PC Freeze each time USB device is plugged in

Microsoft Windows xp home edition sp2b
March 12, 2010 at 12:53:52
Specs: Windows XP
Every time I connect most devices to the USB port, the computer
freezes and I have to restart it by holding the power button on my
desktop computer and turning it on again.

This always happens when I plug in most things like memory sticks or
printers. The oddest (and most annoying) thing is when I start my
computer with the keyboard and optical mouse plugged in, they work
fine, but if I unplug one of them and try to reinsert it, (even into the same
port) it freezes the computer like any other device.

Also, my portable hard drive works perfectly when plugged into any of the
ports. I've tried the memory sticks and printers on other computers (and
a PS3) so; I know it's not them.

I am running XP SP3. I've tried a few things to rectify this problem:
Reinstalled the drivers, enabled USB related services, entered Safe
Mode, checked the ports for physical damage and disabled some ports
to check for power supply problems. I tried CCleaner on the registry
(several times!) and even did a checkdisk during the boot up, but the
problem remains. Nothing in the Device Manager is clear of any signs,
so it looks like nothing is wrong. Any more suggestions would be greatly
appreciated! :)

edited by moderator: Post moved from Windows XP Forum to General Hardware Forum

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March 12, 2010 at 13:22:51

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March 12, 2010 at 16:53:26
I have tried all that is there except changing the current voltage
for the USB ports. I looked in the BIOS menu, but can see no
way of changing it.

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March 12, 2010 at 20:50:45
"I have tried all that is there except changing the current voltage
for the USB ports. I looked in the BIOS menu, but can see no
way of changing it."

You can't change the +3.3v, +5v, or +12v voltages. The current voltage readings in the bios are read by sensors built into the mboard.
If what is supposed to be +5v is not within 10% of 5.0, the USB controllers (and PS/2 devices, and serial ports, and the parallel port) cannot work properly without accurate +5v and you need to replace the power supply.

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Related Solutions

March 13, 2010 at 08:19:27
What about the fact that the USB keyboard and the optical
mouse (connected by USB) work fine when I start the computer
with them already plugged in? If I do anything like that with any
other USB device, it freezes at the black Windows start up

And the portable hard drive works perfectly fine any time I plug it
in through USB.

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March 13, 2010 at 19:40:02
See the link in Response 1 regarding finding out whether you have an IRQ sharing problem. In that case, it's common for some USB devices to work, and for some to not work.

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March 14, 2010 at 11:43:46
All the USB host controllers share an IRQ, but with no other

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March 15, 2010 at 12:20:54
See Response 3.
Are those voltages within 10% ??

The USB Host Controllers are not necessarily the only USB controller related devices that use an IRQ.
E.g. if the mboard has (a) USB 2.0 controller(s), and if the mboard main chipset drivers have been loaded, and if Windows has had SP1 or later updates loaded, there is also an Enhanced or similar Host controller listed that supports USB 2.0 - that uses a different IRQ - that IRQ should not be shared with anything that isn't built into the mboard either.

If your mboard DOES support USB 2.0, and if you're NOT seeing an Enhanced or similar controller listed, then either or both of..
- you haven't loaded the main chipsets drivers for the mboard
- Windows does not have SP! or later updates loaded.

You could try re-loading the USB stack as I outlined at the link pointed to in Response 1.

Some mboards had electrolytic capacitors installed on them that were not properly made. They eventually fail, and when they do, you can have all sorts of weird symptoms.

Open up your case and examine the mboard to see if you have bad capacitors, and/or other findable signs of mboard damage .

This was the original bad capacitor problem - has some example pictures.
History of why the exploding capacitors and which mboard makers were affected:

What to look for, mboard symptoms, example pictures:
Home page that site
- what the problem is caused by
- he says there are STILL bad capacitors on more recent mboards.

Pictures of blown capacitors, other components, power supplies, Athlon cpu's, etc.:

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