USB Devices unrecognized - strange, intermittent problems

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USB Devices unrecognized - strange, intermittent problems

  • I have a brand spanking new Dimension 8400, just set up yesterday. I'm having a problem with the USB ports.

    I initially hooked up two hubs, each with its own power supply, to which were connected two printers, two external hard drives (each with its own power source), and a video capture device. Everything worked fine. Then I attempted to put my USB key into one of the other ports. I got a "one of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it" bubble, and the it showed as an Unknown Device. I tried different ports - same thing. Tried a different device (external DVD burner) in a variety of ports, same thing (both the key and the DVD burner work fine when attached to other computers). Tried connecting another independently powered USB hub to a variety of ports, same thing.

    Then I unhooked one of the hubs and tried again - voila, it worked! But when I plugged the hub back in, no go. So I unplugged the devices from the hub and plugged them directly into the machine - everything seemed to work. But then I unplugged one of the devices so I could run the cable from a different direction, and when I attempted to reconnect it - same exact problem. I tried connecting this device into the single remaining hub, and it worked!

    So clearly there is no problem with particular ports or devices or drivers. The problem is intermittent failure to recognize USB devices, and there doesn't seem to be rhyme or reason to when it happens, though it seems to happen more the more devices I have connected.

    The system is brand new - I took it out of the box yesterday morning. It's running Windows XP Pro.

    Any ideas?
  • spacecat,

    When troubleshooting, avoid the front USB ports. Retest using only the rear USB ports and let me know if there are any changes.

    (Liaison for Desktops, Alienware, Monitors)
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  • I thought that could be a problem, so I did do that already (besides, it's a pain to plug into the front ports - they're not very conveniently placed!).  When the problem first arose initially, I had two hubs plugged into the back ports and I plugged another device into a back port - no front ports at all. 
     
    Then later - much later, after lots of fiddling and tearing-out-of-hair! - I had 5 devices (including one hub, with nothing hooked into the hub) hooked into the back ports, all working and recognized.  Unplugged one (happened to be the video capture device)  to re-run the cable in a less obtrusive way, plugged it back into precisely the same port, and got the error message.  When I unplugged that device and plugged it into the hub, it was recognized, no errors.
     
  • Similar problem with my brand new 8400 as well, which I just received on Monday 1/24/2005. I have an external 80GB Buslink USB 2 drive, which is getting the same errors as SpaceCat. The drive connects fine with my 2.8Ghz Dell Win2K at work and my husband's Latitude notebook. It also worked fine on my old 600Mhz HP until that died a few weeks ago.

    I've tried the suggestions already, and I'm NOT happy right now. The problem is obviously somewhere with the computer, since the drive has been verifed to work on other computers with no problem. I have a large set of files for work that I need to complete this weekend stored on that drive, and I can't get to them.

    -copper6500
  • I seem to have "solved" the problem, but it's a little bit of voodoo.  I contacted Dell tech people (after interminable waits on hold), but the advice they offered was useless - they told me to uncheck "allow windows to turn device off," or whatever, in the Device Manager, but that did nothing at all.  Then they told me to unplug everything from the hub and plug it into the back of the computer - I did this and it worked for a while, but then I added one thing (my USB key!) and everything got squirrely again, one of the hard drives stopped being recognized, etc.  She told me it was a "power problem," which makes no sense to me since I had all the same items plugged into the add-on USB-2 card on my old Dimension 4400.  There was no rhyme or reason that I could discern for why things would or wouldn't be recognized.   I spent all day poking around on the web trying to find solutions but found nothing conclusive.

    Eventually I did two things: First, I uninstalled every USB device, all the root hubs, everything, shown in the Device Manager and then rebooted, which caused them to be reinstalled. Second, I replaced my hub with a Belkin "TetraHub," which is advertised as "guaranteeing 12 mbps bandwidth to each port" (though that should only matter for USB 1.1) - anyway, it's supposed to be higher quality.

    I'm not sure which of these did the trick, but everything's working smoothly now - I can plug additional devices in and out to any of the ports on the front or back of the computer or on the hub with no problem.  But I still don't really understand what the issue was, and I'm angry that no one from Dell could offer me the slightest bit of help (or even exhibit the slightest bit of understanding of the problem).  I even considered installing a separate USB card for a while - I think poor quality Dell components might be at least partly to blame.

    Though everything seems to be working now, I'm quite unhappy about this.  A brand-new high-end computer should *not* be giving me this kind of problem with USB ports with only 5 devices attached, three of them self-powered!  This is my third Dell purchase but quite probably my last;  I've had way more problems than I should have, and the much-touted service is mediocre - I routinely waited on hold for a half hour or more (each time with the announcement that the delays were "unusually" long - if they're always long it's not unusual!) to speak to someone who has no real understanding of the technical issues, but instead seems simply to be reading from a manual.  Highly disappointing.  It's just not worth it to save a few bucks; next time I'm going with one of the smaller companies that have people who can actually help with technical issues.

    (Sorry for the vent; my frustration level with Dell, over this and a variety of other issues, has reached a boiling point).

  • Thanks for the reply -- I'll have to pull mine out and see what's plugged in. (My husband set the new computer up, when usually I do it :-) I did try uninstalling all the USB devices through the Device Manager, and restarting already. The only USB item plugged in that didn't come with the computer is the external drive, which also has a separate power supply. Oh, wait -- I kept my multi-media keyboard from my HP, and am using that... hmm... maybe I'll swap out the plain keyboard I got with the new computer and see if that helps. I had an older USB hub plugged in (1.1), but since I didn't have anything that needed to be plugged into that, I'll make sure that's completely disconnected.

    You're right, though. Two people with brand new, identical model computers should not be experiencing this type of problem. It certinaly indicates either a driver or a hardware problem in this particular model -- perhaps there were substandard parts used on the assembly line in the past week?!

    I'm even googling right now to see if anyone has a USB to Firewire adapter, wondering if *that* would solve the problem. Meanwhile, I'm going to continue to try everything on this and see if I can get it working. Thanks!
  • I uninstalled all other external USB devices from the back of the computer. We had a multimedia keyboard and two USB optical mice plugged in -- I'm right-handed, husband is left-handed, so we've always had two mice plugged in to keep from having to switch sides all the time. It's never been a problem UNTIL NOW.

    Deleted all USB drivers from the Device Manager. Connected the serial keyboard and mouse that came with the system, and then plugged the external USB drive into a different USB port on the back, and then restarted.

    Unsurprisingly, based on what you said earlier, it now recognized the drive *and* I was able to access files on it. While I'm happy to have gotten the drive to work, I think it's pretty lousy that this problem exists at all in a $1K+ computer.

    DELL -- I hope you're working on a solution for this, because what both SpaceCat and I have shown is that it's the COMPUTER, USB ports, and/or DRIVERS, and NOT the peripherals that are the problem.

    Copper6500