USB SD card drives randomly disconnect or fail mounting

Seagate Expansion portable external 500g...
September 29, 2012 at 13:17:50
Specs: Windows XP Pro SP3 / Ubuntu Studio 11.04 , 1.6 ghz / 1.5 GB
I went through a few models of SD card readers, thinking they were breaking. It seems that my computer is at the source of the problem. My USB SD card readers will very often fail.

Sometimes, they will mount, and either fail in the middle of a lenghty writing or reading operation, or before a writing operation begins. At other times, it will simply fail to mount whatsoever.

Windows will prompt to insert a disk when trying to access the drive, or will show an empty drive with zero storage capacity. Linux will go "Error mounting: mount: /dev/sdc1: can't read superblock".

I can tell that my SD cards are healthy and that the SD card readers I used are functional since they work on the machines at work, college, etc.

A few facts that might help figure it out:

- My computer seems to have a harder time with USB mass storage than healthier or more recent machines. For example, I've had a portable USB-powered hard drive fail on my computer after a year of usage, but it seemed to work much better on my college computer. The portable drive had the exact same behavior when it started failing, but it worked fine for a year. SD Card readers start having that behavior when I first use them.

- I have a relatively old machine, with which I experienced a bit. My front onboard USB controller seems to be defective. USB devices have a much better chance working consistently when I plug them into the back onboard USB controller. I have no clue as to why. I tried cleaning all the dust, unplugging and replugging everything inside and it brought no behavior change whatsoever.

- I had to replace my power supply at some point, the old one got fried. This one is a 500 W 24 pins, with the last 4 pins that can be removed from the connector. My motherboard only has a 20 pins plug. I don't know if that affects things at all.

- For some reason, my computer is sometimes unable to boot if I configure the BIOS to support USB Legacy (mouse, keyboard and mass storage) and my external hard drive is plugged in. It will stop responding before the memory test. It did that with all my external drives, but at random times.

-I have a PCI USB extension card. Devices have the same behavior if I connect them on the extension card as when I connect them to the onboard USB.

I should probably replace my machine, but I don't have the means right now and I have to deal with this one for now. It is old and obsolete, but all the pieces seem to be functionning and this isn't normal behavior even for an old machine.

The product I'm currently using is a Nexxtech All-in-1 Card Reader 8000946 USB 5V. There were a few others from different brands which I've used before, but I can't recall the brands and models.

Please help. Thank you.


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#1
September 30, 2012 at 08:47:21
"I had to replace my power supply at some point, the old one got fried. This one is a 500 W 24 pins, with the last 4 pins that can be removed from the connector. My motherboard only has a 20 pins plug. I don't know if that affects things at all"

Using only 20-pins of the 24-pin plug is a very common practice when fitting a new PSU to an old motherboard, I did just that last week with no ill effects- nor did I expect any. It just allows PSU manufactures to make provision for both new & legacy boards without them having to manufacture two different types.

As to your USB-ports problem, unplug all USB devices except mouse & kb if applicable.

Now uninstall each "USB Root hub" in turn in Device Manager (Not the USB Host Controller devices). To uninstall each Root Hub , right-click it and choose Uninstall.

Then reboot and Windows will automatically re-install each USB Root hub with a fresh driver.


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#2
October 30, 2012 at 10:02:03
Sorry for having forgotten about this question.

I tried a lot of things. Uninstalling the USB drivers and reinstalling them, using a fresh Linux install, flashing the BIOS, enabling disabling Legacy USB support, etc. Only three things have affected the issue, if only a little, thus far.

1. The issue causes the file system to become more and more corrupt as I write data on the card. It seems like the problem occurs more frequently on a corrupt file system and it seems to stabilize for a while on a freshly formatted filesystem. It is near impossible however to run checkdisk regularly on the card, as it tends to fail in the middle of the tests which makes it worse.

2. It seems like the card reader fails less often when USB devices are unplugged. It seems like I can get the card reader to work better if I unplug my external HD for example.

3. I currently have two SD card readers. For some reason, it sees like my machine eventually "gets tired" of one and the other one becomes more likely to work for a while, until it goes the other way around.

This may all sound a bit absurd but... it's what's happening!


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