Question about Dell Inspiron 5160 Notebook

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External hard drive

Laptop does not recognize my western digital external harddrive "My passport Essential" 160GB. my home PC does recognize drive, so it is in working order. Both computers run on XP. WD could not fix problem and told me it's an USB problem with DELL, Dell refuses to help me unless I pay a 40 dollar technical support fee.
i read that many laptops have problems with not having enough power in the ports. could that be my problem?

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  • isassy May 26, 2008

    laptop does not recognize my western digital external harddrive "My passport Essential" 160GB. my home PC does recognize drive, so it is in working order. Both computers run on XP. WD could not fix problem and told me it's an USB problem with DELL, Dell refuses to help me unless I pay a 40 dollar technical support fee.
    i read that many laptops have problems with not having enough power in the ports. could that be my problem?

  • isassy May 26, 2008

    I am not sure that this is a problem. I read that a few laptops have that problem, so I was speculating. Does anybody think it could be something else instead?

  • isassy May 26, 2008

    I called Dell already, since the drive worked immediately on my home PC (also a Dell). My laptop is not under warranty anymore and a technical support question would cost me 40 Dollars. It's not about the money but I would like to pay that and know they can actually help me. Not a big Dell fan anymore, so my trust in them is shot. I have two slots in the back of my laptop, we bought a thing that plugs into the side of my laptop and it provides me four additional slots. Some of them recognize the drive but still refuse to install because it's looking for a CD or software (the drive doesn't come with either) and the ones in the back both recognize it but give me the same installation problem.

  • will_chase Nov 18, 2008

    Western Digital My Book external hard drive, 400 gb Essential Edition.

    I have two Dell desk top computers one with Vista Home Edition and one with Windows XP Pro. I can not get my External Hard Drive to work on either one. It was working on one when it had Windows XP home edition.

    Now I have updated to XP Pro and it stopped working.

    A widow pops up stating that it discovered new hardware and is searching for a way to install the programs to run it. Then it ends up telling me to insert the software or notify the provider to download the necessary software. Of course Western Digital will not allow me to download the drivers because I bought the hard drive over one year ago. Is there any other way to extract the drives and/or software for the external hard drive itself? I was thinking that if that were possible, then I could burn them on a CD and just install them myself..


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There is no enough power in you USB port. I was have similar problem with my old PC (Duron 1.3GHz, I don't know what motherboard).

When I conected HDD (My passport Essential) to USB (there is only USB 1.1 port on this MB, and probably if you have USB 2.0 you will have no problem), hardware wizard is started, looking for drivers (which are not needed to install portable HDD), and then I have message like "unrecognized USB device ...".

SOLUTION: On this MB there is 6 USB 1.1 ports, but only 2 are connected on case (with plugs on case outside), others are on MB and if you have cable you can use it. In my BIOS all 6 were turned on, and I think there must be a problem with power on chip (you have some power divided with 6 ports, and this is not enough for HDD).

I turned off my other USB ports in BIOS, and left only fist two, and HDD is now in my computer ....

Posted on Nov 10, 2008

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If you believe that it could be that, get an external, powered USB hub with a mains adapter. That might add enough power to the ports to allow the drive to run.

Posted on May 26, 2008

  • Edward Sheldon
    Edward Sheldon May 26, 2008

    I haven't met the problem where a modern day laptop has any difficulties with power. Many modern day laptops have between two and four USB2 ports which can directly use any USB device currently on the market, so I can't see how the fault would be in the laptop unless there was actually a motherboard issue. Certainly hard drives are very low on energy consumption because most have their own power adapters. If for some reason your laptop can't use it, try plugging it into another PC. If that has no problems then tell Dell there is a problem that requires a warranty repair, and they shouldn't charge you.

  • Edward Sheldon
    Edward Sheldon May 26, 2008

    There should be no drivers under XP or Vista for any hard drive or USB key - it installs as a "mass storage device" which is a very basic device and fully natively supported by the operating system. It can clearly see the device, but for some reason it's not reading the correct "class" or ID for the device as a hard drive. This is most likely not down to power.

    As the motherboard on the machine controls all the USB ports, if it's the controller chip on the motherboard all the USB ports are going to have the problem. The only way to prove beyond all doubt would be to use a PCMCIA card with USB ports built in, but that's going to cost more than Dell want to charge. To my mind, there is no actual technical solution to this, it's most definitely from what you've said a hardware problem, and quite likely on the motherboard of the laptop.

    If it's out of warranty then you are going to have to weigh up the pros and cons of getting it repaired. Approach Dell not for technical support, but for a repair quotation for replacing the motherboard and see what they come up with. From that you can decide whether or not it's viable to repair, or whether you could get some money back selling the machine sold-as-seen on Ebay or through the local paper (remember to let the buyer know that there are problems, and what your suspicions are) and put the money you raise towards a new laptop.


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