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HD Docking Station Freezes PC


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#1
Bannor

Bannor

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Hello

Been trying to solve this problem for a few weeks now. I have a hard-drive docking station connected to my PC via a USB 2.0 connection (no e-SATA on mainboard). I have several SATA drives that I plug into the docking station and use (as if they were usual onboard drives).
I plugged the HD from my wife's laptop into the docking station for the first time ever, to give it a good scan for viruses, defrag it, etc. My PC recognised the docking station (DS) and started the 'found new hardware' wizard (for the drive), then it just froze. There were no error messages, no blue screens, nothing. Since then the behaviour is the same for all drives I plug in - even drives that have worked in the DS for months.

Since then I have uninstalled every entry in Device Manager that I can find that could be related to the DS (under USB controllers, HID's & disk drives) and trying to reinstall everything from scratch. DS installs fine, but PC freezes upon insertion of any drive - so the problam has not been resolved.

There are two things I do not yet understand - firstly, I can use the DS connected to my wife's laptop with any drive with no problem. This indicates that 1) the DS works properly, and 2) the hard drives work properly (are not damaged).
The second strange thing is that when I boot with a drive docked in the DS and the DS switched on I can use it, at least for a while before I have problems - before this problem started happening I always used the 'safely remove hardware' icon in the system tray to remove both the drive then the DS (which is also assigned a drive letter) before switching off the DS and then removing a drive (and the reverse for inserting a drive for use).

System specs below:

- Gigabyte GA-X58 UD5-Extreme mainboard
- Intel Core i7 920 processor (not overclocked at this time)
- ATI Radeon HD 5970 OC with Arctic Cooling cooler
- Thermalright Venomous-X processor-cooler & fans
- Corsair Dominator GT Memory (3 x 2Gb, DDR3, 2000MHz, 7-8-7-20) & cooling
- BFG EX 1200W power supply
- Lian Li PC-B70 case
- Eaton PowerWare 2200 UPS (for PC & DS)
- Windows XP Pro SP3 (with updates)

Above system had been working for much more than a year, then in beginning of December (this month) I decided to do a clean reinstall of windows after system crashes while watching videos. I downloaded all the latest drivers needed before the reinstall, as well as all the latest versions of the various utilities and applications I use - should be no bits of previous drivers / software causing problems. 'System (C:)' and 'Programs (D:)' drives were formatted prior to reinstallation of Windows.

I have ESET Smart Security 5, as well as Malwarebytes Antimalware and SuperAntiSpyware (both the latter for on-demand scans only) and given my entire system a thorough scan with each, but it's completely clean. All drives are regularly checked and defragged. Event viewer shows no errors / helpful information. I've searched on Google for things like 'docking station freezes PC' but it looks like this is not a frequent problem. The docking station is an 'Icy Box IB-115'. I've tried everything I can think of, but I'm beaten - I hope someone here can point me in a new direction.

Seasons Greetings!

Philip Bannor

Edited by Bannor, 26 December 2011 - 12:45 PM.

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#2
Digerati

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Hi Philip and :welcome:

Been trying to solve this problem for a few weeks now.
in beginning of December (this month) I decided to do a clean reinstall of windows

A "few weeks" would put you right at the beginning of December, no? So were you having this problem before you reinstalled Windows? If not, are you certain it was working correct after you installed Windows? Or did it fail the first time you tried to use it after the reinstall? Was your Gigabyte running with the latest drivers before you reinstalled Windows?

With it working fine on the wife's notebook, it would seem to point to something on your USB side to me. Have you tried a different pair of USB connections?
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#3
Bannor

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Hello

Wow - very impressed with the rapid response! :)

WRT your questions:
- Yes, DS was definitely working 100% correctly before reinstallation of Windows.
- Yes, DS was definitely working 100% correctly after reinstallation of Windows (I have a drive dedicated to all the apps & utilities I want to install on my PC, and used this drive in the DS to install them).
- The first failure occurred only after reinstallation of Windows, when I tried to access my wife's laptop hard drive inserted into the DS.
- I was definitely using the latest drivers for my mainboard before reinstallation (I updated all drivers while trying to solve 'PC crashes while watching video' problem)
- I'm sure I have tried plugging DS into different USB port on my PC. I will test this again this evening when I get home from work and report back.

I also think that the problem lies in the USB drivers that Windows wants to use with the DS. How can I uninstall these drivers completely, and (particularly) reinstall known 'good' drivers for Windows to select? Uninstalling the entries for the DS in Control Panel/Hardware does not seem to solve the problem - it seems as if the drivers Widows selects when reinstalling are corrupt. I need to make sure the (Microsoft?) drivers are good, then uninstall / reinstall the DS again so that Windows will select the good drivers to use in future when I want to use the DS. It did not come with any disks / CD's - Windows is meant to install its' own native drivers, and these are the drivers I want to make sure are good; but I don't have a clue how to do this without doing another complete reinstall of Windows (which I'm not terribly keen to do).

I have reassigned drive letters for both DS and any attached drive successfully, this does not solve the problem.

Something definitely went wrong when I inserted my wife's drive into the DS - everything was fine before that. Her drive works 100% as before in her laptop (it is her system drive). It's very strange!

Anyway, thanks for the interest in helping me! :)

Philip

Edited by Bannor, 27 December 2011 - 08:02 AM.

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#4
Digerati

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I am at a loss here - since it seems to work fine on the other computer. If me, I would go into the Device Manager and uninstall the applicable drivers from there. However, note if you are using a wireless keyboard, or a even a USB wired keyboard, you may lose it too, until Windows sees the new hardware again and reloads new drivers. If you have any other unnecessary USB devices connected, disconnect them while testing.
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#5
Bannor

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Wow - again, thanks for the fast response! :)

I've already done the 'Device Manager / Hardware uninstall' thing, and it didn't help.

Maybe I should just uninstall EVERY USB peripheral listed here (not just the DS) - the entire lot, everything - including root hubs, controllers - everything? Reboot and start plugging things back in again one by one, and hope for the best? I can't think of any potential hazards from doing this...

USB devices I have connected:
Keyboard
Gaming keyboard
Saitel X52 Pro
Thrustmaster wheel
Web camera
TrackClip Pro
Logitech G9 mouse

and occasionally:
Flash drive
DSLR Camera
Mobile phone
Printer

...But I can't think of any particular benefits either, having already uninstalled the offending hardware.

What would you suggest?

PS - I plugged the DS into another USB port, with the same result. Actually, something I may not have noticed before: I had opened Windows Explorer prior to plugging in the DS. I saw that the DS itself was recognised and issued a drive letter (as it should have been), but the drive was not. I noticed that Windows did not 'crash' as such - it was rendered inoperable. I could move the mouse cursor, and even click on icons on the desktop - but nothing would open. Not even the Start Menu (even using the keyboard), or Task Manager. I used Ctr-Alt-Del and could click on the Task Mangager and Shut Down buttons - but no other window would open. I had to do a hard-reset. This might explain the lack of information in Event Viewer. I doubt this information will be of help though.

Any other boffins here able to shed some light?

Philip

Edited by Bannor, 27 December 2011 - 11:51 AM.

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#6
Digerati

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including root hubs, controllers - everything?

That's what I would do. Then reboot and Windows should reload the drivers.

That said, if it saw the DS then something is working.

USB devices I have connected:
Keyboard
Gaming keyboard
Saitel X52 Pro
Thrustmaster wheel
Web camera
TrackClip Pro
Logitech G9 mouse

All at once? I would disconnect all but one keyboard and one mouse while troubleshooting.
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#7
Bannor

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I think I've solved it!

I recovered my PC to an image I had made MUCH earlier in the installation process of all the things I have on my computer (I make images after every stage is completed), and (while reinstalling all the apps & utilities I want on my PC) discovered that the problem reoccurred after installing a whole lot of Windows updates - and ESET 5.0.93.0 (currently the latest version).

When I uninstall ESET Smart Security, the problem disappears - I can access my DS drives again without problem. This means 1 (or more) of the following:
- There is a bug in ESET which I cannot solve (perhaps a future version will not have this problem).
- There is a setting in ESET which will enable access to my DS, which I must find and activate.
- The combination of the Windows updates AND installation of ESET causes the problem. Finding and uninstalling the particular update/s will enable me to have ESET installed and still give me access to my DS.

The easiest for me to check is the second option. I will reinstall ESET and thoroughly look at all settings (in expert mode) to see if there is perhaps a default setting that prohibits access to external drives, or something similar. I cannot say for sure when this will be - I will try to remember to add to this thread if and when I find something.

Thanks for trying to help!
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#8
Digerati

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The easiest for me to check is the second option. I will reinstall ESET and thoroughly look at all settings (in expert mode) to see if there is perhaps a default setting that prohibits access to external drives, or something similar. I cannot say for sure when this will be - I will try to remember to add to this thread if and when I find something.

If me, I would make sure Windows is fully updated as a priority. I personally am not keen on security suites as they tend to add a whole bunch of fluff and bloat you don't need. I run with MSE and Windows Firewall and have no problems.
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