why doesn't my laptop recongnize a usb flash driv?

I have this laptop running windows xp that when I plug in my external hard drive it will ding like it knows that I have plugged something in, but it will not see my external hard drive.  I tried plugging in a pin drive and it acted the same.  I plug this external hard drive into laptops & desktops all day every day and never have a problem.  This is the first time I have not been able to connect to a computer.  I just attempted to connect to my personal computer and it connected fine.  What can be wrong with the laptop?
beemmerAsked:
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Jeff PerkinsOwnerCommented:
Here is the location for your drivers, make sure to set the o/s to xp, and then you should have about 5 pages of drivers.  
First try the chipset drivers on page 4.
If still no go, look at the bottom of page 5, you will see a special usb wakeup driver for xp. Try this.
If still no go try the card bus driver on page 3.
There are also two ACPI on page 2 that might help.
   If you try all those, and still no go, I would suggest making sure you have the most current bios.
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rindiCommented:
If you connect other devices, like mice etc, do they work? Have you tried another port on your laptop?
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beemmerAuthor Commented:
I have tried all the usb port with the same results.  I plugged a keyboard and mouse into the same ports and they both worked.  I also went into "services" and started everything that i thought was related to storage, plug & play and their dependencies but nothing has helped.  

Could there be a setting in BIOS that is causing this?
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Jeff PerkinsOwnerCommented:
It's possible you may just have some corruption in the usb port drivers and software.  This is not uncommon, and often results from removing a hard drive or flash drive while it is still in use, without properly ejecting the drive.
    First, restart the computer in question without any external devices plugged in, and then try the hard drive or flash drive again.
    If that fails, remove all external usb devices, then go into Device Manager and under the Universal Serial Bus Controllers, uninstall all devices in that list.  AFter uninistalling all of these, then restart the computer, Windows will find the hardware again and resinstall the devices and everything should start working.  
    If this fails, it's highly likely that your usb ports have failed on your board, and taking it to a good shop for diagnostics will confirm.  Most of the time, the ports are not seperate and a board is too costly to replace, but it's worth asking about.
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Jeff PerkinsOwnerCommented:
Ok, I posted while you were posting, and didn't see the mouse and keyboard worked... that means there is nothing wrong with the ports, so you just need to follow my instructions to have your usb drivers refreshed above.  If that doesn't work, post back and we'll find another solution.
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rindiCommented:
You'd have to look in the BIOS yourself if there is any such setting, but that isn't very common. run hijackthis and attach the log you get:

http://free.antivirus.com/hijackthis/
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johnb6767Commented:
"and started everything that i thought was related to storage,"

Assuming that included the "Removable Storage" service?

They do not show in Disk Management?

Look in C:\Windows for the setupapi.log, and post it here please.....
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Jeff PerkinsOwnerCommented:
Did you purchase this laptop new?  It's not a company laptop is it?  there might be a domain policy turning off external storage devices.....
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beemmerAuthor Commented:
Okay, I uninstalled all usb hubs & usb controllers & re-booted windows xp. After that windows would not recognize anything I plugged into the usb ports.  In device manager it would see the device, such as the keyboard & mouse, but I had to tell it to update the driver by going to the internet & downloading the driver for that specific device.  
   
    If I pull the mouse out of one usb port and plug it into another I have to go into device manager and update the driver all over again.  

   Reply to johnb6767:
   I did find "Removable Storage" and started that service, but that didn't help either.  

   And, no it does not show up in disk management either.  I have worked on hundreds and hundreds of computers over the past several years and have never seen this before.    But then I was not able to go any further because my customer came to pick up his computer, so he said he will bring it back to me later and let me finish finding the problem.  I really hated to let it go because I wanted to find the solution to this problem.  (this wasn't even why he brought it to me in the first place.  I found this problem while working on something else on this machine.
   
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beemmerAuthor Commented:
Reply to riteheer:

No this is not a company laptop.  A customer brought this laptop to me.  He wanted me to install an internet filter and an ativirus program on it for him.  He has not been on the internet with this computer so I pretty much ruled out malware & viruses
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Jeff PerkinsOwnerCommented:
If you can get me the specifics for the laptop, I'll locate the chipset which should also include the usb hub drivers. I need the make and model, and if possible the serial number or if it's a dell the service tag #.  I know you have to wait until the laptop comes back, so we'll just monitor and wait. I'm sure we can help you get it figured out.
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beemmerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all or your help.  Here is the model number of the laptop:  Toshiba Satellite M115-S1061
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rindiCommented:
How about attaching the hijackthis log? It can help us find out the running processes, maybe one of them is causing the issue. I'm not really after malware...
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beemmerAuthor Commented:
Reply to rindi:
  I was going to do that also but my customer came before I had that chance.  I don't know when he will bring the laptop back.  I called him last night and he told me everything he was wanting to do on the laptop was working,  but I know if he attempts to plug in a backup drive he will run into trouble.  I pointed that out to him but he acted like it didn't bother him to much.   So it may be a while before he brings it back.  
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beemmerAuthor Commented:
The customer that I am dealing with is not getting back with me so I cannot complete my investigation
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