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Problems copying to USB drive

Posted on 2009-07-02
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
This is a problem that's been bugging me for months at home and has now "spread" to my work computer as well somehow.  I have 2 USB drives, both Kingston - 8gb and 16gb.  At home, I can plug the drive in, see it in Explorer, and view contents.  I can also copy files from the drive to my system hard drive.  I cannot copy files to it however.  When I attempt to, it locks up for several seconds and then tells me that it can't find the specified file (which I know is there).  Explorer then restarts and the drive is no longer accessible without unplugging it and plugging it back in.  If the drive is formatted as NTFS, that problem is replaced by neverending "Delayed Write Failed" errors instead.

At the office, things were fine until I formatted the drive as NTFS to let me copy files >2gb.  Then I got the lovely Delayed Write Failed messages.  I moved it back to FAT32 only to have the *exact* same symptoms as as home. I can copy from the usb drive, but not to it.

I can plug the drives into someone else's computer and they work just fine and dandy.

I've tried any number of potential fixes found on the net (some here) but none have remedied the problem.  The last promising lead I had concerned the drive somehow being made read-only but I could not find information on how to check that for XP.

General system specs:

home - quad core phenom, 4gb ram, amd mobo, all drivers up to date
office - dual core intel, 2gb ram, asus mobo, all drivers up to date

For what its worth, all other usb devices work fine, including printers, mice, keyboards and gamepads as well as the Verizon wireless modem I use at home for internet.

Any suggestions?

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Question by:netmd
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by:jkockler
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It sounds like you do not have all your windows updates installed, specifically SP2...  Right click my computer ---> properties -- look in general under system.  

If it is SP2, then still install any outstanding windows updates, and try again.  If not, then obviously install SP2.  The fact that it is only these 2 computers looks like an update issue more than anything.

The delayed write failed, turned out to be a bad hard drive when it happened to me, but since your drives work on other computers, you might be more fortunate.
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by:netmd
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Both machines are SP3 and fully up to date, minus IE8 since it breaks things I need.  The office computer was actually working for awhile before breaking when I formatted a usb drive as NTFS.
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by:netmd
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Mini-update - it seems to be some sort of weird permissions issue. When I try and copy files to the thumb drives via command line, I get a simple "access denied" message.  On a whim, I disabled my AV's resident protection (using Avast Home) and now I can copy files to it... slowly. Its taking 10 minutes to copy 30 megabytes but it is indeed copying.
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by:jkockler
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The only time I have had problems with Avast locking down a mahince, is if there is any Norton or Symantec on it as well.

It might be worth reinstalling avast if you do not have any other old antivirus conflicting with it.

Do you have the right USB drivers installed on the computer?  Go to start-control-panel-system-hardware-device manager, and see if you have any yellow marks on the usb controllers.

Also have Avast scan the usb drive for viruses.  There might be a reason it does not want you to access it.  

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by:netmd
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Avast is the only AV I have had on this office system.  I tried going into safe mode and seeing if anything was different there but it wasn't - more access denied errors.  I've formatted multiple times as well as a low level format using a 3rd party tool, all to no avail.

Just a bit ago, I formatted yet again as NTFS to give me access to the Security tab.  I attempt to take ownership of the drive and it tells me "You do not currently have access to files on this drive. Would you like to give yourself Full Control?" I gleefully click yes only to have it sit there for 10+ minutes and stop responding.  I can assign ownership to myself, administrators, etc. (though it doesn't help) but it hangs up if I check the "Replace owner on subcontainers and objects" checkbox.

Assigned myself as owner of the drive, made sure myself, administrators and Everyone had Full Control of the drive.  Access denied when copying via command prompt and a full on windows hang when trying to drag and drop until the drive was removed.
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by:jkockler
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If the memory stick gets formatted, and gets a permissions error, then it is not a permissions problem.  We have one of two issues here.  Either corrupted / faulty firmware on the drives, or a third party service getting in the way.

Start - run - msconfig - services tab -- choose to "hide microsoft services," and then uncheck all the services that remain.  Apply - close - reboot in normal mode .. Test the drive. Let me know the results.
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by:jkockler
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Also, make sure you are a local admin of the computer --- start - control panel - users ... I am assuming you are not on a domain.  If you are on a domain, you may need domain admin rights to change your level, or add your domain user to the local workstation.
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by:netmd
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I disabled all services in msconfig.  Same results.  FYI, I'm at home now and the setup here is a bit different as are the symptoms but the end result is the same.  At both home and the office, Explorer hangs when trying to drag and drop.  When using command line, at the office, I get an immediate access denied message but at home, I get no message. Instead, it just sits there and makes windows 90% unresponsive (all windows and apps) until the thumb drive is unplugged.

As far as admin rights go, I'm an admin on both machines. On the office computer, we are in a domain but I'm in all the proper groups including domain admins.  I can use the drives on other computers at the office (either logged in as myself or someone else) with no issues at all.  And no thumb drives (including those of friends) will work in either machine.  So that would seem to narrow it down to windows/3rd party issues and not the thumb drive itself.

I've also tried Safe Mode on both computers since I had read some folks with similar issues could copy in safe mode.  At the office, when dragging and dropping or using command line, I got immediate access denied messages.  At home, it actually copied half or more of every file I attempted to copy (at normal speeds even) only to suddenly stop, sit there and eventually spit out a Delayed Write Failed error (drive is still formatted as ntfs at the moment).  File sizes range from 5mb to 75mb.

Thanks for all the input so far.
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by:emilgas
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I'm surprised that you said it works fine on other computers. I used to have an issue like that but it turned out to be the USB drive was bad. Humm
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by:jkockler
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So youf friends are unable to use thumb drives on either machine??  That is seriously odd.

I would suggest your next step to be, uninstalling AVAST completely from the system..  Turn off any local firewalls on the computer.
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by:emilgas
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Oh you know what? Try it on a Virtual PC. Download Microsoft Virtual PC (Free) That would tell you a lot
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by:jkockler
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Yea virtual pc -- good call.  if it happens there, you have USB port issues.
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by:emilgas
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Virtual PC will pick up the physical hardware and will skip the software conflicts of the host PC
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by:netmd
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I've got Virtual PC installed at home now but I won't be able to grab an OS ISO until Monday, unless there's something I'm missing.

All other USB devices work properly as did the thumb drives (at the office PC anyway, until I formatted a drive as NTFS the first time) so I assume it's not port issues.  I am curious as to what happens in a VM though.
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by:jkockler
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A VM will be equivalent to a fresh install of XP.  This will tell us if you have a third party conflict or hardware issues.
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by:netmd
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Busy day at the office so I was only able to get Virtual PC installed, OS installed and updates started.  I should be able to finish that up tomorrow and continue testing.
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by:netmd
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Okay, at the office again. Virtual PC is updated through SP2. I went through the folder sharing process to get access to the thumb drive.  I tried to copy a 30mb file from the VM to the drive and after sitting at 99% done for about 30 seconds, the host machine spit out numerous Delayed Write Failed errors. I saw no messages at all on the VM itself.

A side note: After an attempted copy, the drive becomes unusable completely until unplugged and reinserted. Also, after an attempt, the light on the drive blinks endlessly until its unplugged.
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by:netmd
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One other thing I forgot to mention.  There are the expected Delayed Write Failed errors in Event Viewer. But there are also mass entries for "An error was detected on device \Device\Harddisk2\D during a paging operation.", sometimes as many as 10 a second as it tries to copy.

I tried uninstalling Avast and results are the same as when its disabled.  It actually appears do a little better, as in actually getting a progress bar but the end result is the same.
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jkockler earned 375 total points
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Well it is definitely a hardware issue.  I am leaning more towards this being failed thumb drive hardware, or the firmware that runs them, even though you said the thumb drives work on other computers.  You should definitely check with the manufacturer, for possible known issues, and / or replacement drives.

Did you say friend's usb thumb drives do not work on these computers either?

What about normal external USB hard drives?  

Your only real step remaining with the computers is to blow out the partitions,  and reinstall windows.  

Did these computers come with any other operating system than XP?  Possibly Vista computers, that you downgraded?

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by:netmd
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Correct, no thumb drives work on either system but my "bad" drives work great on any other system.

I've not tried a normal USB hard drive but I'll do that tomorrow at the office.

Both computers have always been XP Pro only.  And the computer at the office used to work fine until I formatted the drive as NTFS.

At home I've had the issue for a longer period.  After dealing with it for a couple months, I bought the new 16gb drive hoping it was the first drive that was the problem.  Oddly, the new drive worked for a week or so.  It was slower than it should have been and would sometimes hang up for 2 or 3 minutes at a time while copying but it would eventually finish.  Then it just stopped working altogether, again.
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by:jkockler
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See what happens with a normal ext drive, and then contact Kingston.  If they don't have a solution or will not help. I would suggest going with a different brand of thumb drive.  If other people's drives work fine in your computers, then Kingston has issues with the firmware.  I would suggest Sandisk.
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by:netmd
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I attached a 500gb Maxtor USB hard drive to the office computer and it works just great. No problems copying to or from the drive whatsoever.  I'll take it home this evening and test it there as well.
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