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USB Device has malfunctioned (except it works fine on another PC).

Posted on 2005-04-22
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-04-22
I'm trying to connect a USB Printer (Bravo II) on a Notebook (Acer Aspire 1800 with Win XPP SP2).

When I connect the printer, I get the following error:

"One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it."

When I should be getting an "Add New Hardware"  window. Also the Device Manager window shows "Unknown Device"

I know the printer works fine - cos it I'm using it on a Desktop PC (DIY built PC with Intel P4 3.3 and Win XPP SP2).

Also I know the USB ports on the Acer Notebook work fine because I've plugged a USB Flash Drive in each one to make sure.

I'm stumped - any ideas ?

 (If it makes a difference, the notebook originally came with XPH and I reformatted it to XPP and reinstalled all the drivers).
Question by:skmanji
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Expert Comment

ID: 13844147
Hi skmanji,

Try removing your printer driver. If the printer has a separate install disk, run the install from the disk. Then (and only then) plug in the printer.

Hope this helps,


Expert Comment

ID: 13844243
I'll just add to what "Nikkilocke" said.

Go to Start - > Settings -> Control Panel
From there Choose "System" or "Performance and Maintaince" if you're on a category view
On the "Hardware Tab" choose "Device Manager"
then click on "View" and choose "Show Hidden Devices"
Make sure your Printer is Pluged Off from the usb.

Now remove every Driver that has something to do with the Printer (just stand on it, right click.. and uninstall)
after you did it, it's recommanded to Reboot windows and when if finishes to boot up, plug the printer back..

Also, it is very recomanded to Download the latest drivers from the internet, maybe the problem you have
is a comman one that was fixed on a newer version of the Drivers.

Author Comment

ID: 13844393
I cant remove the printer drivers because I havent installed them (yet).

I cant even get to install them because I cant get to "Add New Driver Window" - because the Notebook does not recognise the printer. The windows message sequence is as follows.

1. Found New Hardware
2. Unknown Device
3. Your Device is Ready to use
4. One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it.

What I should be getting is a "Add New Hardware" window. From where I can then add the printer driver.

On the PC, it all works fine.
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Expert Comment

ID: 13844496
You must add the drivers BEFORE you plug in the printer.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 13844612
It is recommended you add the drivers before, but it doesn't really matter, nor would that cause this problem.

Disconnect the printer.

1. Click Start. Click Run. Type cmd and press OK.
2. Type "set DEVMGR_SHOW_DETAILS=1" (without quotation marks) and press Enter.
3. Type "set DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1" (without quotation marks) and Press Enter.
4. Type "start devmgmt.msc" (without quotation marks) and click press Enter.
5. Click View. Click Show hidden devices.
6. Click "+" to expand Printers, Unknown devices and USB devices.
7. Are there any extra printers and unknown devices (including grayed out devices)? If so, right click it and click Uninstall.


Connect the printer.
LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 13844805
It has been mentiond to download the latest drivers ( I just wanted to add to that and say , make sure you get them from the manufacturers website , as they will be specifically made for your printer and that way there shouldnt be any issues ! )

Also did this printer work on this machine before hand ie you had it working on this computer ( which it obviously is not working with now ) If so then what about a system restore ( because I had a usb disk drive and it did something weird and stopped working and I just did a system restore and it works fine now )

also maybe take a look at www.usbman.com

There is some useful info with regards to USB things on there :)
LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 13844814
Here is the exact site :


Author Comment

ID: 13844864
Thanks craylord, but it didnt work either.

1. There wasn't a "+Printer" tag (haven't installed any printers yet).

2. The "+Unknown" tag contained a greyed out entry for an HP USB Scanner (which I tested successfully on the USB port earlier.)  Removed this anyway.

3. I expanded the "+Universal Serial Bus Controllers" tag and removed all the "Unknown Devices".

Rebooted - but same thing. Printer is not recognised.

I'd like to try nikkilocke's idea an pre-install the printer drivers but how ?

1. The Installation guide requires the printer to be recognised as a USB device and prompt for driver installation.

2. There is no setup.exe

3. When I try to "update driver" on the "unknown device", it doesn't work. It comes back with the message "Windows could not find a better driver".


Author Comment

ID: 13844918
Re: gecko_au2003

1. I've downloaded and installed the latest BIOS from the manufacturer (Acer) website.

2. The chipset driver on the Acer CD was already the latest.

3. The machine has been freshly formatted - 2 days ago. Because I wanted XPP and not the XPH that came with it.  I've never used this printer on the Notebook before.

4. However, the printer works well on a desktop PC.
LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 13845532
What about the drivers for the printer ( ie the latest drivers for the printer from the manufacturers website ? ) Doesnt the installation for the printer come with something that will detect the printer on the USB port, I mean when I had my hp printer, when it installed it gave you a drop down menu to select LPT1, LPT2, USB etc etc or you could auto detect it ?

Possibly search around on the manufacturers website for an FAQ, or you could get in contact with them whether it was via email or on the phone :) see what they have to say :)
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 13849214
maybe the drivers that windows cannot find a better match for are the wrong drivers, I have seen this before too, windowsxp>> a lot of good known programs and hardware when installing the drivers and we know they are right, windows xp will give an error that these drivers have not beed certified by Microsoft etc etc and warns not to install them, most folk know about this prior to installing drivers and just ignore it, however sometimes this can also be a bad thing if one does not know if this is a genuine xp message so just ignore it and install what could possibly really be the wrong drivers.
So based on this> you say that there is already drivers for this printer installed.
Reboot the machine and go to safemode press f8 tap it until u get to the post screen. Choose safemode and then logon, go to device manager  Uninstall the drivers for the printer. Uninstall all replicas of the printer including the printer. and any other hardware unknown or has yellow question marks, check in all the devices that there is only the ( one of each you know is installed on the machine)  like one modem and one cdrom or dvdrom etc
Do unplug the printer before doing this of course.
Now shutdown reboot. There should be no reference to any printers now in your device manager if there is still  remove it from safemode.
Now  it should install clean, sometimes when an install fails and the individual keeps trying to install it  there can still be one running unfinished, causes a cross link and it will no longer work, safemode can fix this by safely removing the device. The same with installing and forcing windows to accept a bad driver windows does not know how to say it is a bad driver just it wont work.

Now plug in the printer and put the cd driver for it in the rom, when windows finds new hardware ignore it, just leave it sit there in the background, once the cd runs it should auto install, let it finish from the cd, wait and I hope windows will move on with the found new hardware and install the drivers.
Other wise you can move on with the found new hardware and choose to install Have cd option.
Good Luck


Author Comment

ID: 13865530
Thanks for your efforts. Finally managed to get the answer from the printer manufacturer.

"The USB connections on a laptop have proven to be less reliable then on a desktop. It has nothing to do with the printer itself. USB ports that are directly connected to the motherboard are more reliable then those that are not, so my guess is the USB ports in laptops are not directly soldered on the motherboard, but are instead mini hubs that are wired off the motherboard. Regardless, we have seen a much higher rate of communication issues over laptop USB ports and if the PCMCIA card doesn't work then unfortunately I have no better suggestions for you."

As a solution, I did try a PCMCIA USB2.0 Hub (http://www.redstore.com/oemctl014) and connected the printer to it, instead of directly to the notebook's USB ports. It worked fine.

This might be a solution to other Notebook USB problems. Not ideal - but at least it works.

Accepted Solution

modulo earned 0 total points
ID: 14134162
PAQed with points refunded (250)

Community Support Moderator

Author Comment

ID: 21412671
The solution was to use a externally powered PCMCIA USB Adapter. Maybe there just wasnt enough juice from the laptop's USB.

Anyway - the above solution worked.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 21416847
that's great thanks for sharing your solution
glad you found a solution.
Regards Merete

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