Most of the time, when you plug something like a printer or an external hard drive into your computer, it will work straightaway. So, it’s frustrating when Windows 7 refuses to recognise a device, or the device itself won’t work the way it should.
Once you’ve tried restarting the device and the computer, use Windows’ Device Manager to track down and fix the problem.
Located in the Windows Control Panel, Device Manager is a tool that lets you manage and troubleshoot both your computer’s internal components and devices connected to your PC. If a Windows device isn’t working properly, Device Manager will flag the problem with an error code.
Open the Device Manager
In Windows 7 – click the Start button, then click Control Panel. In the Control Panel, click Hardware and Sound. In the window that appears, Device Manager is located under the Devices and Printers section. Click Device Manager to launch it.
In Windows 8 – move your mouse cursor to the bottom-left of the screen and right-click the thumbnail image that appears. From the pop-up menu, click Device Manager.
In Windows 10 – type device manager in the search window (bottom-left by the Start menu), then click Device Manager.
Check devices are working properly
1. Click the arrow next to each device category to reveal individual hardware components, such as external hard drives
2. Double-click an item to reveal a Properties window
3. If everything’s running OK, you'll see the message ‘This device is working properly’ under the Device status
Identify and fix problematic devices
Problem hardware appears in Device Manager with a small warning icon. A down-pointing arrow symbolises that a device has been disabled.
1. Double-click the device and then click Enable Device to correct this
If there’s a yellow exclamation mark next to a device or it is listed as ‘Unknown Device’, this usually means that the device driver hasn’t installed correctly.
2. Double-click the device, click on Reinstall Driver and follow the on-screen instructions
4. If you’re unsure, select Ask me every time, and an AutoPlay window will appear every time you insert the media or device, allowing you to choose an action from the list. Click Save