Windows XP freezes when PCMCIA card inserted

Posted on 2008-06-18
Last Modified: 2013-11-17
Dear All,

I have a very peculiar problem.

Since a week, my computer simply freezes whenever I plug a card into the PCMCIA slot. This is the case with a PCMCIA Smart Card reader and a Option HSDPA Mobile Data card ( As i have a problem with two different cards, I assume the cards are fine. Can't test them though as I only have one laptop with a PCMCIA slot

Take "freezing" very litterally: when I plug in the card, the screen just stays as it is, but I can't move the mouse cursor, keyboard doesn't work and the computer time simply halts (even if I let the card in during 15 minutes!). When I plug out the card, the system continues to run as normal (but the time is LOST ;) )

Same problem occured when I booted up the system with a card inserted. The blue boxes who move around when starting up Windows XP simply stopped... and when I plugged out the card, they continued...

There's no information at all about the incident in the event logs!

As I had been using the laptop for 3 years and it had some other software flaws, I decided to reinstall the whole system, but unfortunately the problem is still there...

Does anyone have any experience with this? Do you think it's simply a hardware failure?

Best regards,

Question by:nd2u
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LVL 88

Accepted Solution

rindi earned 168 total points
ID: 21815008
Boot the PC with a knoppix CD and insert the card(s) there. If they are accessible and the PC doesn't freeze, then the hardware is OK. If the PC also locks up with that OS, then it is a hardware problem, most likely the contacts within the PCCard cage are bad.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 21815074
What about device drivers? Do you have any yellow exclamations in your device manager? (without the card inserted)

Author Comment

ID: 21815128
Will try the Knoppix when I have the time;

I installed all most recent device drivers. There are no devices with errors.

The PCMCIA bus is a Texas Instruments PCI-4410 Cardbus controller
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 21815623
Then yes, definitely try knoppix. If it does the same thing, then I would assume your cardbus slot has gone bad/broken.

You can choose to replace your smartcard reader and mobile data card with USB models, or you could just get a new machine...
LVL 39

Assisted Solution

PUNKY earned 166 total points
ID: 21816385
You should also inspect the connector on motherboard see if it damaged or not.

Author Comment

ID: 21984811
Was quite occupied during the last weeks!

Have downloaded knoppix in the mean time and will soon burn it on a CD to test out the solution given. (have already bought a new laptop btw, could not wait for a solution!)

There is no physical damage to the PCMCIA connectors.

Will keep you posted!

Author Comment

ID: 22020603
just burned knoppix on a CD and tried it out... big surprise!!

Before starting up, I plugged in my PCMCIA smartcard reader (Cherry Smartreader SR-4044). The system started up without any problem, but I don't know if Knoppix started up the smartcard reader.

Then, I plugged it out and plugged in my OPTION HSDPA card. At that moment, the system frooze... just the same way as under my Windows XP... When I pulled the card out, everything continued to work perfectly well...

Then I plugged in my smartcard reader again, but everything kept on working normally. But then again, I could test if the card actually worked and was started up under koppix.

Finally I tried to start the Knoppix system up with the Option card. Same problem occured: the system frooze while starting up. Just as Windows XP freezes while starting up (while the rolling bar is displayed under the XP logo). Same thing here: no error messages. Just a system freeze when the HSDPA card was turned on (and the control LEDs started flickering as normal).

The Option card works great with my new laptop, so the problem isn't situated there... I guess it's really a hardware failure in my PCMCIA slot?


LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 22024949
Yes, it looks like that. Often pins within the card cage get broken or bent, and that can cause problems.
LVL 12

Assisted Solution

alikaz3 earned 166 total points
ID: 22028238
Also the solder at the points where the actual card socket mounts to the board can break. The cards used in those slots can really wrench at the port, especially if the card can move around inside the slot, and gets caught on a doorframe or something.

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