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USB Power issues

Posted by Dave Smith On 2/05/2007 06:06:00 PM 2 comments


I have run into this before, and yet it still amazes me. Last night, one of my machines decided to lock up... no big deal... but then, it refuses to boot up. Keeps getting hung up at the same spot during bootup. So I disconnect all extraneous devices, try various things, such as Safe Boot (still won't boot, even to a command prompt), disabling services in the Recovery Console, nondestructive system restore (locks up)...

Nothing seems to help. Finally, I back up the drive and do a destructive system restore. Still no dice, locks up generally in the same spot during boot. The last message I can get out of it pertains to the AGP video, but video seems to be working... Stumped.

So just for kicks, I grab a Vista cd, and throw that in. Vista install dies at the USB driver with a Blue Screen of Death. Ding! A bell goes off in the back of my mind... The machine had been having some occasional issues with USB devices prior. I try disabling them, and lo and behold, I can perform my system restore and soon enough, I am up and running again. But plug a USB device in, and lockup. Evidently the integrated USB on the motherboard is FRIED.

While I do normally have a few devices plugged in - printer, shoebox drive, bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse, and occasionally a thumb drive and PDA ActiveSync cradle - and the machine also has an integrated memory card reader on USB - so I thought I was smart enough to use a powered hub. I had run into issues in the past (with another machine), where devices refuse to work when too many are plugged in, but this is the first time I have smoked the USB outright. I thought the point of having an external powered hub was supposed to take care of the power demands.

Evidently the engineers have missed something in their design or implementation of USB. 127 devices? I think not. I evidently can't even manage half a dozen, even with a powered hub, without frying componentry. At least I have a PCI USB card floating around to cannibalize...

2 Response for the " USB Power issues "

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