What's the deal with my PC's USB ports?
July 19, 2007 3:03 AM   Subscribe

My new HP printer/scanner/copier doesn't want to play nice with ... well, everything.

Ever since I installed the thing, funky things have been happening with my PC. First I had trouble printing with it. An hour or so with HP tech support resolved that, but then last night the device wouldn't scan; the PC couldn't locate the scanner, according to the error message. An hour or so with tech support again resolved it -- until this morning, when the same problem happened.

On top of that, the new iPod I bought after installing the printer won't sync. The error message I keep getting tells me it's corrupted; I can't even restore it to factory settings. It's possible, of course, that the iPod really is on the fritz, but the timing has me curious. Is it possible that the HP device effed up the USB ports? Before chucking both the printer and the iPod and getting new ones, I thought I'd check out the collective wisdom here. Thanks!
posted by shallowcenter to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Collective wisdom might give you better answers if we knew
  • what model HP printer
  • how it's connected to the computer (From your post, I assume via USB, but you know what they say about assuming)
  • exact error messages (including any funky looking numbers)
  • what operating system you use, inlcuing version (ie Win XP with Service pack 2, Vista, Win98, Mac OSX 10.4, etc.)
Troubleshooting from very generic information is about as fruitful as using ESP to win the lottery, I'm afraid.
posted by romakimmy at 3:47 AM on July 19, 2007

Good points, roma. HP Photosmart C3180 connected via USB to a Dell running Windows XP. The error message is along the lines of "An error occurred communicating with the scanning device. Please ensure that the scanning device is connected properly and try again."
posted by shallowcenter at 4:29 AM on July 19, 2007

It's a long shot but..
If your device is expecting to draw "some" power from USB and you've connected it through a hub, you may not be supplying the required current.. My Epson scanner won't power up at all unless connected directly to a USB port on my motherboard (without going through the hub) even though I have a mains powered hub.

I know your device will be plugged into the mains but it's maybe worth a try connecting directly if your using a hub.
posted by TheAspiringCatapult at 4:56 AM on July 19, 2007

Now we're cookin' with gas. Note: The following suggestions are what I would do if it were my computer. I'm a dork, screw around with various operating systems on a semi-regular basis, and don't mind breaking and fixing things. Obviously you're not me, it's not my computer, and I don't know what your level of expertise is. Thus ends the disclaimer.

This is the main support page for scanner problems with your exact model. And this would appear to be your exact problem. I'm not sure what steps HP support had you go through, but I would* follow the steps listed in the second link.

If that doesn't work, I'd try to get the PC back to its 'working' state pre-printer and pre-iPod and begin troubleshooting each device one at a time by doing the following
  • Write down the software version numbers of both the HP & iPod software. You usually find this in the Toolbar of the programs under 'Help' > 'About Program FOO'
  • completely uninstall the Hp software.
  • See if the iPod works now. If not, I'd uninstall the iPod software. (NB: I don't have an iPod, and thus am not sure if this would also mean uninstalling iTunes or what. When in doubt, make a backup.)
  • If you have it enabled (and IIRC it's enabled by default), I'd then use XP's system restore to roll back the computer to a point previous to the first installation of the printer/HP software/iPod installation. Start > Programs > Accessories > System Utilities > System Restore and follow the wizard. That should be correct, more or less. My XP version is in Italian.
  • Check for (and if the versions you had installed are an older version, download) the latest version of the programs. For your printer, you can find those here. I personally would try the basic version first, as I find HP's full version to be annoying bloatware, but YMMV and you might need/want all the bells & whistles. For your iPod, check Apple's support site, as I'm not sure what version you have.
  • Since the HP support page detailing your problem has that nice little phrase about "problems with USB universal host controllers", I'd reinstall the iPod stuff first, as like yourself, my hunch would be that the iPod problems stem from the printer bollocksing the USB stuff.
  • iPod working? Awesome. Move on to reinstalling the printer.
  • iPod not working? Uninstall and rollback again, then begin reinstalling the printer. Here I wish, I could be of more help, but as I already mentioned, i don't have an iPod.
  • If you still have problems with the printer/scanner after a fresh reinstall of the latest software, begin following the steps listed in the second link.
If it's still not working, we'll have to see what other collective wisdom springs up. If you contact HP support again, fully detail in chronological order all the steps you have gone through to this point.

*Make sure you're using an account with Administrator privledges. XP's default main user usually does, which is usually pointed to as a big security flaw, but debates thereof are for another time and place.

If you're not sure if your account has Admin powers, click Start > Settings > Control Panel > Users. It should say something similar to "Computer Administrator" under the user account.

And apologies if I'm preaching to the choir; just trying to cover all bases.

posted by romakimmy at 6:17 AM on July 19, 2007

All in one devices are always a pain in the butt. I recommend returning it and getting one device for each thing you want to do.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:56 AM on July 19, 2007

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