanup: This tool is used to clean up any mess left behind in case Device Remover is accidentally closed.
  • Device Remover Startup Helper: This is how you configure Device Remover Startup options
  • Uninstall: Remove Device Remover
  • View log files recorded from within a viewer

You are now ready to run Device Remover.

Basic usage

By default, when you start Device Remover the Debug Console will open. When the Debug Console is open and displayed on your desktop it will remain on top of all windows (Figure A).

Figure A

You will see more information than you will ever need about a device from this window.

If you don't need the debugging console, you can get rid of it from the options window (more on that later).

Once you get beyond the Debugging Console, you will see the main window for Device Remover (Figure B).

Figure B

This is the primary user interface for Device Remover.

At first glance you might think Device Remover is a rather complex tool:

  • Device Tree
  • Selected Device Properties
  • Application Messages
  • Command line
  • Devices List
  • Drivers and Services
  • Memory Loaded Drivers
  • System Processes and Handles
  • Device Events
  • Print Device Tree
  • Search for Device
  • Search for Service/Driver
  • Reload Devices Tree

As the name implies, the primary reason you would want to use Device Remover is for adding and removing devices from your Windows machine. Let's see exactly how that works.

Adding removing USB flash drive

In Figure C you can see that the listing of drives does not include the Sandisk Cruzer that I am about to insert.

Figure C

If you look at the log you can see that I recently removed the Cruzer drive.
Now I will insert the drive and click the Reload Devices Tree, and the Cruzer will be listed in the Disk Drive Tree, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

The tree listing doesn't automatically refresh by default.

In order to see the Devices Tree listing auto update upon removal or addition of a Device, click on the View menu and check Update Devices List on Device Change. To remove this same device, select the device and click Remove Selected.

Viewing hidden or nonpresent devices

There are times that you want to see hidden devices or devices that are not currently present on your system. Device Remover allows for this behavior. The option to show hidden or detached devices is found in the Device Remover Display Mode submenu of the View menu in the Device Remover Tool bar. To see hidden devices, click on the Device Remover Display Mode submenu and check Show Only Hidden/Detached Devices. When you check this, the Devices Listing tree will change, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

In this view you can see how much information a mouse-over gives you on a particular device.

Obviously these are not devices you are going to want to remove. This feature is best used for gaining information about a device on your machine. In Figure D you are seeing information about the Filter Manager. You can find information there or you can check out the Selected Device Properties Window.

Creating services and drivers

An interesting feature with Device Remover is the ability to create a service or driver. To do this, click on the Drivers and Services tab and then click the Create Services button that will appear in this tab. When you click this button, a new window will appear (Figure F). Make sure you know exactly what you are doing when creating a service. This feature is not for the faint of heart as it can create instability and decrease performance and system security.

Figure F

This is a feature that must be used with caution as it can effect stability, performance, and security of your system should a device or driver be created improperly.

With the service creation you can actually create kernel-level services and drivers. Again I will warn: USE WITH CAUTION.

Searching

One of the features I use the most with this tool is the search feature. When trying to scan through the enormous amount of drivers and driver files on a Window machine, it helps to be able to search. With Device Remover you can actually search for a device or a driver. Say you need to get information about the USBSTOR driver. Click on the Search for Service/Driver button, enter "USB" (no quotes) in the text field, and hit the Find button. The results (shown in Figure G) will give you plenty of information about this driver/service.

Figure G

You can get even more information by hovering your mouse over the entry in the listing window.

Final thoughts

We have only scratched the surface of what this tool can do. Once you start using Device Remover you will find more and more uses and more and more reasons for it to become your default device manager.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

32 comments
ofergal
ofergal

What about 64 bit? when will you have 64 bit option

damon.mac88
damon.mac88

Read the article and used the application as well. First thing i want to say is that it has more potential than the default device manager, Provides with a lot of information and search facility. But i was wondering is that much of information useful, most of the times you may just want to disable or uninstall a device and the default device manager will do. But then again its a Standalone utility and for those who want indepth analysis, At last i want to say it is for Advanced users. Novice may get caught up in the interface.

William R Olsen
William R Olsen

In the article, you indicate that this "replaces" the built-in Device Manager tools. Does this actually replace them, or would you simply use it "in-lieu of" the built-in tools? If it does replace, what impact might this have on future patches from Microsoft?

William R Olsen
William R Olsen

In the article, you indicate that this "replaces" the built-in Device Manager tools. Does this actually replace them, or would you simply use it "in-lieu" of the built-in tools? If it does replace, what impact might this have on future patches from Microsoft?

William R Olsen
William R Olsen

In the article, you indicate that this "replaces" the built-in Device Manager tools. Does this actually replace them, or would you simply use it in-lieu" of the built-in tools? If it does replace, what impact might this have on future patches from Microsoft?

Data Ninja
Data Ninja

For instance, when you replace or remove a hard drive the system will retain 2 items in the devices list (if viewing hidden items): 1. Under "Disk Drives" you will find the Model of the HDD greyed out. 2. Under "Storage Volumes" (IIRC) you will find a greyed out "generic" device. The problem is that you don't know which greyed out generic device is related to the HDD, as often there will be multiple instances of said device due to flashdrives, cameras, phones or other USB/storage devices that aren't connected. So does Device Remover clean up both items when you remove the HDD device or do you still have to manually select the generic device as well?

watsonrh
watsonrh

The PDF download link does not work for Thunderbird - loops back to article link. Happened before on TechR.

fac123
fac123

This is great information, thanks!

keremg
keremg

Hi, i am the Developer of Device Remover and i am very gald that you like the software. Currently i experience a tremendous hit amount of download attempts, so the server is a little overloaded. The next days i'll try to post some links (on my site) to mirror system with much more speed. In the meantime use these links that offer a fast and reliable download of the files. In fact you only need the DeviceRemover.exe since the application will unpack everything from its memory on demand. It also can run prefectly from USB Pen Drives: [Zipped DR Standalone Main File (if you dont need uninstall support)] http://www.pro-it-education.de/software/deviceremover/DeviceRemover.exe.zip [Full Installer] http://www.pro-it-education.de/software/deviceremover/DeviceRemoverSetup.exe [Zipped Full Installer] http://www.pro-it-education.de/software/deviceremover/DeviceRemoverSetup.exe.zip In case the DR hangs or fails to start due a hidden and faulty running instance (very rare!) use the DR CleanupApplication to terminate/uninstall running stuff from DR: [DR Cleanup Application] http://www.pro-it-education.de/software/deviceremover/DeviceRemoverCleanup.exe [Zipped DR Cleanup Application] http://www.pro-it-education.de/software/deviceremover/DeviceRemoverCleanup.exe.zip If one of those links does not work, try the other links on the mainpage. They are slow, but they always work: http://www.pro-it-education.de/software/deviceremover Enjoy! Regards Kerem

skipper747
skipper747

The website warns it is slow and it is! Currently the 2.5MB file is estimated to take 2.5 hours. Any chance of Tech Republic hosting it on a server that isn't powered by sloths?

rhmercer
rhmercer

"One of the features I use the most with this tool is the search feature. When trying to scan through the enormous AMOUNT of drivers and driver files on a Window machine,......"! Just how do you go about weighing the drivers? Personally I would have thought there would be an enormous NUMBER of drivers............there is on my machine!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you find the built-in Windows device management tool to be adequate? Do you use a third-party application to enhance your management options? Have you tried Device Remover? What do you think?

keremg
keremg

Hi, if you have a look at the DR website, you will find this under prerequisites: "Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows7 based Operating Systems (32-Bit and 64-Bit)" It has full support for 64 Bit! First Versions only had been build for 32 Bit OS (could successfully be executed with WOW Feature on 64 Bit), but now it inhertently fully supports 64 Bit out of the box. There is only one single executable e.g. like sysinternals process explorer that adjustes itself depending on the Processor Width(32/64Bit), Windows Version and OS environment you are running on. You could perfectly take a 32 Bit Installation and run it on 64 bit and vice versa. In fact you only need the "DeviceRemover.exe" to work. Everything you need will automatically be created on demand out of the applications internal engines. If you are running the installer, it will fully take care of the locations and bit-versions of your OS to install the application in the right directories. You just start the Application and DR will take care of the rest,...and if something is unclear it will ask you what you want to do next ;-) Regards Kerem

mousebooster
mousebooster

The overload of your download server is the best compliment you can receive. ;-)

itsmeray
itsmeray

Downloaded in about 30 seconds. Thanks for the heads up and the hard work.

g01d4
g01d4

And for taking the time to post here.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I had hoped they had placed it on Download.com, but I did not see it.

sfeatherston
sfeatherston

I hope someone can get this hosted on a site that works. I can't even get the download to start. It's frustrating to have a Tech Republic blog that links to a site that does not have TECHnical skills enough to provide some bandwidth. I usually donate to these places but not to someone with a 9600 baud modem. Thanks anyway.

ccarranca
ccarranca

Google-it!! I find and downloaded in seconds via MajorGeeks

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

According to my grammar references, amount has nothing to do with weight when used as a modifier. It does refer to bulk, which is not the same thing. In this case amount and number both have valid arguments and counter-arguments. But since you and everyone who has read the article knew exactly what Jack was saying and was able to process the information, I see no reason to make any change.

wavingrass
wavingrass

Why are all the fonts so tiny? one can hardly read anything. at least 10pt please or some settings because the "cool" tool is user-un-friendly.

William R Olsen
William R Olsen

Thank you. Tried it myself too. Sorry about the multiple posts. Wasn't paying attention to which application had the keyboard focus. Downside to using multiple monitors at times.

gdude
gdude

Google it jeez

keremg
keremg

Hi, sorry for the inconvenience, the (backup) server is totally overloaded. I had to switch over to a very slow system due to provider problems. Check out my post in the comments section on the main article(). There you will find new fast links to a mirror system,... I am really sorry, this is really not my fault here,...nobody likes dead links or slow servers... But for a unknown reason the Servers are down and the technical staff maintaining the systems is also not available. I guess they have some serious trouble there,...i hope i can fix that the next days,... Regards Kerem

jonny5tails
jonny5tails

softpedia has the latest version & takes a couple of seconds to download.

gmfontana
gmfontana

I had no problem to download the FULL version (ZIP file) in less than a minute. Great piece of software, Kerem. I tested it immediatly, many features, good results. Best regards, Gustavo

keremg
keremg

Hi, check out my latest posting here (DOWNLOAD HERE (FAST): Recommended from Developer (Me)) with latest versions on a fast reliable mirror. Regards Kerem

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