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  • Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

    I'm setting up a backup solution for one of my clients and am having problems. They want an off-site solution, are on a budget, and the current tape backup isn't large enough. I opted to go with using two external USB drives for a current solution.

    When we plug in an external USB hard drive, things get all wacky. I can open some programs but not others, can't reboot, and lose some functionality of the OS. Eventually I have to hard reboot in order to get it back up and running. Many new external USB hard drives create an extra "virtual CD drive" when you plug them in. I first figured that this was incompatible with Server 2003 but when I tried some older WD USB drives, I realized differently.

    Some external USB drives work fine and some don't. Those that do work: I plug in the drive, it's recognized in Windows Explorer and the Disk Management utility. I can safely remove tham as well. Those that don't work: I lose OS functionality, can't see it in Windows Explorer, and can't reboot. (All of the drives are tested and working on other computers.)

    I removed all the utilities that install with the newer HDs, and went into the registery and cleaned out all the remnants as well. Each drive that works, consistently works. Each drive that doesn't work, consistently doesnt work.


    This is my troubleshooting so far:
    1. Tried all USB ports
    2. No errors in the Event Log
    3. Updated the BIOS
    4. Ran all Windows Critical Updates
    5. Checked the BIOS for any legacy USB legacy support
    I was able to see the culprit drive when I plugged it in before booting though. I then "safely removed" the drive and replugged it back in, and once again the server locked up.

    I did find something at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314634 which talks about disabling "selective suspend"...tried this and it didn't work.

    Any ideas?

  • #2
    Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

    How much do they want to back up? There's multiple cloud backup solutions that are very cheap.
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    • #3
      Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

      I was thinking of off-site backup as an option but would like to give a good stab at the USB issue. If all else fails, I'm willing to entertain the idea to my client to go to the cloud. If it comes to that, what companies do you recommend. I have mostly used i-backup in the past and have been happy with it. I service the small business arena. This certain client has 30-40GB of data to back up.

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      • #4
        Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

        the drives that cause a failure of the system - does the same thing happen on other machines ?

        How big are the drives, what format do the partition(s) have ?
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        • #5
          Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

          I don't have another Server 2003 box to test these drives on but they all work on an XP machine. We originally started off with new identical 640GB Toshiba drives. Next we tried new identical 1TB Western Digital drives. Those all had this new "virtual CD drive" function, so I decided to bring in some of my own drives. All drives are formatted NTFS.

          Below are the results of my drives:

          Worked-
          500GB Western Digital Essential
          400GB Western Digital Passport (2.5")

          Did not work-
          320GB Western Digital Essential drive
          160GB? Western Digital Passport (2.5")

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          • #6
            Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

            do you have any backup programs installed, or drive-identifiers ? (I'm thinking of "High-Rely" here, which identifies a drive by it's guid and ensure it always has the same letter.)
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            • #7
              Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

              Do the USB ports work with other devices??

              Also another crazy thought.

              Does the server support both USB 1.1 and USB 2??? I'm wondering if it supports only USB 1.1 and the device won't fall back to using that.

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              • #8
                Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

                Maybe you could try to side-step the issue. You could mount the USB drives in folders on an NTFS volume on one of your workstations, and share them with the appropriate permissions, then you can back-up to them via UNC path. This way you won't be using the USB bus on the server at all. If the workstation crashes then at least the server won't be affected.

                I've recently had problems with s2003 locking up whilst backing up from an old Netware server for no apparent reason. I completely removed the IPX/XPS stack from the server's NIC and now I'm using an XP machine to pull the files off the Netware server and back them up to s2003, solving all my problems.

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                • #9
                  Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

                  There is a program named "TreeSize Professional" that is installed (http://www.jam-software.com/treesize/). While not a backup program, it is some sort of a drive content manager.

                  The Server is a Dell PowerEdge 830 I believe. I'm pretty sure it supports both USB 1.1 & 2.0. Some USB 2.0 drives work just fine while others don't, see below.

                  Agent_P: Good workaround idea. I would like to solve this though and set my client at ease. If it I can find a resolution in a decent amout of time, I can use a workaround but would much rather solve it head on.
                  Last edited by Digi8; 3rd December 2009, 15:35.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

                    Does it make any difference if you wipe the drives and format them with NTFS? presumably the backup software craetes some sort of container file which will be larger than the 4GB maximum possible on a FAT32 volume. Most USB drive come as FAT32.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

                      All of the original drives came formatted FAT32. All of my drives that I tried are NTFS.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

                        What about disk management - when you connect the drives that are not working - will something come up there ?

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                        • #13
                          Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

                          Nothing shows in disk management. If I connect the drive before having the disk manager up, I lose the ability to execute the disk manager.
                          Last edited by Digi8; 3rd December 2009, 23:24.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

                            Any ideas on this?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Server locks up when plugging in USB hard drive

                              Originally posted by Digi8 View Post
                              All of the original drives came formatted FAT32. All of my drives that I tried are NTFS.
                              So your drives formatted with NTFS worked but the other drives formatted with FAT32 didn't work. Is that correct?
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