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Chapter 3. Troubleshooting Storage Devices > Troubleshooting a USB Drive

Troubleshooting a USB Drive

If you've used a computer for several years, you're probably astounded at how many different types of devices can be connected to a USB port. It truly is a Universal Serial Bus! Portable hard disks, flash memory drives, and flash memory card readers all find the USB port a popular way to expand storage.

To learn how to diagnose problems with USB 2.0 support, see “Troubleshooting USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed USB) Support,” Chapter 7, p. 418.

However, if your USB ports have problems, USB storage (and any other USB device) will just sit there until you get the ports working again. Here are some of the most common problems with USB ports:

  • USB ports on your computer are disabled; a device connected to a disabled port cannot be detected until the port is enabled.

    To learn how to diagnose resource conflict or driver problems with USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 ports, see “Installing the Right Device Drivers for Your USB Device,” Chapter 7, p. 423, and “Diagnosing Port and Driver Problems with Device Manager,” Chapter 7, p. 416.

  • Your USB 2.0 drive is operating slowly because you have connected it to USB 1.1 ports, or the USB 2.0 ports are not configured properly.

  • The USB data cable is too long or is defective. Use a cable no longer than 5 meters (about 16.5 feet). If you need a longer connection between the drive and the system, you can use a self-powered hub or an active (self-powered) cable.

  • A USB port on the front of the system is not properly connected to the motherboard.

    To learn how to check USB front-panel connectors for proper installation, see “Front Panel Connectors,” Chapter 1, p. 35.

  • A resource conflict exists between the USB port and another device.

  • The drive is not powered on or is not configured for the correct power source. Select AC power if the drive is using an AC adapter, and select DC power if the drive is receiving power from the USB port or the PS/2 keyboard port.

    To learn how to diagnose power problems with USB ports and hubs, see “Troubleshooting USB Hub Power Problems,” Chapter 7, p. 425.

  • You haven't installed the correct drivers for your version of Windows and your drive. You should install drivers included with your drive before connecting your drive to the system.

  • Your drive requires more power than the USB port can provide (see Figure 3.15).

    Figure 3.15. The USB Mass Storage Device (drive) isn't working because it draws more power than a bus-powered hub can provide.

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