Using the Windows Server 2003 Computer Management Console's Device Manager snap-in

The Device Manager is a hidden gem included as a snap-in to the Computer Management Console in Windows Server 2003 and can help with devices large and small, from internal cards to external USB devices.

Windows Server 2003 supports devices large and small, both as internal cards and external USB devices, which can be cumbersome for admins. Fortunately, Device Manager is included as a snap-in to the Computer Management Console. I view Device Manager as one of the hidden gems in Windows Server 2003 system maintenance.

To access Device Manager, open the Computer Management Console and select the Device Manager object in the left pane. This will display the Device Manager in the right pane.

Once it's open, Device Manager displays a list of the categories of devices detected in the local system. Expanding these categories will show each device of this type installed, both internal and external. (Note: If a device fits multiple categories, its name will appear in all relevant categories. For instance, a USB CD-ROM drive will appear in the USB devices category, as well as the CD/DVD ROM device category.)

You can also get to Device Manager from the system applet in Control Panel, grouped in Computer Management for ease of use.

Using Device Manager

If you expand a device's category in the right pane, you will see a list of all of the devices in the category. Devices that are experiencing problems will have a yellow exclamation point on them. Devices that are disabled will typically appear with a red x in Device Manager.

To view a device's Properties, expand its Category, right-click the device in the list, and then select Properties. This will display the Properties dialog box for the device. These tabs are available:

  • General: Contains a description of the device and displays any issues with the device. This tab is useful for identifying a problem between Windows Server 2003 and the device by showing a description of the error message -- regardless of whether it concerns communication or drivers.
  • Driver: Displays the options available for managing device drivers.
  • Resources: Displays the resource usage information for the device.

By using the Driver tab, you can perform the following actions against the device's driver:

  • Driver Details: View the details of the driver, including the publisher and installation date.
  • Update Driver: Update the existing device driver to a newer version.
  • Rollback Driver: Undo a driver update, rolling back to the previously installed version.
  • Uninstall Driver: Completely remove a device driver from the system.

I will look at each of the processes for updating, rolling back, and uninstalling a driver in more detail in upcoming tips.

For more information on snap-ins: Managing a Windows Server 2003 system with the Computer Management Console, Using the Windows Server 2003 Computer Management Console Event Viewer snap-in, Using the Computer Management Console’s Shared Folders snap-in, and Using the Computer Management Console’s Local Users and Groups snap-in in Windows Server 2003.

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