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Live Usb Crash, And Now All Usb Crash


novatore
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Hello,

I am new here, but I have been watching the show for a little while now. I posted this question in backtrack's forum as well but decided I would post here too because no one got back to me and I am out on my wits about this problem. As an update, I just got a external wifi, and even it fails when I run a VM and try to use it. So there is that.

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The title only describes what generally happens, there are other things happening that I can't quite understand. I'll start off with my system specs; I am running an Acer Aspire 1410 netbook, 2GB of ram, 130 GB HD, 3 USB 2.0 ports and I think that is all that might be relevant to my system. It normally runs Windows 7 on it and I have been live booting from a USB to run BT5R3. I use a 16GB Scandisk to boot (and have been using Katana on a PNY 16gig to boot to Backtrack 4 recently).

Initially I was encountering a problem where Backtrack wouldn't shut down properly, and so I would have to do a forced shutdown. After this Backtrack wouldn't boot properly. So I have formatted the USB a few times and reinstalled, but kept getting faced with the same problem. After a while I started getting general USB failure. Even in Windows 7 I would have a problem with the USBs, they aren't recognized and nothing I seem to do makes them recognized. This problem in Windows 7 isn't just with the BT USB either, once it is not recognizing one USB it wont recognize them across the board, any other device like my External HDD. After a some strange mixture of reboots, or something else that I can't really explain I can finally get my computer to recognize the devices.

So this inability to recognize devices is just one part of the problems. I am also getting strange crackling noises coming out of my computer when I have a device in, in Windows and running a BT distro. Since BT5 hasn't been working I have been using Katana and booting BT4 from there because even after a crash it will run again. So in BT4 it will run fine for a while, and then after a bit I will start hearing crackling noises and this generally means my S is F'd. Once the noises kick in BT will start "eating" programs. The programs I am running will still run okay, but anything else I try to run will fail. When I try running certain commands I generally get I/O errors, I can't run Halt for example (which makes shutting down suck). After forced shutdown I can usually run BT4 again with no problems on booting, but all my problems just start over again.

So I feel like this explains pretty much most of the problems I have been having. If you need more info please ask, I was trying to be thorough but this is my first time posting on technical forms like this so I can't be 100% sure.

It should probably also be mentioned that I run into similar problems even when I run an Ubuntu live USB too.

I have searched the FAQ, wiki, forum, and even the internet but to no avail. So this is kinda my last resort (just in case you were thinking I haven't tried to find other solutions). Thanks for your help!

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Pull the HDD from the machine, then run without it and just use the USB drives, see what happens. If the same thing happens, buy a new flash drive and try again, without the HDD's. If it continues, most likely, your board or USB ports, are shorting out or not grounded properly. This, believe it or not, can actually happen, from wifi cards too. I've had two wifi cards go dead over USB ports, adn even seen sparks one time. Liuckily, the PC still works, and so do the ports, but the cards sometimes themselves, cause issue with the ports where they no longer seat properly, wiggle a bit even, and if there is any play in the USB port, use a different one if you can and avoid using the other one. I have one port on my PC, the actual little part that you plug into, broke off in one of my USB sticks, and came out of the USB port itself. Port still works, but is loose as hell, so now I use the one next to it.

In general, USB is kind of flaky, and also, one of the quickest way to damage components. With main PC's, its usually not a huge deal, since you can pull the part(for ones not built into the mobo) and replace them, like on mine which has front USB, its a connector to the mobo, so even though I've seen sparks on the port itself, the mobo is gorunded pretty well and all is fine. On ones built into the board itself, once plugged in, leave them in. They aren't meant to be taken in and out on a regular basis, ie: keyboards and mice on the back of a PC. Once they start getting to the point they have play in them, they start to wear out.

Also, some of the use cheap components in manufacturing, and you get this carbon build up, which corrupts external media. Because they use things like tin in them, after a while of power running over them you get these little black carbon deposits and over time, the USB ports start to work funky. Cheaper netbooks probably use the same thing, to keep costs down, so just inspect if you can with a light, see if there is any kind of play, and even carbon deposits in the ports themselves. No real way to clean them, but they can cause data i/o errors on USB devices. Also, your USB media can have the same effect, such as cheap usb thumb drives that use the cheaper tin connectors, cause corrosion and such, makes a difference over time and usage.

The other thing to check, and reason I said to do it without the HDD in, is sometimes, even though you are booted off external media, the HDD itself when shutting down with hard power offs, you damage disk sectors and the HDD itself, even when not booted off of, can still talk to the mobo and system, and linux will still see it as media, and in most cases when browsing the file system, automatically mount it, which if its corrupt from hard power offs, could cause weird issues while running the PC, so whenever possible, try NOT to hard power off the machine.

Boot off the HDD, and do a chkdsk on windows and see if it finds any errors, and if you have to run it as a chkdsk /r and tell it to check for bad sectors on reboot, just to be safe. Might take a few hours to run, and if so, is usually an indicator the drive is going.

These aren't guaranteed fixes but more or less just things to look for and look into, and try to rule out.

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Thanks digip for the tips. So I tried taking the HDD out and running just with a Live USB... did not fix the problem. Ran fine for a minute and then my computer made a crackling sound of doom and then I couldn't run any commands and just had I/O errors when I tried (this is why I have had to hard power off). Then I got all gung-ho and tore the computer apart only to realize that once I actually got down to the mother board I had no idea what I was looking at. So I reassembled it and I am still getting the same issue (I was hoping that taking the computer apart would magically fix it). I would assume that the problem has something to do with the connections between my MB and the USB hubs, but I wouldn't know how to fix that.

The computer will do one of two things, it either doesn't recognize the USB drives or it makes the death sound and then all devices fail and I have to do some weird combination of restarting the computer and plugging in the USB device at the correct time (or after a while they will just work). Or, once in a while, there wont be any problem with the devices at all. More input would be awesome. I am ready to accept the fact that I may have to buy new parts or take it to a shop, but I would rather try and exhaust all of the possibilities first. I also want to get an idea of what cause this so it doesn't happen in the future when I get my computer, or with any other computer. Any more advice anyone?

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My guess, is a short on the USB bus to the main board, if its only happening with USB media and devices, thats probably your main culprit. And like I mentioned before, I've lost 2 USB wifi cards because of USB ports. USB in itself seems very flaky and the connectors are always wearing out. I don't know if laptops have replaceable USB cards in them with connectors to the board to pop on and off(some manufacturers might) but more than likely these are built into the board, which means not easily replaceable, nor worth damaging the board further. I'm curious what the clicking noise is, but sounds like something shorting.

If you've gone as far as opening the case, assume all warranty voided pretty much, so don't offer that up when you take it in, but if the device is fairly new, and still under warranty, take it in and just tell them you want an RMA and get a new one. If its already a couple of years old, I'd say open it back up, carefully get it turned on while open)HDD removed of course, lets not damage your important data) and while its on, plugin a USB drive, and just let it sit for a while, wait till you hear the noise you speak of and visually inspect if you can see where its coming from. Just know that whiles its open it 1, might not boot(if they have special grounds and connectors that won't let it boot while open, but only if they have some kind of built in switch the case presses on) and 2, you can potentially do more damage to the mobo while open, just because of ESD, so try not to touch any components without being grounded to the device, ie: get a grounding strap while testing all of out.

The fact it makes some kind of noise, for me, would be what I would want to see happening during use, and you can't really do that when the machine is put together, so I'd say pull the HDD, since we know thats not causing the noise, take the case apart, ground yourself to the case and just run it with the top off so you can see whats happening inside. Might visibly be able to see a spark or such near the USB ports while something is plugged in, or it could be another component. Try to isolate where the noise is, but to me, sounds like its a short and you should be able to find the noise issue. Might even be something as stupid as the fan and a bearing, and while unrelated to operation of the USB, just something to look/listen for.

Edited by digip
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If the fan binds and stops spinning, and the machine overheats, the system could reboot(depending on bios settings for temperatures) or just freeze, etc, but it would have to get pretty hot, and by default, most laptops get hot as it is, so not sure that is a USB related issue as much as a heat issue. However, if the fan is shorting somehow, that in itself is also not good, but while they had it open and inspected it(assuming they took it apart) did they say it was normal fan noise or something else, because as a user of a laptop, if it was the fan, you would have noticed the noise from day one, no? So is it a "new" sound you hear, or something out of the ordinary? Did they replace the fan, disconnect it and test the USB, without the fan plugged into the board, in order to rule that out?

What if anything, did the shop do for you, and what did they charge you to take a look at the machine?

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The ship just listened to the sound. Once they heard it they guessed it was the fan based on the fan. Their assumption was that putting pressure on the keyboard (or overtightened screws) was the problem. I also carry my laptop in a bag with me everywhere, so maybe the pressure from being in between books and my back ( I do use a computer bag) is causing a similar issue. They said to run Prime95 and try and see if the computer will still run after like three minutes. Have yet to do this. Also, they didn't take the computer apart.

So I just tried another experiment with plugging in a USB device and running a little portable fan behind my computer to see if maybe an overheating issue was screwing with the connection. It ran fine for a bit, and then my computer just randomly decided to tell me that it doesn't recognize the USB device.

Generally when the above happens, plugging my device back in doesn't make it recognized. But with the fan blowing on the back it does recognize it again (although it just told me after I plugged it back in that it does not recognize the device anymore). Peculiar.

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The ship just listened to the sound. Once they heard it they guessed it was the fan based on the fan. Their assumption was that putting pressure on the keyboard (or overtightened screws) was the problem. I also carry my laptop in a bag with me everywhere, so maybe the pressure from being in between books and my back ( I do use a computer bag) is causing a similar issue. They said to run Prime95 and try and see if the computer will still run after like three minutes. Have yet to do this. Also, they didn't take the computer apart.

So I just tried another experiment with plugging in a USB device and running a little portable fan behind my computer to see if maybe an overheating issue was screwing with the connection. It ran fine for a bit, and then my computer just randomly decided to tell me that it doesn't recognize the USB device.

Generally when the above happens, plugging my device back in doesn't make it recognized. But with the fan blowing on the back it does recognize it again (although it just told me after I plugged it back in that it does not recognize the device anymore). Peculiar.

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