Review: Unknown Device Identifier
Don Bradbury looks at a system scanning utility from Huntersoft
|Product||Unknown Device Identifier|
|We like||Quick Scanning|
|We don't like||No direct backup/restore|
If you go to the website www.zhangduo.com, then select Freeware at the bottom of the home page, you'll find an 843K free downloadable executable file called Unknown Device Identifier (UDeviceID.exe). Let it install to your PC, perhaps onto the Windows Desktop. You can move it later to its own folder if desired. You can now click on it to run it whenever you have the need to identify any component of your computer system.
Open up any item in the list for further identification, clicking on detail and any other boxes with a + mark against the property of the device. There you'll find the device name, its manufacturer, the PnpID, the device description, the chip vendor, application, OEM vendor and so on as applicable.
Any or all of these you might conceivably need at some point if and when you have to seek a new driver, contact the vendor, identify and report a fault, or what have you. The system scan takes a few seconds, and the report is comprehensive - the shear number of components on a system might surprise you.
Function Key shortcuts in the menus then let you search for drivers via the Internet or contact the appropriate vendor. You can also backup or restore your drivers (which may be considered crucial though you'll need to have a copy of the shareware proggie "My Drivers" installed, also from Huntersoft). You can also print or save the list, get help with using the program, or update it.
Though already in version 4, UDI still has room for development. A Find option would help in the menus to avoid having to trawl the list of devices for specific items for instance and the Help system could perhaps be a little more specific.
UDI reports devices that it knows about from the driver set you have installed at any point, ie the device(s) may not necessarily be in use or plugged in.
Although UDI claims to identify IEEE 1394 Firewire as well as USB 1.1 and 2.0 devices, it may lack specificity in some cases. An external Maxtor USB 2.0 hard drive on the test machine was correctly identified, for example. However, an external Iomega Firewire drive was only reported as shown below without recognising the manufacturer much the same way as Device Manager itself would report:
UDI may in rare cases simply identify a device as "Unknown"; it knows a device is present that it cannot fully identify. Virtually every other thing you do in UDI apart from Detect requires that you are connected to the Internet. Even "About" looks at the website.
Unknown Device Identifier may not be perfect but it is a useful supplement to Windows System Manager nevertheless with more detail concerning chip identification and the manufacturer.
A principal and rather critical aim of the Publisher is to let you backup your present driver set and restore them in the event of a system crash or if they suffer corruption. You need more than this freebie to do that, but "My Drivers" is quite cheap at $15. Of course new drivers are brought out all the time, and UDI can help you find them.