USB Device plugged into Computer A shows as plugged into Computer B

This falls into the aggravating and interesting, but not fatal category.

The suspects:
USB device:  SanDisk "ImageMate 6 in 1" device that can hold up to 4 camera memory cards at one time
Computer A:  Compaq running XP SP2
Computer B:  HP running Vista Home Premium
Router:  Linksys Wireless G Broadband Router

I have had the USB connected to Computer A for a couple of years with no issues.  During that time, the USB appeared on Computer A as a USB device and the 4 slots appeared as 4 'Removable Disk' entries in the Explorer.  I have had and still have a 512MB card in the first slot.  The other slots are empty.   The Router was connected to two machines at that time:  both XP SP2.

Last year, I connected Computer B to the network and removed the older machine.  A few months ago, the USB drives (the 4 slots) began appearing on Computer B's Explorer as 4 Removable Disks -- i.e. as if the USB device were plugged into Computer B.  And, Computer A no longer shows the 4 Removable Disks -- i.e. as if the USB device were NOT plugged into Computer A.   Also, exploring Network from Computer A shows the 4 drives on Computer B.  Both computers agree that the Removable Disks are connected to Computer B -- but, neither computer can access the 512MB memory card.

I have repeatedly checked (in complete disbelief) the wire from the USB device to Computer A.  It is definitely connected to Computer A.

Further, the 'Safely Remove Hardware' for Computer B shows a USB device connected.  But, NO external USB devices are plugged into Comptuter B.  And, Computer A, consistently, does not show the USB device connected at all.

Both computers have been re-booted multiple times.  I have disconnected the USB and rebooted, reconnected and rebooted, etc.

I have Norton running on both machines.  I have run anti-spyware also.

This is not a fatal problem for my network, so I have not pursued it aggressively.  However, it is a 9.3 on my weird-s__-a-meter. Before I start looking at it again, thought I would run this by the experts.

Any thoughts on what could be causing this behavior?

LVL 5
fesnyngAsked:
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fesnyngAuthor Commented:
Additional info:  since this behavior began, the Vista machine (Computer B) has been completely re-formatted and reloaded with Windows.  The Compaq (Computer A) has been upgraded to SP2. Neither of these changes has affected the mis-behavior.  In addition, the Compaq (Computer A), periodically loses track of the 2 intenal CD drives and a reboot is needed to re-acquire access to the CDs.

iTunes was installed on Computer A about the time this behavior began, but I cannot confirm that it is a contributor.
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MarkCommented:
What happens when the PC with the usb attached is removed from the network physically(unplugged network cable)
Does the second PC still map these drives?
Have you tried setting the USB device up on the Vista PC, how does it behave?
It sounds like some thing is mapping the USB drives as a network drive, but not seeing them on the host is perplexing to say the least. Can't say I've seen this one before so the good news is, your W-S-a-meter is accurate at least
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fesnyngAuthor Commented:
good to know that the w-s-a-meter is working.  I never leave home without it.  .

Thank you for the response.  Very good suggestions.   That makes the most sense to isolate the network as a factor. And, it makes sense that the root cause is most likely the router or some other network component.  

FIrst try will be:

1 -- shut down / power off both machines
2 -- shut down / power off the router -- disconnect every cable just to be sure
3 -- re-start Computer A -- with NO network running
4 -- look for USB device as USB and on Explorer

IF that fails to change the behavior, then ...
1 - shut down / power off  Computer A
2 -- mover USB device to Computer B
3 -- restart Computer B  -- with NO network running
4 -- look for USB device as USB and on Explorer

This should be interesting.  I will let you know how it turns out.  It will be tonight (US Central Time) before I can get back to it.

Thank you for your help.
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fesnyngAuthor Commented:
Well, ran the experiment and the results are in.  Never rule out stupidity as one of the possibilities.  

On closer scrutiny, Computer B, the HP, shows that it has an identical set of 'Removable Disks' as the SanDisk USB that is connected to Computer A.  There are not 4 slots, but there are 4 USB devices shown by Device Manager that match up exactly with the SanDisk configuration.  And, the front of the machine shows that the single slot can be used for all 4 types of camera memory cards. The 4 device configuration gave the illusion of the 'transfer' from Computer A to Computer B.  When those 4 Removable Disks disappeared from Computer A, the illusion was that they 'reappeared' on Computer B.  I bought the computer for a very specific purpose and I never noticed the camera memory card feature.  So, my w-s-a-meter is now running in the normal range.

The SanDisk USB is now correctly functioning with Computer A after the cold re-start. I think that it was as simple as moving to a new USB plug.  I unintentionally moved the plug one over when I was re-connecting the machine.

All is working for the moment.  Your suggestion had the effect of sniffing out the actual issues.  Thank you for the help.
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fesnyngAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your help.
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MarkCommented:
Glad you got it figured. This was like a magic trick, where the brain was fooled by slight of USB.

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