USB 2.0 ports not functioning.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 80gb hard driv...
January 15, 2010 at 17:09:25
Specs: Windows Vista, Intel Core 2 Duo 1.67Ghz
Hi, I have a HP Pavilion dv2500 Notebook with:

Intel Core 2 Duo CPU 1.67Ghz,

2046 MB of RAM,

Windows Vista 32-bit

Motherboard: Wistron 30CE.

BIOS manufacturer: Phoenix Technology.

My problem is I have USB 2.0 ports in my notebook, I’ve checked in ‘Device manager’ and I also have the latest drivers installed, but windows keeps displaying an error message saying “Your device can perform faster”.

I connected a USB 2 External Hard drive and my computer does not detect it. So I tried going into the BIOS setup to see if I could enable the USB 2.0 controllers, but my Phoenix BIOS setup page only displays "Diagnostics" Where I'm only able to test the hard drive and memory, but nothing else, Does this mean I need to update the BIOS so that I have more setting options. What BIOS update do I need?
My computer seems to detect the USB 2.0 external hard drive for a few seconds but then it stops working and is not detected anymore.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.


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January 15, 2010 at 22:11:21
All USB 2.0 ports also support USB 1.1 standards. The operating system installs USB 1.1 drivers automatically during Setup - they're built into Windows, if the USB controllers are enabled in the computer's bios (some laptop bioses have no setting for that - they're always enabled).
USB 2.0 drivers are also built into Vista (and XP with SP1 updates or later) , BUT they are only installed AFTER the drivers for the mboard's main chipset have been installed. The original HP software installation already has the mboard drivers and USB 2.0 support, but if you have since installed the operating system from a regular Vista DVD, you don't have USB 2.0 support until the mboard drivers have been installed, preferably right after Setup has finished.

"Windows keeps displaying an error message saying “Your device can perform faster”.

It sounds like you have USB 1.1 support but not USB 2.0 support. You often get nagged by that message when you plug in a device that was designed to work better with USB 2.0 support.
All devices I know of that are designed to work better with USB 2.0 support also work with only USB 1.1 support; they just have a much slower max data transfer rate with USB 1.1 only support. (That isn't the reason your external hard drives aren't being recognized properly.)

USB 2.0 support shows up in Device Manager - USB controllers as an "Enhanced" USB controller or similar.

If you don't see that, you need to install Vista drivers for the main chipset.

You're probably having problems with the external drives because they can't get enough current.

External hard drives connected via USB require that you plug them into a USB port(s) that can supply the full max 500ma current specified for USB ports. If you plug an external hard drive directly into a USB port built into the laptop's base using the USB cable(s) it came with in most case it works fine. An external hard drive may NOT work properly if you plug it into a USB hub that is multiple ports that plug into one port built in a laptop, even if the hub is "powered" with an external power supply adapter that plus into the hub so all ports in it can supply 500ma even when all ports are used. A port in a PCMCIA (PC CARD) USB 2.0 controller adapter, or an ExpressCard USB 2.0 controller adapter, may NOT supply enough current for an external drive to work unless it is the ONLY thing plugged into it.

External drives that have 2.5" hard drives inside them (laptop sized; e.g. "Portable") are physically smaller and normally get all their power from the USB ports on the computer. Some come with a USB cable that has one USB connector on each end - some come with 2 cables or a Y cable that has three 3 connectors, both types having two USB connectors on the computer end. Sometimes you need to connect two USB connectors on the computer end - if one is pass-through, you can connect other USB devices to that.
Some have a jack on the external case you can connect an external power adapter to, if you need to, but the external drive usually doesn't come with the power adapter.

External drives that have 3.5" hard drives inside them (desktop sized) are physically larger and get part of their power from an external power adapter that plugs into the external case and comes with it, but it also requires 500ma of current be available from the USB port it plugs into.

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January 18, 2010 at 12:25:45
Excellent! yes it is likely that my portable hard drive isnt receiving enough current, since my Laptop battery is dying out and I solely depend on the charger to power up my laptop. So replacing the laptop battery would be a wise option right?

Thanks very much for the reply, it was very informative and useful!

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January 18, 2010 at 13:05:05
"So replacing the laptop battery would be a wise option right?"

It's a good idea in any case if it's getting old and or weak, but that isn't related to whether you can get enough current from a USB port built into the laptop, or one port in a PCMCIA or ExpressCard USB 2.0 controller card (according to info I have found so far, those cards can only draw 500ma total for all the ports they have, unless they have a (usually) 1/8" jack you can plug a power adapter into and you plug one into it) - the factors I described are more important - e.g. the external drives may not be detected properly unless they're plugged directly into the laptop's built in ports. I'm assuming your cable(s) is(are) not physically damaged, and your USB port(s) your plugging into are not physically damaged, of course. Cables are frequently damaged by you pulling on the cord too many times rather than pulling on the end connector when you unplug them - e.g. often the wire(s) get(s) broken right near the connector - if in doubt replace the cable. They should certainly be able to get enough current when the AC adapter is plugged in, and if there is enough power capacity available for the computer to run from the main battery alone. You can set power settings so the laptop uses less power, e.g. in the bios and in your Power settings in Control Panel, but that does not affect the current available from USB ports.

In some cases, you have no choice for a external hard drive, especially ones with 2.5" hard drives, to have either TWO connections to USB ports on the computer end - either via two cables or a Y cable supplied with the drive, or if the external case has a (usually) 1/8" jack on it, to buy an external power adapter and plug it into the external case, as well as plugging in at least one USB connection on the computer end.
If the 2.5" external drive has only one cable, one USB connector each end, and no (usually) 1/8" jack for a power adapter, sometimes you need to obtain a Y cable that has a Y cable - small USB one end, 2 regular USB on the other, andconnect both at the computer end.
The 2.5" hard drive itself often draws nearly the full 500ma when starting up. A 3.5" drive requires even more current, when starting up but it always the external drive comes with a power adapter that plugs into the external case, which must be plugged into it.

More recent laptops will not run on the AC adapter alone. The main battery must be installed and be capable of at least retaining a minimal amount of capacity. If the main batterry is too weak or too discharged too much, the computer will not start up when you plug in the AC adapter - the computer attempts to charge the battery enough for the computer to start up, when the AC adapter is connected, first - usually you see an led is on when it is attempting to do that.

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January 18, 2010 at 15:21:41
Oh right! So I should purchase a Y USB cable. Will this mean each USB port will supply current to the external hard drive hence it will receive more than if it were connected to just one?

Is there any software to test whether my USB ports are functioning properly?

Thanks a lot again!

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January 19, 2010 at 11:47:46
Try each external drive connected directly to a port built into the laptop.
If that doesn't work check the physical condition of it's cord and that of the USB port it plugs into.
E.g. if the cord is damaged (common), wiggling the cord near the connector on an end may make it work / not work.
Less likely....
- check for bent contacts or pins in the USB port or plugs.
- check for a missing plastic blocking plug in the port and in the USB plugs if applicable (a small usb plug or port may not have one) - if that's missing the male USB plugs can be plugged in upside down, and doing so may fry the USB circuits for that port..
If the USB cords for the two drives are identical, try swapping a cord.

If nothing seems to be wrong with the cord or the ports, then you may have one of the rare laptops/notebooks that can't supply the standard max 500ma from it's built in USB ports (in that case it may work fine connected to a different computer, if the USB port plugged into can supply 500ma) , or the external enclosure's circuits plus the hard drive within it's current requirements totals more than 500ma, and you must use a USB Y cable or two cables, or if the external encolsure has a (usually) 1/8" jack, you could use an external power adapter plugged into that jack and one USB cable.

I found when researching external drives / empty external enclosures not long ago that more recent 2.5" IDE or SATA hard drives of any capacity draw 500ma or less (the external enclosures circuits draw very little) , but not long ago, some drew more current than that, if they had a greater capacity (empty enclosures info may say they're not for drives larger than xxx gb) - if the external drives with installed drives are more than a year or two old, or if the hard drive in the enclosure is more than a year or two old if it has been replaced or has been installed in a newer enclosure, the only way to get those to work properly if the hard drive draws more than 500ma is one of those solutions.

"Is there any software to test whether my USB ports are functioning properly?"

If there is I am not aware of it - but you should be able to figure that out by logically analyzing what you've already observed, and by the following.

"My computer seems to detect the USB 2.0 external hard drive for a few seconds but then it stops working and is not detected anymore."

That indicates the USB port is working and has either a poor connection or it can't get enough current.

""Windows keeps displaying an error message saying “Your device can perform faster”.

That indicates the USB port is working but only in USB 1.1 mode. You may get that message or similar for any device that is designed to work better with USB 2.0 support - e.g. flash drives, card readers - most mice and keyboards don't work any better with USB 2.0 support and you don't get such a message.
If you're still getting that message the USB 2.0 support has not been properly loaded. You probably need to load the main chipset drivers for your model in that case, and after that the USB 2.0 support should be loaded automatically, and you won't get that or similar messages from then on.
Even if the USB 2.0 support is not properly loaded, the external drive should be recognized fine, if the drive can get enough current - but it will have a slower max data transfer speed.

If anything works in directly connected USB ports, their controllers are working and are enabled in the bios whether you see a setting for that in the Setup or not (laptops often have minimal settings in them) - e.g. a mouse, keyboard, or flash drive require very little current; cameras, USB hubs or card readers, scanners, printers, and all in ones require more current; external hard drives require the max current. At least the ones that are not external hard drives should work fine in directly connected ports.
USB ports in USB hubs and in PCMCIA and ExpressCard USB 2.0 cards are another matter - it's well known not everything works correctly in ports for those.

If there is a problem with a USB connection not working properly
- in Device Manager - USB controllers the whole category will be opened up and one or more things will be flagged with an X or a yellow ! or similar
- if USB 2.0 support has been properly loaded, there will be an entry for an "enhanced" USB controller or similar there in the USB controllers list - if that has NOT been installed, the entry won't be there, and you MAY see an entry for an Unknown USB device there.

(RIGHT click on My Computer - Properties - Device Manager)

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