Windows USB Gripe dujour

A little further down the path spearheaded by my USB bus runneth over post, I’ve hit a snag that, while minor, is starting to infuriate me in that “little pointy bit in your clothing that keeps jabbing you” way.
When clipper is docked, the docking station links it up with the vast array of USB devices I have scattered about my desk. Windows usually happily gives me the ‘baDOINK!’ sound of “I just reconnected to something” and occasionally I’ll get the little popup window saying something has happened (like a network device came online).
Recently though, while the laptop is sitting idle, I’ll get the USB ‘baDINK…. baDOINK’ sound from Windows. This is the sound made when something disconnects and reconnects, usually via USB. Cept I haven’t touched anything.
Okay, fine, some USB device is in ‘marginal’ mode, or may not be powered properly, or I have a twitchy port. All I need to do is find out which device is it. So I went looking for how to do that.
And looked.
And looked some more.
There doesn’t seem to BE a way to find out what devices are connecting and disconnecting.
Sure, I can find out what Windows thinks is connected (My Computer->Properties->Hardware->Device Manager->USB), but that is a static reference. If the device disconnects while I happen to be looking at that screen, I’m not even sure if it’ll update dynamically. But remember, these disconnects are happening randomly. I’m not going to spend my day staring at a device screen. I have a life to live.
Okay, fine. Must be in the Event manager. A device being connected to the system or disconnected must log the event somewhere, right? Okay, off I go to the ever-so-easy-to-find Start->Settings->Control Panel->Administrative Tools->Event Viewer, where I see ‘Application’ ‘Security’ ‘System’ and ‘Internet Explorer’ (IE is apparently so important it ranks it’s own logging category. Go figure)
It was a good theory. These baDOINK / baDINK system events apparently happen without leaving any form of audit trail as to what’s happening. The Event Log shows things where I undocked and redocked the laptop, but there is no mention of any event around the time I -know- this sound was happening (Just after I went to bed last night, about 12:30am. It was easy to remember because it annoyed me, and I had to get up and turn the sound off on the laptop). Event log? “Nope, everything is COPACETIC man! Nothing wrong here!”
As a last slap in the face of Windows, how would I diagnose this problem in Linux?
$ tail /var/log/messages
No doubt Microsoft will come out, sometime in the future, with a USB Logging and Analysis tool for debugging missing USB events – furthering their pattern of system ‘improvement’ via the whack-a-mole technique.

Dave Shevett


A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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4 thoughts on “Windows USB Gripe dujour

  1. My Sempron box started doing this kind of foolishness when the USB controller lost a bit of the magic smoke. Half of the ports on the board work just fine, while the other half work for about 5 minutes, then start going in and out of working order, and finally go ‘A USB device has malfulctioned’ even without anything plugged in!
    The one hit I found on the net says something about a bad USB cable. How many cables do you need to change? 🙂

  2. Don’t know if this would help or not but we recently had a Windows (XP pro) USB problem – if interested, we posted the entire Problem, Details and Solution at the following:
    – Basically, a USB memory stick device (related to our digital camera) seriously interfered with the installation of the new Windows Media Player v11 (WMP11) program. Solution involved disconnecting the USB device, installing the WMP11 program and then reconnecting the USB device. Problem was *completely* solved as far as we can see at the moment.

  3. My wife’s Sony laptop started making the bada boom / bada bing noise (that’s what I call it) when docked. I disconnected all of her USB devices, still did it. So I’m guessing it may be the USB hub in the docking station, or maybe a bad dock connection.

    Like you, I looked in vain for some kind of log, was surprised not to find one. I thought Windows logged every event down to the microsecond, including when I pass gas.

    I just stumbled across this utility, may give it a try this weekend:

  4. Bob, thanks for the pointer, I’ll take a look at it. Let me know if you have any positive or negative experiences with it!

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