Thursday, December 07, 2006

Send in the replacements

Last week, for no apparent reason, everything connected to my two USB hubs suddenly stopped working. I first noticed this as a notification from my APC PowerChute, which indicated that it was unable to communicate with my UPS unit. I didn't think much of it at first, since this happens once in a while, and typically it would restore the communication after a short time.

It was hours before I noticed that the USB communication between my PC and the UPS unit still hadn't been restored. That's when I noticed that my multi-card-reader wasn't functioning properly, either. Uh-oh. Now I'm into troubleshooting mode.

Reconnect USB power and connection? Check. Alternate between either hub? Check.

I've got a third USB hub that's the exact same model lying around, because a few of the ports on it were apparently broken, so these things do break, but for both hubs to break at the same time? That's just unlikely. So the next thing I checked was the Device Manager. Sure enough, there was a yellow exclamation point next to an "unknown" USB device.

But I had to be sure that the USB hubs aren't the culprit. So I ask to try it on my brother's computer. It works. So the problem is with my system. (By the way, bro, not telling the system to disconnect your USB accessory prior to removal can break the accessory, even if you are running Windows XP--remember my SanDisk SD card when we went to Vegas? The last time it worked was in your Windows XP laptop, then you took it out without using the proper removal procedures, and after that nothing could read the card.)
  • Reinstall driver? Doesn't work.
  • Uninstall, then plug the hub back in? Doesn't work.
  • Uninstall, reboot, install again? Doesn't work.
  • Search Microsoft. Reinstall Service Pack 4 for Windows 2000 (that's when they added USB 2.0 support). Doesn't work.
  • Tried other ways of "installing" the USB driver from Google search. Doesn't work.
  • Went to ASUS' website and downloaded their latest USB driver for my motherboard. Still doesn't work.
My mouse still works, and so does hotsyncing my PDA. Both are connected directly to USB ports on the PC. I tried connecting the multi-card-reader directly to the computer, but it still didn't work. That's when I figured it out--none of my USB 2.0 devices were working. So I disable USB 2.0 support in the BIOS, and Windows detects everything again.

Even so, this is not how I want to run my system. I want to be able to transfer files to and from my memory cards quickly. In a last ditch effort, I ordered a PCI USB 2.0 card, and prayed that whatever is afflicting my system USB won't have the same effect on it. The card arrived two days later, and now it's in my computer, and working properly. Finally, back to normality.