To use Device Manager in Windows XP, simply open the Control Panel menu through the Start button. In the Control Panel menu, access Device Manager by going to the Hardware tab under the System sub-menu in the Performance and Maintenance display. The Device Manager program provides the user with information on installed computer hardware and the current configurations. Drivers can also be updated through Device Manager.
The Device Manager was first introduced as an applet in the Control Panel in Windows 95. Since its inception, the applet allows users to identify and control any hardware that is installed or attached to the computer. In the case of a malfunctioning or non-responsive hardware, the Device Manager will highlight the item on a list for the user to easily identify.
Through the Device Manager, users can easily check and update any device drivers that the hardware may need. A user can also disable or enable a particular hardware when necessary or notify Windows to ignore broken or malfunctioning devices. In the case of hardware errors, the Device Manager has an internal coding system that lets users know what kind of error is occurring. For instance, error code 18 means that "drivers for this device must be reinstalled."