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Chapter 3. Troubleshooting Storage Devic... > Troubleshooting a PC Card/CardBus Dr...

Troubleshooting a PC Card/CardBus Drive

PC Cards (also called PCMCIA cards) provide a wide variety of I/O services to portable computers. Some external drives can be connected to a PC Card or CardBus (32-bit PC Card) interface. A PC Card or CardBus interface drive is useless, however, if any of the following problems are lurking about:

  • The PC Card is not completely inserted.

  • PC Card handlers are not installed in the operating system.

  • The drive attached to the PC Card is not connected to a power source (if it requires external power) or turned on. Although most PC Card devices are powered by the PC Card slot, some devices that can be connected to multiple interface types have an on/off switch.

If a PC Card is not completely inserted into the PC Card slot, you need to eject it and slide it in all the way. When it is installed, you should see a PC Card icon appear in the Windows system tray, by default, at the bottom of the screen (next to the clock). Windows XP refers to this icon as the Safely Remove Hardware icon.

If you have fully inserted a PC Card into the PC Card slot and it is not recognized, there are three possible reasons:

  • Windows cannot locate drivers for the PC Card.

  • The PC Card configuration software used by Windows is not loaded.

  • The PC Card configuration software used by Windows might have a problem.

Open the Device Manager and verify that the PC Card or CardBus(PCMCIA) controller is available and working properly. If the controller is visible but doesn't report any problems, look for the icon for the device you installed. If it was recognized as a PC Card or CardBus device, it will be listed in the PCMCIA category in Device Manager. If you don't see the device listed in the PCMCIA category, it might be listed in the Other Devices category (see Figure 3.16). Open the device's properties sheet to verify that the device is installed in the PCMCIA slot. Follow the troubleshooting instructions listed; normally, you will need to install the correct driver for the device to enable Windows to recognize it.

Figure 3.16. An unrecognized device installed in a PCMCIA (PC Card or CardBus) slot.


For more information on using the Solution button shown in Figure 3.16, see “Solving Resource Conflicts with Device Manager,” Chapter 2, p. 102.


If the controller is not visible, run Add New Hardware and install or troubleshoot it. A PC Card or CardBus controller is a very resource-hungry beast, using an IRQ, several memory ranges, and several I/O port address ranges. However, it should work correctly unless its drivers have been corrupted or another device is using one or more of the same memory or I/O port address ranges. If the controller is displayed but has problems, use the status listed in the controller's properties sheet to determine the problem and solve it.

See “Using the Device Manager,” Chapter 2, p. 100, for details on troubleshooting hardware devices.


See “Hardware Resources,” Chapter 1, p. 58, for details on how IRQs, I/O port addresses, and memory addresses are used by hardware.


If the drive attached to the PC Card is not connected to a power source (if it has one) or turned on, the card might be recognized, but the drive will not work. Turn the drive on. If the drive won't power up, check the power connection to the drive.

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