Problems transferring files to USB drives & SD cards.
February 11, 2006 9:55 AM   Subscribe

How do I get my Win98 PC to recognize USB drives & SD cards as additional drives, so I can transfer files to them from my hard drive?

I've got a Canon PowerShot SD400 (that I looove thanks AskMe for the recommendation). My older PC handles downloading images taken on it surprisingly well, but I can't get it to put images back on the card or onto a friend's USB thumb drive.

A related problem: I took my card to a friend's house and put jpegs taken on their camera onto my card, but now I can't get the camera to recognize them, or my PC to download them (at least, not through Canon CameraWindow - perhaps you can recommend other software that would work?).

I think all this would be solved if I could view the contents of whatever is hooked up to the USB port (ie: the thumb drive, or the SDcard hooked up through my camera) in Windows Explorer like I can on my friend's XP system. Is there a way to make this happen with drivers or something, or is it just Win98 showing its age? Is there a different solution?

Thank you for your help!
posted by raedyn to Technology (9 answers total)
The Google phrase you're looking for is: "Win98 USB mass storage".

Those devices are USB Mass Storage devices, and Win98 doesn't support USB very well natively. I *think* you must have installed software to let you download photos from the camera via PTP (though I'm not entirely sure why it wouldn't let you put images back on the card - maybe that Canon CameraWindow is just a piece of crap). You need to find some software, perhaps it came with the camera, perhaps not, to install drivers for USB Mass Storage. Perhaps this page?
posted by jellicle at 10:09 AM on February 11, 2006

I'm not sure if you have a card reader in addition to all of this. If so I suggest it. It's basically something you put the card from your camera into and it works like a USB drive on your computer. You will need the proper drivers for this to work, but I haven't had any trouble with this on my win98 laptop. When you do this, you can see the file structure and then it makes a lot more sense how to get pictures on to and off of your camera.

I have a Canon camera similar to yours and when it takes a picture it does more than just put a jpg onto the card, it also builds a thumbnail, and puts the filename into a little index. So, while you can obviously put pictures from any camera onto the card that comes with your camera, getting the camera to recognize it as something it could display on the screen of your camera is another matter. That said, if you get a card reader (they're like $5-10 pieces of plastic, you can pay more but you don't need to) you shouldn't need to use the camera as an intermediary and can just move the card back and forth between your friends computer and yours.

So, if you have a card reader, you can pretty much ignore the software that came with the camera for getting the images to your PC and just move them yourself. You may want to do ti the other way, but it's nice to have options.
posted by jessamyn at 10:23 AM on February 11, 2006

Have a look this thread. You'll find directions for a universal USB driver for Windows 98 SE which might be just what you need.
posted by grahamwell at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2006

And the distinction is critical -- do you have Win98, or Win98 SE? If it's the former, your USB port isn't of much use, in my experience.
posted by Rash at 12:57 PM on February 11, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the link grahamwell. That thread didn't come up in my searching of the archives here. Unfortunately, I've only got Win98, not SE. (Like I said, it's an old PC.)

I wondered if the card reader might solve my problems re: the SDcards at least, but I was worried that I'd still have the same problem of not being able to see the file structure. I'm encouraged by your experience, Jessamyn. Maybe it's worth a shot. I'll let you know...

I'm still happy to hear any suggestions people might have for getting this ancient peice of equipment to work with thumb drives. (Or maybe it's just a pipe dream)
posted by raedyn at 1:16 PM on February 11, 2006

I've only got Win98, not work with thumb drives

Theoretically even Windows 95B will work with USB thumb/flash drives, the problem is finding a compatible driver. Will 98SE drivers work with straight 98? The net says sometimes yes, sometimes no, depends on the drive and driver. See this thread, or this one. Memorex and Lexar are mentioned as working for Win 98 non-SE folks. Looks like you might possibly be stuck with very slow USB 1.1, although if your computer is old enough, that may be all your port supports anyway. (Windows 98FE is what you have if you don't have SE).
posted by mdevore at 3:14 PM on February 11, 2006

I've always heard that you need Second Edition or the USB drivers won't work. The docs for several pieces of USB hardware I've bought say that as well.
posted by rfs at 7:03 PM on February 11, 2006

I suggest a sufficient number of people say drivers worked for them using Windows 98 pre-SE, and who lack the motive to tell tales, to think it can be done for at least some systems. For companies who sell hardware or software, stating that a product works only under at a particular OS level and does not work for anything earlier is a common practice, because they do not wish to spend resources officially supporting a problematic platform that is, well, basically, obsolete. For that matter, I have written software which is not officially supported before a particular OS version, though it can work on earlier versions depending on the computer environment.

Microsoft seems to endorse the view that Windows 98 can support flash drives by having sample code for a USB mass storage device for Windows 98 available for download.
posted by mdevore at 7:33 PM on February 11, 2006

USB and Win 98 is like wrestling a squid, and not in a good way.

I recommend this web site, and you have to follow the instructions sequentially. For example, you need to make sure your BIOS is reading the USB ports [default is OFF]

I prefer to use Windows explorer interface to get files off my camera. Use Mass Storage or Removable Drive drivers. In regards to Canon's software.... fuggedaboutit. Their software is front-end heavy and back-end light.
posted by ohshenandoah at 8:12 PM on February 13, 2006

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