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Experiences with adding External Storage
Part B

By Rudy Wolf

For some reason I was not happy with the results that I obtained from my Firewire installation. Ever since Comdex 2000, I was waiting for USB 2.0. Last year (2001) USB 2.0 was a reality. Real products were on display — mostly just Host Adapters for PCI slots in computers. But with those available, I felt that items such as scanners, external CDs, DVDs etc. could not be far behind. Intel was exhibiting motherboards with USB outputs that were due for release the first quarter of 2002. In my eyes Nirvana could not be far behind. I could get rid of my SCSI scanner which is about 6 years old, my SCSI CD and CD-RW, upgrade to a Pentium IV 1 Gig plus, and have 1 Gig of RAM. The computer I am using is almost 3 years old, probably a year and a half longer than usual for me. What has held me back was a stock market that has decreased my savings quite a bit so I haven’t been ready to upgrade until everything I wanted was available. Anyway I was looking through the Sunday papers and came across a Staples advertisement that showed an external 40 GB USB 2.0 Maxtor Hard Drive with a Free USB 2.0 card for $149.99. Of course the card wasn’t really Free. You had to purchase it for $49.98, receive a $10 instant rebate and a $40 mail-in rebate, and the external drive had to be purchased at the same time. The external drive was $179.99 with a $30 rebate so, with tax, the real cost was about $167.00. I rushed out and made the purchase. Then the fun began.

Prior to the installation of the card, I was concerned that I might have some IRQ conflicts so I called Maxtor Tech Support. They were very helpful. They told me to make the install without worrying about conflicts because Windows would handle it. The installation of the four-port USB 2.0 card was straightforward. After the physical install, I rebooted the computer. The plug and play part of windows found the hardware and requested the driver disk. I did experience a problem here because the request was for a PCI serial driver, not the USB 2.0 driver that was indicated in the instructions, so I ended up looking in other places rather than the driver disk provided by Maxtor. The second time, I got it right and everything seemed to be okay.

Next was the connection of the Drive via the USB 2.0 cable. No problem here either. Power is supplied to the drive via a transformer in line to the drive, similar to the power supplies used by laptop and notebook computers. I like the 1394 Drive kit because the power supply is built into the case and I don’t have that transformer hanging there. The drive is preformatted. So after the connection, I was ready to go. I started by copying the files that I mentioned in my first article. I left the computer and when I returned, I was faced with what I call “the Blue Screen of Death” and you all know what that is.

Back on the phone to Maxtor. After only three selections and a short wait, I was speaking with a tech. I told him the problem and he suggested trying to copy some other files, smaller, or maybe groups, to see if I ran into the same problem. Well, in addition to that problem, I ran into at least one other problem. If the drive was powered up during computer boot-up, it wouldn’t boot up. It took 3 or 4 tries to make that determination. It seems that a .vxd file “Msgsrv32" was the culprit. I shut down the drive, was able to boot the computer, then turned the drive on and tried copying smaller files, but a whole bunch at once because that is how I planned to use it. Same thing—the Blue screen. One bright spot: one time I was able to get back to Windows without shutting down completely.

Back on the phone to Maxtor. This time I hooked up with the tech that answered my first query about the IRQs. Well he had me run “FDISK” and we found out that the partition (single) size was different that the drive size, which apparently causes problems. So he stayed on the phone while I deleted the partition, recreated it and formatted it. While he was still on the line I was successful in copying one large file, so I thought my problems were solved. Of course they weren’t. I tried copying some other large files created by Drive Image and once again the Blue Screen. I recreated the Drive Image files thinking that they may have been corrupted, but that didn’t help either.

Once again on the phone to Maxtor—different tech. Told her everything that had occurred and her solution was to back up all my data and reinstall my Operating System over the old install. She had a logical explanation for this. I don’t know if that would have worked but I didn’t want to try it, so today I returned the drive and card to Staples. Some other comments:

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