USB unknown device keeps launching and failing

By sailordave ยท 12 replies
Jul 7, 2009
  1. A passing friend had some pictures on a USB stick that she couldn't open. Tried with my computer & worked fine. Printed her pictures then waved goodbye as she sailed off with her stick towards turkey.
    Unfortunately, my computer has not forgotten her stick as quickly as I have.

    Every time I boot, It keeps popping up a USB connection dialog for an "Unknown Device" and then immediately killing it. It does this several hundred times for an hour or so and then seems to give up.
    I see the "Unknown Device" pop up and go away continuously in device manager but it gives me no options to remove it.
    The physical device is no longer there of course and I have no way of getting it. Some record of it must exist somewhere in windows but I don't know how to find it and remove it. (Sadly, I have no idea what it is called).

    Has anyone any suggestions for how I can hunt it down? My machine is a Compaq 8510w running Windows XP SP3. According to device manager it has both USB 1 and USB2
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    See [post=727106]How to use the DriveCleanupTool[/post] first to try cleanup your computer.

    Note that windows keeps info about USB devices until they are uninstalled (not simply when they are removed). The tool will cleanup Windows data for all USB storage devices not connected at the time you run the command
  3. sailordave

    sailordave TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Moved on but not fixed

    Thanks LookinAround, That's a great utility. Cleaned up 33 USb drivers for all sorts of unused hardware (also some used hardware, but that will re-install itself.

    Sadly, although it has moved the problem on a bit, it's still not solved. The only device that comes back (as if the hardware had been re-inserted although it hasn't) is the offending one.

    DriveCleanup removes it again and gives me some info that I don't understand but may well be significant: USB\VID_0000&PID_0000\5&570F764&0&2

    It looks like there's some sort of hardware emulator that runs on startup and installs the faulty drivers again.

    Any idea what might be going on?
  4. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    well, i do have some ideas of more specific things to check on that can cause the symptoms you describe....

    First thing to note: USB is not always as simple as Plug and Play
    By definition of the USB spec, there are low powered vs. high powered USB devices.
    > Low powered devices can require up to 100mA (milliamps) for power
    > High powered devices can require up to 500mA for power

    Based on what you report, i believe the top contenders for problem source are
    >> USB ports on your computer and/or USB hub ports and/or computer USB devices not working within their power requirement spec and/or
    >> A USB cabling issue (e.g. the USB cable length or is due to poor cable shielding)

    So a couple general things to start.. i can then followup with some more specific things to check/do
    1. Are you using any USB devices that allows for their own A/C adapter connection BUT their A/C adapter is not plugged in or working? (be sure to check all devices. Especially cameras, disk drives and card readers but certainly check all your USB devices)
    2. Do you connect any of your devices to the computer via a USB hub?? AND does the hub itself have its own AC adapter? or not? Hubs that don't supply their own A/C adapter are limited in the number and types of devices you can connect to their USB ports (again due to problems with exceeding power issues)
    3. You might want to start by unplugging all USB devices and then start adding them but be sure to only first
      >> Connect to USB ports directly on the computer
      >> When you add a hub, make sure its a powered hub with A.C adapter plugged in

    You might find it helpful (or certainly interesting!) to download USBview. Run it to see
    1) the hierarchical connection / relationship between all your connected USB devices and
    2) What devices does it identify as connected? Any devices you know of that aren't in the USBview? This is probably the device that failed to be identified correctly

    /* EDIT */
    I didn't look.. but are you using a laptop or desktop?? As laptops (sometimes) can have issues with supplying the steady/correct power to USB ports as well.

    /* EDIT2 */
    Oh. and to add one more note: some USB flash sticks (e.g. the SanDisk U3 Cruzers) are high powered devices that may fail if connected to bus-powered (i.e. low powered) USB ports
  5. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    " USB devices not working within their power requirement spec..."

  6. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184


    and a "HUH?????" right back at ya! ;)

    The first basics to understanding all this:
    > Are you familiar with the USB power specification?
    > Do you understand the difference in requirements between low-powered vs high powered USB devices?
    > Do you know the difference between bus-powered vs self-powered USB hubs?
    > Are you aware of the the Plug and Play (over USB) sequence of steps required for a USB device to connect, be identfiied correctly and then work?
    > /*EDIT*/-And i'll add: Do you understand just how a device and its USB power spec requirement fits into the PnP/USB sequence of steps in order to make it all work?!
  7. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184


    Also here's a couple of my earlier posts to provide you tutorials and a beginner's guide you might find helpful on the topic for your initial reading and help you "fill in the blank". If any question, let me know. will try to further clarify what i can

    See [post=755153]Plug and Play Overview: How Windows Finds Drivers for USB Devices[/post]

    See [post=752516]How to Check USB Device and USB Hub Power Issues and Limitations[/post]
  8. sailordave

    sailordave TS Rookie Topic Starter

    No USB devices connected

    Hi - thanks for all the attention.

    The odd thing about this problem is that I have no usb devices attached at all (at least externally). I believe that PCMCIA cards can share some USB components but befre you ask, I don't have any of those attached either.

    Device manager shows 4 USB controllers numbered 2830,2831,2832,2834&2835 each with a Root Hub. It also shows 2 USB2 Controllers numbered 2836 & 283A. 2830 has an Authentec Inc, AES2501A attached (possible fingerprint device?) and 2834 has an "HP Integrated Module with Bluetooth 2.0 Wireless Technology" attached. There are no other devices visible.

    so there is no power drain and I find it difficult to imagine how power could be an issue.

    The 'phantom' memory stick device that is causing the problem is several hundred miles away - all that remains is some sort of ghost in the machine.

    Thanks for your article on how windows finds USB devices - really enlightening! I always wondered how it workes.
  9. sailordave

    sailordave TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Much closer!

    Hi again LookinAround,
    Your suggestion of USB View has found the problem - another great tool - thanks!

    It's the internal finger print scanner - which I never use since, pulling ropes most days, I don't have much in the way of fingerprints.

    It keeps installing, then randomly discovering a problem with its driver, ditching the driver, then starting all over again.

    Is there any way (without snipping wires) of disabling the thing completely?
  10. Hodsocks

    Hodsocks TS Guru Posts: 382

    Have a look at the service guide for your laptop and it looks as though you can disconnect the fingerprint reader cable from the motherboard which will cure your problem.
    I assume there is nothing in the BIOS where you can disable the reader?
  11. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Hodsocks has pointed out some good options to explore :grinthumb

    Also (not 100% sure that this would help - but it can't hurt) but you might also try opening XP Device Mgr and look for the finger print device (check first under the USB category). Then rt click to disable the device.

    Here's my uncertainty about this solution: I think disabling the device should keep Windows from trying to re-install the driver. BUT as long as the device is physically connected (and detected via BIOS)
    > Windows may still detect what it thinks is a device change on the USB bus
    > This causes Windows to give that familiar "USB hardware change" sound effect. Then Windows queries the devices on the bus
    > The finger print device responds (along with other USB devices) with its Device ID (as described in that PnP/USB driver post of mine you read)
    > Now Windows sees the fingerprint device ID and uses it to figure which device it is, if it has a driver and if the device is enable/disabled (all of which is based on device ID strings received from the device)

    How power to the fingerprint device can fit in
    I haven't looked at your computer spec but if you're indicating the fingerprint device is a USB device it likely draws the power it needs to work directly from your internal USB bus. Plus in order for the sequence above to work, it also requires the device can draw sufficient power from the USB data bus. Otherwise, those first "Device Identification" steps in the PnP/USB bus sequence can malfunction if the power source via the bus isn't good and consistent.. tho the whole sequence might also fail simply because the device itself is flaky
  12. sailordave

    sailordave TS Rookie Topic Starter

    All fixed - thanks very much!

    Thanks very much for all your wonderful advice.. The fingerprint device seems to have finally bitten the dust.

    As suspected, disabling it in device manager didn't work - it disabled and then happily bounced back, re-installed itself, and was in business buggin the hell out of me within 2 minutes!

    Disabling it in the BIOS seems to have done the trick though.

    Next step would have been getting my screwdriver out and reading the service manual - thankfully a road I now don't have to go down.

    Hope I| can repay you somehow one day.

    All the best
  13. Hodsocks

    Hodsocks TS Guru Posts: 382

    Glad we were able to get you sorted.
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