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Solved: Seagate Ext HDD - PC now hangs on boot

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by billfrech, Aug 1, 2005.

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  1. billfrech

    billfrech Thread Starter

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    I have an HP Pavilion a810n desktop PC running Win XP Home SP2. I recently purchased a Seagate 160GB external USB hard drive. Setup went fine and Windows recognizes the drive with no problem. I realized there was a problem the first time I powered the PC off. When I powered on, the PC hangs at the blue HP screen. Turning the power off and disconnecting the USB cable from the PC corrects the problem. After Windows boots up, I can plug the Seagate drive in and all is fine. The problem is two fold. First of all, it's very inconvenient to have to disconnect the drive each time I reboot. More importantly, I want to use the external drive for backups, so I need the drive to be seen at bootup in case I can't get to Windows.

    I did some searching on the net and found the following post from another user having the same problem. Here is the relevant text of his post.

    --begin quoted text

    Ok, now the serious flaw. I have a 160 gig Seagate external USB hard drive. HP a810n computers will not boot with this and I expect, other USB hard drives attached. It locks up at the blue bios screen with the drive access lights on solid on both the HP a810n and the USB hard drive. The same USB drive works fine with 5 other computers I tried, but not with my a810n, or another a810n I tried.
    After 3 weeks of working with HP support, they admit it is a bios problem and
    promise to fix it within the next week. I hope they do.

    --end quoted text

    This post was dated March 14, 2005. Figuring the updated BIOS might be a
    solution, I downloaded the BIOS (K8S-LA Motherboard) v3.12 update from HP's
    site. The BIOS update description addresses the same type of problem I am
    experiencing. It talks about 'resolving an issue with the PC freezing during boot-up when USB mass storage devices are connected'. The BIOS update went fine, but it does *not* correct the problem with the Seagate hard drive.

    Contacted HP support and as usual, they were less than helpful. The support rep told me to upgrade the BIOS, which I had already stated I had done (do they even listen to what you say?). With that, he was completely out of suggestions and wanted me to send the entire PC in for a 'bench test'. That would put me without the machine for 2 weeks and in the end, probably not solve the problem anyway. Not going to do that.

    In case it's helpful, the Seagate drive is Model # ST3160026ARK. It is a 160GB USB2 External Hard Drive. It is formatted as NFTS.

    I'm sure that other Pavilion a810n users have purchased this drive and have run into the same problem I am having.

    Any suggestions/help to solve this issue is greatly appreciated. I look forward to anyone's input on this.

    Thank you.

    Bill Frech

    ---
    Computer: HPA810N () Model: PP164AA-ABA a810n(HP Pavilion 061)

    Processor: AuthenticAMDòĀ¿ 2400MHz (L1 cache: 128.0 Kb, L2 cache: 256.0 Kb) Ext.clock: 200 MHz (Stated as an Athlon 3300+ 64)

    BIOS: 3.12 (20-Apr-2005)

    Motherboard: Salmon 1.04 (ASUSTek Computer INC.) (Socket 754)

    Memory: 1.02 Gb (1 048 048 Kb) A0: 512 Mb(DIMM,DDR,50 ns) A1: 512 Mb(DIMM,DDR,50 ns)

    Video Card: VisionTek XTASY 9200 series (128.0 Mb): 1152 x 864 - True Color (32 bit)

    Sound Card: Realtek AC'97 Audio (onboard)

    Operating System: Windows XP Home Edition U.S. English 5.1 (build 2600 Service Pack 2) installed: 03-Nov-2004
     
  2. buckfan1

    buckfan1

    Joined:
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    Check that you have the updated software for that drive by downloading it from the website. If it continues you could put a usb hub on there and un plug from there untill the update comes out.
     
  3. billfrech

    billfrech Thread Starter

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    When you say updated software, do you mean the device driver? If so, I don't think there is one. Just went to Seagate's site and under drivers it says the following:

    "The external USB / 1394 combo drive sold by Seagate does not require additional drivers for most environments (See the notes below for your specific operating system). Also keep in mind that you may need to load drivers for your USB / 1394 host adapter before you can see the drive in the operating system.

    Windows XP / 2000 / Me
    No additional drivers are needed for these operating systems. The drivers that ship with these operating systems should automatically load when the drive is connected."

    As far as other software, the drive came with backup software, but because I've heard bad things about it (and I already use Acronis), I never loaded it.

    Thanks.
     
  4. buckfan1

    buckfan1

    Joined:
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    What about the drivers for your usb on your motherboard?
    Go to device manager and delete all the usb or uninstall them and then restart after they have loaded reconect the drive and see if that works after reboot. Good Luck
     
  5. billfrech

    billfrech Thread Starter

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    OK. I'll give it a shot!
     
  6. billfrech

    billfrech Thread Starter

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    Assuming I did this correctly. (Went into device manager, selected all USB, and clicked Disable for all). Nothing changed. Still hangs on reboot with the drive plugged in. Unplug the drive, reboot, plug the drive in from Windows. All is fine.
     
  7. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    106,418
    You may need to do a bit more than just kill off the USB controller items. Follow these instructions exactly and see if it helps your situation.

    Unplug ALL USB devices.
    Open Device Manager.
    View, Show Hidden Devices.
    Uninstall all devices under USB Controllers.
    Uninstall all devices under Storage Volumes. Say no to any reboot prompts until you are finished. Also, if a Storage Volume doesn't uninstall, ignore it and move to the next one.
    If you have a yellow ? with unknown devices, uninstall all of the entries there as well.

    When this is done, reboot TWICE.

    Reconnect the USB devices and see if they're recognized properly.
     
  8. billfrech

    billfrech Thread Starter

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    OK. Unplugged all USB devices. Went into Device Manager. Enabled Show Hidden Devices. Uninstalled all USB Contoller items until the category itself disappeared. Next went to Storage Volumes. Found 4 'Generic Volumes' listed under Storage Devices. Was only able to uninstall 1 of the 4. When finished, I shut down PC. Powered it back on and was prompted to restart when Windows finished booting up. Clicked OK to restart. Now back at the Desktop.

    That's where I am now. Couple of questions, John.

    First, your instructions state to reboot TWICE. I assume the restart that Windows advised I had to do was the second Reboot you are referring to. If not, please advise. Next, your instructions state reconnect the USB devices. Does that mean ALL USB devices at once? Or do I need to reboot again each time a device is added. Last question. Keep in mind, that Windows has no problem recognizing the Seagate hard drive in question. It's only when the PC is starting up (at the 'F1 to Enter Setup' screen), that the Seagate causes the system to hang.

    I will wait for your reply before I continue.

    BTW, I really appreciate your (and Buckfan's) help!

    Bill Frech
     
  9. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    You need to reboot AGAIN, after everything comes up and looks normal, that's what the TWICE means. I understand it only hangs on boot.

    This isn't certain to solve your problem, it's just a process that I've worked out that has solved problems with errant driver configurations for hard disks in the past. It's worked for me as well as a number of other folks. The issue seems to be that occasionally, Windows will get confused about the configuration of a USB drive and get bad parameters configured into the registry. Then it can't replace them for some reason, and the disk access fails. Obviously, it doesn't work for everyone for every problem. :)

    Thinking about your situation, you might also check to see if HP has a BIOS upgrade, since it may affect the USB handling during boot.
     
  10. billfrech

    billfrech Thread Starter

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    I did that and rebooted. All is well. The system boots back up. What I've discovered is that the system only hangs on a cold boot. If I'm in Windows and Shut-Down - Restart, all is OK. If I turn the PC off completely, it hangs when I power it back on. I think I'm in agreement about it being a BIOS issue, but HP is pretty useless.

    I appreciate your efforts. At least I know I can soft-boot without having to unplug the drive. I can live with that.
     
  11. billfrech

    billfrech Thread Starter

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    First of all, thanks to everone for the help. I'm pretty sure it's a motherboard problem.

    Here's a question. Would a PCI USB card be a workaround for this? I'm not sure, but wouldn't that bypass the motherboard's USB contoller? Or does it all go through the motherboard and an add-in card wouldn't help.

    I'm not sure how/if this would work. I saw it mentioned on another site and it gave me the idea.

    Suggestions?
     
  12. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    The add-on board doesn't use any of the MB USB stuff, and may well help with the problem. OTOH, it does use the BIOS initialization, so it's not a guarantee that it would solve the problem. At about $15 for the card, it's cheap to find out. :)
     
  13. billfrech

    billfrech Thread Starter

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    Thanks. I'll give it a try and report my findings.
     
  14. billfrech

    billfrech Thread Starter

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    The PCI USB card worked like a charm!! :)

    Thanks for all your help. Hopefully this workaround will benefit someone else down the road as well!

    Bill
     
  15. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Interesting, I wonder why the on-board USB chokes on boot? :confused:

    In any case, you can mark your own threads solved using the thread tools at the upper right of the screen. :)
     
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