Making Firewire devices work with WinXP
December 12, 2005 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Firewire and Windows XP: I bought an external Firewire Drive on Ebay. When I plug it into a PC, it's not recognized, and the driver search does not go well. Similarly, if I start up my Powerbook G4 as a Firewire device, and hook it to my PC, Windows is again puzzled. What can I do to help Win XP succesfully work with these devices? Or should I send back the drive and pick my Firewire devices more carefully?

Here's the auction I bought the drive from. It's utterly generic, displaying absolutely no branding on both packaging and the device itself. It does work just fine when I plug it into my Powerbook. But when I plug it into the PC, it merely recognizes that it's new hardware and we start the driver search dance. It fails at locating things automatically, so I tried the CD that came with it (also branding-free) that contains:

• a folder called "mac"
• 2507RM.exe (apparently an uninstaller for a Win 98 USB-to-IDE Driver)
• 2507RM_silent.exe (which, true to its name, gives no sign of doing anything)
• PL2507S.inf
• PL2507U.INF
• Setup.exe (which starts an installshield process that quits, informing you it only works under Windows 98)

None of these files appear to be helpful. Windows does tell me that it's a "Prolific 3507 Combo Device (1394 ATAPI_Rev 1.00)" when I plug it in, and so I went to Prolific's site in hopes of finding the latest and greatest. Unfortunately, this seems to be all that's available. Notice it's all Win98 and ME stuff, which isn't helpful. I've also contacted the support email address listed in the auction last Friday morning, but have thus far gotten no response.

As for the Powerbook, it's a G4 667 DVI. I poked around to see if there were specific drivers for using Macs as Firewire devices, but can't seem to find anything. This isn't too important -- I mostly tried connecting it because it's the only other Firewire device I have handy to test with. But I'd like to know if this is theoretically possible.

The PC is a Sony VIAO Desktop running WinXP Pro SP 2. The Firewire Bus host controller says it's a "NEC OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller."

I'd really like to be able to (a) fix the problem and have all these devices get along, but failing that, I'd be happy to hear (b) advice on how to deal with the seller and eBay, because this may be my first returned item ever and (c) recommendations for External Firewire enclosures/drives that play well with both PCs and Macs.
posted by weston to Computers & Internet (25 answers total)
 
I can't help you with the drivers, but once it's installed, remember to go right click on My Computer, go to Manage, and then go to Storage -> Disk Management on the left hand side, as you'll probably need to format it.

I bought a 250GB Maxtor drive, which works great (although it runs in a USB 2.0 enclosure rather than Firewire).

As for eBay, their returns policy states that they only accept unopened stuff, and charge you to restock. Which is really, really bad practice, IMO, but hey. You may just have to write it off and leave bad feedback
posted by djgh at 7:50 PM on December 12, 2005


And by "their returns policy", I'm referring to the seller, not eBay themselves...
posted by djgh at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2005


I saw that in their return policy, but I figure if the item does not work with Windows XP as they've specified, that qualifies as an overriding consideration under eBay's terms or something like that. Does it?
posted by weston at 7:54 PM on December 12, 2005


Do you see the device under either disk management or device manager? If the disk appears in Device manager with a yellow warning icon there is something the matter with the drive as you shouldn't need drivers for a i1394 device under XP. If it appears in disk manager try formating the disk. Windows might ask you to write a signiture, if xp does go ahead it doesn't hurt anything.
posted by Mitheral at 8:01 PM on December 12, 2005


weston: I've had pretty bad luck with eBay actually giving a shit about customer satisfaction. Basically, if you got some sort of good, and the buyer got some sort of money, they're done.

Plus, it'd be easy for the seller to say "Oh, well, it's USB 2.0 Compatible with XP, not firewire" or something similar, so you're probably going to be stuck with the drive.

Given that, i'd try some further troubleshooting. I have had A LOT of trouble with firewire devices (i have a firewire motu 828) on my PC, but I chalk those up to buying a really cheap firewire card. If your firewire isn't on the mobo, i'd make sure it's seated properly and the drivers are installed -- if it IS on the mobo, I'd make sure the BIOS and the mobo drivers are installed and up to date.
posted by fishfucker at 8:04 PM on December 12, 2005


Have you double-checked that all your Sony drivers are up to date? It's possible the Firewire driver could be buggy. I wouldn't think you'd need a separate driver for a disk.... that should all be included in the base driver package, I'd think.

It does work if you plug it into the Mac? And have you tried it via USB? I realize you want to run it in Firewire mode... but if it works in USB, that proves that the drive is functioning properly. Just another data point.
posted by Malor at 8:07 PM on December 12, 2005


Mitheral: it appears in the Device Manager under "Other Devices" as "Prolific 3507 Combo Device (1394 ATAPI_Rev 1.00)." Am I understanding right that that's reason enough to suspect it's defective in some way?

Plus, it'd be easy for the seller to say "Oh, well, it's USB 2.0 Compatible with XP, not firewire" or something similar, so you're probably going to be stuck with the drive.

I just tried the USB scenario. It recognizes the device as an ATAPI-6 Bridge Controller, and then, if I tell it to auto-install, says:
The software you are installing for this hardware: Hi-Speed USB-IDE Controller has not passed Windows Logo testing to verify its compatibility with Windows XP. Continuing your installation of this software may impair or destabilize the correct operation of your system either immediately or in the future. Microsoft strongly recommends that you stop this installation now and contact the hardware vendor for software that has passed Windows Logo Testing.
I cancelled, the device appears in the device manager under USB Controllers.

Have you double-checked that all your Sony drivers are up to date?

I'm not completely sure how to do this. I found Sony's site fairly hard to navigate, especially for older machines (which this is... it's about two years old).

It does work if you plug it into the Mac?

Yep.
posted by weston at 8:19 PM on December 12, 2005


weston, you said it works when you plugged it into your Mac's firewire port. What file system has the drive been formated with? If it's been formatted with a Mac OS file system (such as HFS) then Windows won't mount the drive but will recognize the device.

To find the file system format: connect it to your Mac, single click the drive on the desktop, choose Get Info from the File menu and then examine the "Format:" field in the Info window. If it's been formatted with a Mac OS file system you'll need to reformat the drive using a Windows file system using either Disk Utility on the Mac or Disk Management on the PC.
posted by RichardP at 8:44 PM on December 12, 2005


Windows can't mount drives formatted in HFS, which Mac drives are formatted as by default (and your PowerBook's internal drive certainly is). Here's one of many previous AskMes on the topic.
posted by cillit bang at 8:50 PM on December 12, 2005


If it's been formatted with a Mac OS file system (such as HFS) then Windows won't mount the drive but will recognize the device.

I don't think this is the problem. The Mac lists the format as "Macintosh PC Exchange (MS-DOS)." I take it to mean that's FAT32.

(and your PowerBook's internal drive certainly is)

True. :) Maybe I'll give up on trying to mount the PB via Firewire on a PC.



And.... I just went back to try installing the Hi-Speed USB-IDE Bridge Controller Driver , despite the dire warning. After a bit of searching, it asked me to enter a disk (which seemed odd, considering it already supposedly knew what the driver was), which I didn't have. So I went a Googlin', ended up a DriverGuide.com, found something that said it was the Hi-Speed USB-IDE Bridge Controller Driver for most versions of Windows and... it's Win 98.

What is it with all the Win 98 stuff?
posted by weston at 8:59 PM on December 12, 2005


weston, Windows 98 does not include built-in support for USB hard drives. Every manufacturer who wants to support Windows 98 has to supply a custom USB disk driver for their device. Later versions of Windows include built-in support for USB hard drives that conform to the USB mass storage class specification, so on machines running newer versions of Windows no custom drivers should be needed. Mac OS is similar, since Mac OS 9 Apple has included a standard driver for USB hard drives, so long as the drive conforms to the USB mass storage class specification a Mac should recognize the device.
posted by RichardP at 9:10 PM on December 12, 2005


So... does this mean that it's likely this external drive isn't compliant with the USB mass storage class spec... and Mac OS X is just smart enough to mount it anyway?

Or does it mean that WinXP is missing something that keeps it from being able to read any device in compliance with the spec?
posted by weston at 9:26 PM on December 12, 2005


If you interested, you can use a Mac formatted drive in Windows using Macdrive
They offer a trial version available on their website.
posted by Sagres at 10:11 PM on December 12, 2005


weston, if you've confirmed that the drive is formated with a Windows filesystem (such as FAT32) and not with a Mac OS file system, and it mounts on a Mac and not a PC, then the drive probably has buggy firmware (or Windows has a buggy implementation of the USB mass storage spec). I've just checked the files in Mac OS X, while Apple does include some custom USB drivers with the OS, it doesn't include any for Prolific 3507. Apple pretty much just relies on their generic mass storage driver to support nearly all USB hard drives.
posted by RichardP at 10:13 PM on December 12, 2005


You might try and format the drive on the Mac, install Macdrive on the PC (free trial version) and then plug it in. I know it's not optimal, but it will probably work. Bonus: If you have a Mac formatted Ipod, Macdrive will allow you to use it with the Windows version of Itunes.
posted by Sagres at 10:21 PM on December 12, 2005


If you read through this thread about linux support for the prolific 3507, you'll find tons of complaints similar to yours. It might just be a bunk product. FWIW, I'd try returning it first, and then if you can't, try upping the firmware and seeing if that makes any difference.

Also, when it asks you to "insert disk" you can try directing it to the CD-ROM you got to see if it'll read from either of the INF files.

that's all i can think of right now. good luck.

You might try and format the drive on the Mac, install Macdrive on the PC (free trial version) and then plug it in. I know it's not optimal, but it will probably work. Bonus: If you have a Mac formatted Ipod, Macdrive will allow you to use it with the Windows version of Itunes.

I'm really not sure what this would do except create a lot of extra work for the poster -- is there some reason you would suggest trying this?

posted by fishfucker at 10:56 PM on December 12, 2005


if you've confirmed that the drive is formated with a Windows filesystem (such as FAT32) and not with a Mac OS file system, and it mounts on a Mac and not a PC, then the drive probably has buggy firmware

If you read through this thread about linux support for the prolific 3507, you'll find tons of complaints similar to yours. It might just be a bunk product.

Yeah. I'm just reading a thread an acquaintance emailed me this thread when I asked him for help. It definitely looks like I'm not the only person with these issues.

On the other hand -- I just got a hold of another device, a "SmartDrive" enclosure. Windows recognized it as a "Generic 1394 USB Combo", but again, wanted a driver rather than just mounting it. Is there anything that just plugs and plays?
posted by weston at 11:13 PM on December 12, 2005


ummm.

here's something interesting about decreased performance of firewire under SP2, which applies to 1394a firewire chipsets (which apparently the prolific is)

how is the drive powered -- does it have it's own plug? it seems that devices supposed to be powered by bus can have problems if you have other stuff on your firewire chain.

so you've never got any firewire devices working properly on your sony vaio?

i would look into new drivers. The sony site is ass, but they DO have drivers there if you dig deep enough (i used to have to support them 4 years ago at my work and their support site would time out several times during downloads -- annoying!)
posted by fishfucker at 12:45 AM on December 13, 2005


how is the drive powered -- does it have it's own plug? it seems that devices supposed to be powered by bus can have problems if you have other stuff on your firewire chain.

The drive does have its own power supply.

so you've never got any firewire devices working properly on your sony vaio? i would look into new drivers.

OK. I'll give it a shot. Thank you!
posted by weston at 6:06 AM on December 13, 2005


weston scribbled "Mitheral: it appears in the Device Manager under 'Other Devices' as 'Prolific 3507 Combo Device (1394 ATAPI_Rev 1.00).' Am I understanding right that that's reason enough to suspect it's defective in some way?"

Not necessarily, does it appear in Disk Manager?
posted by Mitheral at 6:10 AM on December 13, 2005


FWIW using Firewire to mount a scanner or external HD I have had no problems on Win2k or XPSp2. If there's an issue with the drive, given the previously mentioned complaints I'd suggest crappy firmware is the most likely issue here. Knowing that it doesn't even work properly with USB, well, that makes it even more likely to be crappy firmware - I have yet to see anything USB that failed to plug and play on XP. It should have built-in drivers or generic alternatives for basically anything.

Bonus is that it works with your Powerbook, so you could get some use out of it - that means if all else fails you aren't stuck with a completely unusable chunk of hardware.

PS the "dire warning" is Microsoft's way of trying to scare you into only using drivers they have given a stamp of approval to; 99% of the time there's no issue but if you have a problem with the OS the first thing to check is any unsupported drivers. Just means primarily that MS doesn't test against these drivers when releasing security patches, or that the company didn't pony up the $$ to obtain the fancy "Windows certified" sticker.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:36 AM on December 13, 2005


Thanks, live frogs (and everybody. This is all helpful.)

Not necessarily, does it appear in Disk Manager?

Mitheral: I have to admit to having little idea what this is or how to find it. </sheepish>
posted by weston at 7:27 AM on December 13, 2005


No problem. Right mouse click a my computer icon. Select Manage. Click on disk management in the left pane. You should see a graphic of your disks on the right.

In the grey lower right area along the left hand side you will see a list of the disks in your system. You should see something that would correlate to the FireWire drive. It won't have a drive letter association otherwise you'd be seeing it in Windows.
posted by Mitheral at 7:41 AM on December 13, 2005


Fishfucker: I suggested it because it worked for me. I too had a similar problem (different Laptop) with a drive I purchased. After downloading new firewire drivers etc without success, a tech at the Apple store suggested this route and it worked.
posted by Sagres at 8:28 AM on December 13, 2005


ok. my apologies then, for questioning it's effectiveness. Frankly, I'm still very surprised that it worked.
posted by fishfucker at 11:22 AM on December 13, 2005


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