I don't know where to begin troubleshooting this problem.
Can a bad external hard drive, or one with a faulty power supply, cause XP to be unable to do a proper shut-down and cause an extreme (like 5 minute) lag in boot-up, and also cause other USB devices plugged into the same computer to start acting flaky?
Or is it more likely the USB controller on the motherboard causing the external HDD to sometimes "disappear" or be unreadable.
I have two external USB HDDs (both Maxtor) plugged into my Dell XPS 400 desktop. The other day my computer wouldn't do a shut-down, so I re-started it manually, then Windows hung at the black screen with the blinking cursor. After several attempts, it finally booted up when I just left it at the blinking cursor, but it took something like five minutes.
When I got the computer booted up, one of my external HDDs was not visible, although it was plugged in, connected and powered up. I swapped the two power supplies for the two units. It seems like maybe the power supply could be bad, because now the other HDD is sometimes not recognized, and sometimes it looks like a bunch of files and folders on it are missing - then when I remove it from the system and reconnect it everything is there.
However, and this is the part that really has me baffled - some other USB devices are also acting flaky when connected to the computer - like my digital camera. The Dell tells me it is an unknown device, but I've been connecting this camera to this computer for years.
Last week there was a noise coming from inside the Dell's case, so we opened it up and cleaned the dust out of the interior, and the noise stopped. So I thought maybe the MB was damaged somehow.
All my backups for this computer are on those two external HDDs, so this is complicating the troubleshooting process. I'm afraid to shut off the computer for fear it will never boot up again if it's a MB problem, but I don't want to purchase a new HDD if the problem is the computer's MB and not the HDD.
Help! Suggestions, a possible route for process of elimination?