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Chapter 3. Troubleshooting Storage Devices > Troubleshooting IEEE-1394 Drives

Troubleshooting IEEE-1394 Drives

If you're out of space on your built-in hard disk, don't want to struggle with a hard disk upgrade, and want to share a hard disk between two or more PCs, consider an external IEEE-1394 or a USB 2.0 drive. IEEE-1394 and USB 2.0 hard disks offer Plug-and-Play installation, hot-swap capabilities, capacities rivaling desktop drives, and relatively high data-transfer rates. Although these drives are good choices for expanding data capacity (they can hold tens of thousands of digital photos or music downloads!), keep in mind that these drives should not be used as bootable system drives. They are slower than ATA/IDE and SATA drives, and many systems are not designed to boot from an external drive.

However, none of that matters if you have a problem with your drive or with the IEEE-1394 ports on your PC.

Any of the following can spoil the instant “plug it in and it's ready” joy of a fast external hard disk (or any other 1394 device, for that matter):

  • You have a disabled or improperly cabled IEEE-1394 port on your computer.

  • Resource conflict exists between IEEE-1394 port and another device.

  • The drive is not powered on.

  • You haven't installed the correct drivers for your version of Windows and your drive.

To learn how to use the Device Manager to diagnose your ports or other system problems, see “Using the Device Manager,” Chapter 2, p. 100.

Before you connect an IEEE-1394 drive to your system, make sure the port is enabled and supported by your version of Windows. To do this, open the Device Manager and verify that the port is listed and that it is not reporting any problems.

Make sure you have drivers for your drive and version of Windows. You can get them from Windows Update or from the vendor.

Leo Says: Sorting Out the Flavors of IEEE-1394

I don't know whether to be amused or annoyed at how many names there are for IEEE-1394. Properly speaking, the 6-pin or 4-pin IEEE-1394 port we see on most systems is IEEE-1394a, also known to Mac fans as FireWire 400. Sony calls the 4-pin 1394a port an “i.Link” port.

Some new systems and add-on cards support a 9-pin port known as IEEE-1394b, which runs twice as fast (800Mbps versus 400Mbps) as IEEE-1394a. A bilingual 1394b port can connect to 1394a devices with an adapter cable. Oh, did I mention that 1394b is also called FireWire 800?

If you have the appropriate drivers for your 1394-based hard disk and 1394 host adapter but your drive is not recognized, you might be having problems with your system's 1394 ports. See “Troubleshooting IEEE-1394 Ports and Hubs,” Chapter 7, p. 427, for help.

Troubleshooting Other Problems with an IEEE-1394 Drive

If the port is working but the drive is not detected when you attach it to the system, check these issues:

  • If the drive's instructions require you to install driver or configuration software before you attach the drive, disconnect the drive from the system, install the software, and reconnect the drive.

  • Unplug the device cable from the IEEE-1394 port on the computer and reattach it.

  • Make sure the drive is connected to AC power (if it isn't powered by the port) and turned on. Remember that 6-pin 1394a cables and bilingual 1394b ports using 6-pin 1394a adapters can provide power to a device, but a 4-pin DV camcorder or i.Link-style cable can't. See Figure 3.14 for examples of cable connectors.

    Figure 3.14. 1394a and 1394b cables compared.

  • Make sure that the IEEE-1394 cable is attached securely to the drive.

  • If, after you've reconnected the power and IEEE-1394 cables, Windows does not automatically detect the device, run the Add Hardware Wizard. Open the Control Panel through the Start menu, click Add Hardware (called Add New Hardware on some Windows versions), and follow the prompts to detect and install your new drive.

  • Replace the IEEE-1394 cable if the drive still can't be detected and retry.

Don't Run Out of Power with a CardBus IEEE-1394 Card

If you attach devices to an IEEE-1394 CardBus (32-bit PC Card) adapter in a notebook computer, make sure the devices are self-powered or connect an AC adapter to the IEEE-1394 card. The CardBusslot can't provide enough power to support bus-powered IEEE-1394 devices. If your IEEE-1394 CardBus wasn't shipped with an AC adapter, contact the vendor for details about compatible units.

For more details about using the system BIOS setup program to troubleshoot USB devices, see “Using the System BIOS to Solve Problems with USB Devices,” Chapter 7, p. 435.

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