Viewing non-present devices in Windows’s Device Manager

Find out how Windows XP’s Device Manager can help you track down non-present devices, which may still cause problems even though they’re not physically attached to your machine.

When troubleshooting driver problems in Windows XP, one of the first places you may look is Device Manager, which provides detailed information about every piece of installed system hardware. In light of devices such as removable USB drives becoming more and more common, you may need information about devices that are not currently connected; Device Manager recognizes these as non-present devices. Here’s how to get information about these devices:

  1. Go to Start, right-click My Computer, and select Properties.
  2. In the System Properties dialog box, select the Advanced tab and click the Environment Variables button.
  3. In the Environment Variables dialog box, locate the System Variables panel and click New.
  4. In the New System Variable dialog box, type DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES in the Variable Name text box and type 1 in the Variable Value text box.
  5. Click OK twice.
  6. To view the non-present devices, go to Start, right-click My Computer, and select Manage.
  7. Click Device Manager, pull down the View menu, and select Show Hidden Devices.

Note: This tip applies to both Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional.

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