Computer Related > Powered USB hub Computing Issues
Thread Author: Crankcase Replies: 8

 Powered USB hub - Crankcase
I think I'm in the market for a powered USB 3 hub. I have four external drives, two of which are powered themselves, two are not.

I find that when the PC reboots, which is about once a week for various reasons, I have to swap the drives about in their sockets until Windows sees all of them. All four will eventually work, but it's a dance every time.

I'm guessing this is a power issue (?) for my sadly ageing PC, and perhaps a powered USB hub might resolve it. Amazon is awash with such things from about £20 to over £100, and other than "more money must mean a better product", who knows?

Anyone have one they can recommend, or indeed have thoughts about my "missing" drives?

 Powered USB hub - smokie
Each drive goes to a different port though? So I don't imagine (tho not sure) that it'd be a power problem, as the USB spec says how much power to provide per port not overall.

In the past (probably earlier Windows) I'd sometimes find that drivers no longer plugged in were hogging drive letters so new USB devices were recognised but not allocated a letter. But that doesn't sound like your problem either.

Whatever, down to the inevitable questions... :-)

Do you leave the drives permanently plugged in to the PC? If not, do the problems happen only when they are all plugged in, or randomly at other times?

I imagine they will always get the same driver letter if reconnected after having been unplugged, or plugged into a different port. Or do they lose drive letters?

Do the powered ones always work OK and so the problem is only with the unpowered drives?

I wonder what a second PC reboot would do, if anything (just as a fault finding action).

I haven't got a USB hub so can't offer purchasing advice... - save are you sure the PC is USB3, and the drives are too - if not a USB2 hub may be cheaper
 Powered USB hub - Zero
>> Each drive goes to a different port though?

Kinda but not really. Every 2 ports on the outside of the pc will go to a double header on the Board, which has their power and ground strapped together. They will be current limited
 Powered USB hub - Zero
Edit by which I mean each header has its power pins strapped not the ground and power strapped together! (unless they are USB3)
Last edited by: Zero on Mon 17 Jan 22 at 17:42
 Powered USB hub - Crankcase
Thanks for the questions. Things wot I have noticed are:

If you restart the PC with the drives plugged in (any or all) the PC won't boot. It will hang at "press del for setup". I've looked in the BIOS, nothing obvious, and I've looked at the drives, and none have (failed) bootable partitions.

So you can only get it to restart by unplugging all the drives. After boot, you put the drives back and then it usually refuses to see one or more. The failures seem to be the unpowered drives, hence my thoughts about power in the first place.

The issues only occur at reboot - once it sees all four drives, they stay happy until reboot again.

Any given drive will always get back the same drive letter it had previously, eventually.

If I put the drives back in the same sockets they just came out of after booting the PC, very often at least one will not be seen by Windows. If I then move the drives into different sockets, Windows will sometimes see everything, sometimes not. If I then put them back as they were, Windows will then sometimes see everything, sometimes not. If I change them around for the nineteenth time, howl at the moon and pay obeisance to the Great God of Importunity with some spare goats entrails, then Windows will sometimes hoik up its skirts, sniff haughtily, and the drives will appear.

They will then stay quite happily until the next reboot, which is when Windows insists on an update, or my ethernet connection disappears for no apparent reason, only coming back after a power cycle.

All the four drives are (at least sold as) USB 3. The PC has three USB3 sockets on the front, which I normally use, another two USB2 sockets on the front, one of which I have to use, and then another two USB 3 and two USB2 on the back, which are in use for the keyboard/mouse/printer/graphics tablet/usb ethernet thingy. Can't easily get to the back so I don't put any drives in there.

So there we are.

I have thought about buying a new reasonably future proofed gaming PC anyway (crikey, you need about two grand, don't you!) but I'm not quite there yet, for the simple reason of crikey, you need about two grand, don't you.

Last edited by: Crankcase on Mon 17 Jan 22 at 19:04
 Powered USB hub - Zero
First thin I would do is update the BIOS, any of the drives got a bootable partition on them?
Last edited by: Zero on Mon 17 Jan 22 at 22:03
 Powered USB hub - smokie
I had USB devices which prevented a boot if left plugged in. Can't remember what but I def did, I think maybe thumb drives.

After carrying out Zero's suggestion I'd try to make sure the unpowered drives were on the USB3 ports, as USB3 delivers more power IIRC. Chances are you've already done this though, deliberately or otherwise. But try to pin down whether it is just the unpowered which have the problem.

I suppose if you plug them in 1) too quickly after the machine is up and/or 2) in quick succession after one another the machine might be too busy with other stuff and fail to recognise them.

Another thought - they are either not being seen by the system or are being seen and mounted without a driver letter.

If you watch Device Manager when you plug them in you should see the list of devices refresh (possibly at least twice) while it registers then configures the device. (From Explorer right click of This PC, Manage, then Device Manager). They will appear under Disk Drives. I think if they are there they will generally get a drive letter, but if you can't see them when they are there run diskmgmt.msc from the Run window (right click on windows button) and see if the appear in disk management but without a drive letter. if they do, you can probably right click on the drive in the lower pane to allocate a letter, but we'd need to work out why they weren't getting one automatically.

If that isn't happening it sounds like your machine simply isn't seeing the drives for some reason. (If you have an activity light on your PC you'll generally see it flickering a bit when you mount a drive anyway)
 Powered USB hub - Kevin
>If you restart the PC with the drives plugged in (any or all) the PC won't boot.

Do I understand this correcly?

Even if you have just one powered or unpowered drive attached via USB the system will not boot?
 Powered USB hub - Crankcase
>> Even if you have just one powered or unpowered drive attached via USB the system
>> will not boot?

Correct, Kevin. Something Is Adrift, clearly. The boot disc is an internal SSD, and C: is the only one with a boot partition. The others have no boot partitions that I have set up, nor does Disk Management show any other than the data partitions on them. The bios is set to boot from the correct drive (with the CD/DVD drive as first choice).

Device manager doesn't show anything wrong with the USB bits (as far as Windows is concerned anyway), with or without drives attached.

Thanks for the idea about a BIOS update, Zero - it's an ancient Shuttle PC, and there is no BIOS update later than I have.

I'll work through Smokie's suggestions where I haven't already done so next time I need to reboot, try to whittle it down a bit. Thanks for those.

Well, as nobody has said to my original idea, yes, buy a LingLong Special USB Hub for £95.50, I've saved £95.50, so thanks for that at least.
Last edited by: Crankcase on Tue 18 Jan 22 at 09:00
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