Author Topic: Computer issues; help desperately needed  (Read 2037 times)

Rhothgar

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Computer issues; help desperately needed
« on: September 14, 2015, 06:50:27 PM »
Just as I think things are finally getting into a rhythm, my computer starts acting up. Here's a bit of history:

An old friend, a computer guru, was building himself a new computer. He took his old parts (probably used for about 3 years) along with some new ones and put together this computer for me. I don't know much about the specs. The computer has had a few little quirks from day 1. For example, neither of the CD drives has ever ejected when you push the eject button (you have to stick a paper clip in the hole to get the tray to eject). And there is a card in the back with 4 USB ports that has never worked. The kinds of things that you can live with... Until now.

Both the keyboard and mouse plug into USB ports. On that same panel, near by bottom are 4 more USB ports. 2 of those 4 USB ports have been temperamental for a few months, possibly longer. For example, I plugged my Kindle into one and the charging light came on right away, but the computer didn't "detect" the Kindle until a few days later. All of a sudden that little box came up asking what I wanted to do with the Kindle I plugged in. That was yesterday and since then that same little box has come up about 4 times. The other 2 USB ports have worked fine... One has the printer plugged into it, the other has a Passport drive. Both are things that are almost rarely unplugged from the USB (once or twice a month we'll occasionally need to print something from the laptop or need to copy something from the laptop onto the passport drive, after which we always plug them right back into the main computer).

Yesterday, we printed out the packing slips for a couple of items we sold. A couple of hours later, my wife tried to print out a recipe but got an error message. She tried it two or three times before giving up and just bookmarking the page. We then plugged the printer into the laptop to print out a return label from there (we try to use the laptop for our buyer account and the main computer for our seller account so as not to have to log in and out repeatedly). We plugged the printer back into the main computer and went to bed.

This afternoon, I went to print out the labels to mail my Amazon orders (2 of them!), and lo and behold the printer wouldn't work. The message simply says error. I tried printing a test page and that came up with an error, too, and wouldn't print. So, we tried plugging the printer into all the other USB ports, but still got the same error. Starting to panic at this point, I restarted the computer (totally forgetting that there was a label in the printer queue). I brought up my anti-virus program and the label in the queue printed! I went through the anti-virus, created the second label and it wouldn't print. Same error message. So, I tried plugging the printer into the USB port for the keyboard, but still nothing. I plugged the printer back into its usual USB port, plugged the keyboard back in to where it was and restarted the computer. The keyboard and mouse refused to work. Getting more and more frustrated, I drove my wife over to a friend's house and came back home (about 10 minutes total). Tried logging into the computer and both the keyboard and mouse were working again and the label (which this time I intentionally left in queue) printed a few minutes after I logged in.

I quickly ran the packages to the PO and am now posting... Hoping someone can help.

Thanks,
David
p.s. We haven't tried printing anything else since the second label.

erltprl2

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Re: Computer issues; help desperately needed
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2015, 09:38:50 PM »
Using the best of the USB ports, plug a bunch of splitters in

Random example:
http://www.amazon.com/Insten%C2%AE-7-Port-USB-Switch-Black/dp/B007S642BW/

They can be daisy chained up to 256 or some such more than you need number
Interesting!

vly3

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Re: Computer issues; help desperately needed
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2015, 03:46:18 PM »
The USB port splitter is worth trying.  It is also possible that something is gummed up in the software.  You can test that possibility by booting with a live boot CD from a Linux distribution, such as Knoppix, and seeing if the USB ports work when running Knoppix.  You can test the ports under Knoppix by plugging a mouse or keyboard into each port and seeing if it works.  If the ports work under Knoppix, but not when you boot Windows, then you can either try to figure out what the problem is, or just do a fresh reinstall of Windows and all your software.  I generally just do a fresh reinstall of Windows because it is easier than troubleshooting.  If the ports don't work under Knoppix either, then it is a hardware problem.  In that case you can try a port splitter on a good USB port as Earl suggested, or install a new USB card into one of the motherboard slots if that is possible.  If the frustrations become too much, a new computer is another option.

vly3

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Re: Computer issues; help desperately needed
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2015, 04:11:50 PM »
Another possibility - if these are old USB ports, it may be a loose connection inside the USB port.  USB ports have little springs inside them that keep the connection tight.  These springs wear out and then the connection becomes loose and intermittently fails.  If you search google on "fix loose usb ports" you'll find some videos and instructions on how to bend the little springs up to make the ports tight again.  I use a dental pick with a curved tip to reach under the spring and bend it up, but people use other tools too.

Old and In The Way (aka Lake)

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Re: Computer issues; help desperately needed
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2015, 04:59:07 PM »
In general all of the USB ports on the back of the computer are equal.

The same USB controller runs all of the ports.

If you buy a USB hub, buy one with its own power adapter.

The CD drives if they are 3 years old are crap They have a short lifespan. Replacements cost under 20 bucks. And that replacement could even be a DVD writer at that price.

In my experience, systems that start getting intermittent are often suffering from a dying power supply. $25 will buy a replacement, and most people who are capable of drawing a diagram of where the plugs go, and removing 4 screws can replace a power supply.