Problem with Data transfer to External drives connected to USB ports - HD Write Errors

When trying to transfer large files to an external USB 2.0 drive, I get "Error, can't write Files" or "Windows delayed write error"  or similar  error prompts, depending on whether I am using a program to backup (Acronis) or Windows backup, or just trying to transfer files to that drive.

This is the same with any of four USB 2.0 drives I have. I have done diagnostics on the drives and they are all fine.  I can backup to these drives from other computers.

A couple of other things that may narrow down the issue:
1. One of the USB drives also has a firewire connection (a LaCie drive). I can backup with this drive using Firewire, but not USB 2.0
2. I can backup to an internal SATA drive without problems, using any of the methods mentioned above.
3. I don't think this is a Windows issue as I have a dual boot situation with two seperate installs of Win XP SP3 and the problem is the same for both.
4. I have tried a lot of fixes suggested on here, including new USB cables and various changes to disable caching, none seem to work.
5. None of my other USB hardware is giving me problems.
6. The issue is the same with all USB ports on the computer.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

mikepaxAsked:
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burrcmCommented:
Power can be failing and the system will still boot, but it isn't likely to be the issue. Caps can be bad and still look OK, but of course there are many other possibilities. May just be a problem with the USB bus. Will still need a new mobo if this is the case. At least it is working with the card, but if it is under warranty, I wouldn't wait too long. Might be a good time to pick up that laptop you have always wanted.

Good Luck

Chris B
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burrcmCommented:
USB power appears low, won't affect mouse etc. Try using a powered hub. You may need a new power supply to fix it completely. Try booting to a knoppix live cd or similar to confirn it is hardware.

Chris B
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Sai Prasad KinneraSupport Delivery ManagerCommented:
try to get new enclosure and connect it to either 4 pin and then try and even before this have a word with your USB vendor and if you have warranty go ahead with replacement.
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mikepaxAuthor Commented:
I have now tried it with a powered USB hub - Same issue.
Also just tried it booting with Knoppix Live CD....file transfer failed.
Seems then that it is a hardware problem.
Computer is a Dell Dimension 9100 but their support do not acknowledge that there is a problem with the hardware.
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burrcmCommented:
If it is under warranty I would insist. If it is not, you could get round the problem with a USB2 PCI card. If you acquire one with internal headers you can plug the front ports into it also provided the Dell has standard cable connectors.

Chris B
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PUNKYCommented:
What format of the drive? NTFS or FAT32
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mikepaxAuthor Commented:
It makes no difference if the drives are formatted FAT32 or NTFS, I've tried both.
I'll try a USB2 PCI card.
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burrcmCommented:
Another thing, check the board for leaking or bulging caps. If any are evident, it is time for a new board, mind you if it is otherwise stable, a board can often run for a long time in that condition.

Chris B
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mikepaxAuthor Commented:
Many thanks for your help Chris ...  progress is being made.

I've installed a PCI USB card and using this I can backup and transfer files.

So does this mean it's a motherboard problem or a power supply problem?

It's time to get on to Dell support again!

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burrcmCommented:
Could still be either. Without seeing it, first thought was power, but the powered hub didn't help, so I am leaning towards motherboard. Caps are the most common and visible fault and will lead to all sorts of odd issues such as you are experiencing. Given that the card works, this is even more likely. It also gives a definite indication to Dell support that the issue is with the PC, not your equipment.

Chris B
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mikepaxAuthor Commented:
I can't see any evidence of trouble with any of the caps.

I spent 90 minutes on the phone with Dell support today and they did some basic diagnostics on the motherboard and could not find any faults. They say that it can't be the power supply because the machine would not boot if it were faulty.  Eventualy they offerred to take the computer away to check it out, but as I am using it for work that's not possible... so for now, I'm stuck with the problem.

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