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Problems With Desktop Computer BIOS Booting When External Hard Drive Is Connected To Front 2.0 USB Port. ...Why? ...Reason? ...Fix?

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Issue: Hello. I have a custom-made desktop computer that has the ASUS P5Q (regular model version with the most PCI port connectors in the P5Q series) motherboard (already 3 years old now). I have had issues with connecting my Seagate FreeAgent Desk 1 TB 2.0 USB external hard drive cable connection when connecting to either of my two desktop tower’s front panel’s 2.0 USB ports. What happens when I connect this external hard drive’s USB cable to the one of the two front panel’s 2.0 USB ports FIRST BEFORE powering up the desktop computer, the initial BIOS screen that normally quickly flashes before me, will hang indefinitely on the initial BIOS screen. When I unplug it, sometimes, but not always; the BIOS will proceed on with the booting process and then on to the startup of my Windows 7 64-bit operating system.

NOTE:

1. The Seagate FreeAgent Desk 1 TB 2.0 USB external hard drive has a separate power source that uses a power adapter that is plugged into the power source outlet prior to powering up the desktop computer too.

2. The desktop tower’s front panel’s 2.0 USB ports are connected via cable to one of the ASUS P5Q’s (motherboard’s) 2.0 USB connectors internally inside the computer tower.      

Now, I also have installed separately a 4 port USB 2.0 PCI card into my motherboard where I can attach any 2.0 USB hardware’s cable into one of the 2.0 USB ports located on the BACK of my desktop tower. Now, when I connect this same 2.0 USB cable from this same Seagate external hard drive instead into any one of the 4 port USB 2.0 PCI ports FIRST BEFORE powering up the desktop computer, the initial BIOS screen WILL flash before me while the BIOS completes and the Windows operating system will boot successfully without any hesitation. The process of BIOS/system start is fine when I use any one of the 4 port USB 2.0 PCI ports on the BACK of my desktop tower.    

Question:

1. Why am I having problems with my desktop computer BIOS booting when connecting my Seagate FreeAgent Desk 1 TB 2.0 USB external hard drive to any one of my desktop computer’s tower’s FRONT panel’s 2.0 USB ports and NOT when connecting with any one of my 4 2.0 USB ports located on the BACK on my desktop computer’s tower when I initially boot my computer’s BIOS?

2. What is the reason for this?

3. How can I still use my desktop computer’s tower’s FRONT panel’s 2.0 USB ports too without any issues like my BIOS freezing up?

Thanks!    
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Commented:
Have you tried updating the BIOS?

It is possible that the front ports are controlled by some other USB controller than the ports in the back.  If your motherboard has more than one set of pins for USB ports, try a different set.  
Aaron TomoskyDirector, SD-WAN Solutions
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Commented:
Probably trying to boot off the drive. What's your boot order? Make your internal first.
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Commented:
This was a problem with some mobos from around that time.

Some could be fixed by Disabling USB devices from the boot order.
Others with a BIOS update.
But most just flat refused to boot with a USB hard drive plugged in. I never heard a good reason why, it just seems that the BIOS insisted on trying to boot from it first.

The reason the 4 port PCI card works OK, is the BIOS does not check it for drives.
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Top Expert 2012

Commented:
I would say your motherboard chipset or motherboard USB ports have a problem and this causes the boot problem.  It seems that plugging a USB device inserts it into the boot sequence, which is unintended behavior.  You can try looking for a BIOS update that fixes this from the manufacturer, or you can run the USB leads for the front panel to the card in the back.

Author

Commented:
> all:

Hi! I have not forgot you all. I recently got a dreaded Trojan and a couple of spreading viruses on my computer and I in the process of eradicating them. I cannot test your answers for the solution now without exposing my clean external hard drive with my backed up data to your suggestions to my infected system. So, once I get them cleaned out, I will test your comments. Thanks for being patient.
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Commented:
Not a problem. Happy hunting.

Author

Commented:
> all:

I am back. The malware issue is defeated. Now, with your comments:

> ekincam:

Hi. Yes, I have the latest version for my BIOS update at 2209 installed for some time now. Still when using the front onboard USB 2.0 ports, I get the same hanging issue at computer boot. All the internal motherboard USB 2.0 pins sets are the same. I think you make a valid point “that the the front ports are controlled by some other USB controller than the ports in the back”. I have a question to ask you, is there a way to determine this if this is true that isn’t too difficult to determine?

> arrontomosky:

Hi. Interesting point about “trying to book off the drive”. I do not know if my ASUS P5Q motherboard can do that or not? I see the option in my BIOS settings for setting the USB device, but there are no USB options under boot device priority. Actually, right along I have made my internal hard drive that has the system partition on it the first boot device.

> coral47:

Hi. First, thanks a lot for the history. I wonder if that issue has been resolved ‘now’? Like I said to arrontomosky, I do not see any setting in my BIOS that I am aware that has settings that includes USB devices under booting order or booting device priority. I do have the latest BIOS update that is 2209 for my particular motherboard for some time now. Your latter statement sounds comforting that I am not alone (“But most just flat refused to boot with a USB hard drive plugged in. I never heard a good reason why, it just seems that the BIOS insisted on trying to boot from it first.”).

I think you make the best answer when you say, “The reason the 4 port PCI card works OK, is the BIOS does not check it for drives
”. I personally do NOT think it is an issue THAT CAN BE FIXED. coral47 tends to think that way. Some of the others who have responded tend to think otherwise and there is something more at work here? THAT IS MY “REAL” QUESTION: IS THIS NORMAL OR NOT for a front USB 2.0 that connects internally to a USB 2.0 pin set on the motherboard to NOT ALLOW a USB hard drive hardware peripheral to be connected at computer boot/Windows 7 start? To test this, I have a small 2 GB USB 2.0 flash drive that I connected to one of the two front onboard USB 2.0 ports. This did not hang the system at all. So why this external hard drive causing all the issues? So it doesn’t make since. Please reply.

> Callandor:

HI. You think it is a physical hardware or program software issue? You also think there is the boot device priority issue like aarontomosky and coral47 allude too as well. In terms of a program software issue, I installed the latest versions of Marvell 6121 SATA Driver V1.2.0.69 for 32/64bit Windows7 and Marvell 88SE6111 SATA Controller Driver V1.2.0.69 for Windows 7 & Windows 64bit 7 (WHQL) from the ASUS website for my motherboard and still no fix. In addition, I installed the P5Q BIOS 2209 as I flashed it into my BIOS. Still no answer to this issue.

> all:

I have figured there a 3 principle areas with my motherboard that associates with USB 2.0 connections:

1. The front onboard USB 2.0 ports panel – that connect to the motherboard USB 2.0 connectors at the bottom of my ASUS P5Q motherboard. Response: Hangs indefinitely during computer boot/system start. Is NOT detected inside “Computer” (Windows Explorer) and NOT under Disc Management (hangs, then shows this external hard drive as “931.51 Unallocated” space) when plugged in ‘following’ the completion of Windows 7 loading. I even found when I click on a shortcut to open any web browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox while the USB 2.0 cable is plugged into the front onboard USB 2.0 port, that either web browser will not open until I unplug the USB 2.0 cable from the front onboard USB 2.0 port. Once I unplug it from the front onboard USB 2.0 port, either web browser instantly loads.

2. The real panel connector ports on the motherboard – particular the USB 2.0 connector ports, are very responsive. Response: Does not interfere with computer boot/system start. Is detected under “Computer” (Windows Explorer) and Disc Management with any external hard drive’s individual drives/partitions.

3. The USB 2.0 PCI card – that is connected to one of the PCI connectors on the motherboard. It very poorly responsive unlike number 2 above. Response: Like number 2 above, does not interfere with computer boot/system start. Is detected under “Computer” (Windows Explorer) and Disc Management with any of the  external hard drive’s individual drives/partitions.

What and why are the reasons for this distinction or differences of the different principle areas with my motherboard that associates with USB 2.0 connections?    
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Top Expert 2012

Commented:
Not all USB PCI cards work equally well with different motherboards.  You can try a different brand that uses a different chipset from the one you have.  Your USB ports in the back work fine, so your drivers are ok, but your front panel ports are connected to ports that don't seem to work properly.  I can't recommend anything other than resetting the BIOS to clear out any strange settings and see if that fixes them.
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Commented:
I found this, looks worth a try: (post #24 of 25)
http://www.overclock.net/t/142252/armor-jr-front-usb-problem/20

He had to split the USB plugs between the 2 mobo headers to get it to work.

In an earlier post, he said it would boot when he installed W2K, but would still hang when he reinstalled XP.

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Commented:
Also look at post #25. It references another earlier post (from page  2) about disconnecting the Ground wire, as a fix.

But it only sort of work for this guy (post #23).
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer
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Commented:
There are apparently some external devices that annoy some motherboards.  I have just retired an Intel D865PERL that gave long and faithful service, but it would not boot with a Toshiba 4GB pen drive attached.  Other brands of pen drives, no problem.  USB hard drives, no problem.  USB card reader with cards installed, no problem.  USB non-storage devices, no problem.  I have seen this on a few other motherboards as well.

Author

Commented:

> all:

> anyone:


Hello again. Sorry for the ignoring this thread. I see we were getting now where here, so I decided to give this question/thread a rest for several days so I would forget it about and come back with a different frame of mind. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick-up anything different as a second complete pass. I was hoping I would find something different when redoing the steps/comments here over again.

> Callandor:

Hello again. I did what you said about updating my motherboard’s BIOS (with the same version which happens to be the latest I previously installed a while ago) and no such luck! ¿

> coral47:

Hello again too. I read the online weblink and was impressed with what they discovered. Unfortunately, the pin connectors that come off the USB 2.0 cable that runs to the USB 2.0 front two ports has its connector as ONE COMBINED PIN CONNECTOR PLUG and not two separate pin connector plugs. That would have been a ‘great test’ to see what is going on! If even the pin connectors were separate right down to the 4 colored wires in the USB 2.0 cable that connects to each of the pins on the motherboard, then I could even try that even out -- that grounding wire issue you discussed in your last comment as well.

Any more ideas you wish to share with me? I am being opened minded here. I feel I am reaching a dead end however! I am wondering if DrKlan's comment is right? Thanks for your help!
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Commented:
>> ...has its connector as ONE COMBINED PIN CONNECTOR PLUG...

I was afraid of that. Do you have room to off-set the connector so only 1 set of pins are connected?
You will probably need to do the side without the plugged hole onto the header with the missing pin.

I don't know what you level of experience is, or what pieces/parts you have laying around, but it is also possible to remove the wires and put them into single connectors.
It's not hard, but it does take a delicate touch.

Author

Commented:
> coral47 & anyone:

Hello. Unfortunately, the WHOLE PIN CONNECTOR PLUG is ONE; NOT two completely different sets either.

I have built many computers in my time. I see what you are suggesting. I do have a savvy tech store in my area.

I am going to combine EE expert forces now. What I mean is I think I see something going on here and it is unexpectedly related now to another issue I posted here on EE. I posted another thread/question for a ‘different’ issue of this particular hard drive at a different time here on EE in a different EE zones. I have had both experts working together on each one of my threads/questions for some time now as each thread/question is trying to solve their own issue and both are coming to the conclusion that it may be hardware related in some capacity. I will provide you the other EE link below and I am going to alert the other experts on the other thread/question of this particular thread you are working on this as well. I think more minds working together at this point will quickly provide an answer and solution to this issue. You may comment back on this thread/question as your questions/threads origin… …and/or work with the other EE experts on the other thread/question to arrive at some conclusion that I never thought there may be some commonality going on here. It is amazing that right now, EE experts at now arriving at a similar conclusion. This combining of forces was not intended to happen, but now it is best that it did.

The other EE webpage to reference:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/Windows_7/Q_27450123.html       

Thank you!
IT Product Manager
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Top Expert 2009
Commented:
I can tell why your BIOS hung when USB HDD was connected to the fron "faulty" USB connector.
Normally the PC startup process shows how many disks you have, their model and type and in some BIOSes even the size. And in your very case all attempts of BIOS to get this information from front attached drive fail. Due to the problems with connector.
Try to get similar front USB controller: http://www.amazon.com/SilverStone-FP32B-Aluminum-3-5-Inch-Drive/dp/B000JK7FMW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322872071&sr=8-1
connect it to the connectors on mobo and test the drive.
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Top Expert 2012
Commented:
The information from your other thread had very important information, and I conclude that your bottom USB port is broken.  As noxcho pointed out, the broken port stopped your boot process because it couldn't correctly detect all drives.

Author

Commented:
Thank you for determing the cause of this issue!

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