I have a Western Digital WD Elements external hard drive. When I plug it into my laptop, the laptop behaves like there has been a short circuit and restarts immediately. After the restart, everything goes back to normal.

Here are the facts that give me trouble:

  1. If I plug the device into one specific port, the computer does not restart. It happens if I plug the device in the remaining three ports. Those remaining three ports are USB 3.0, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.

  2. The device does not cause this behavior in any other port of any other laptop.

  3. No other external hard drive cause this problem in my computer.

I am using Windows 10 Pro operating system, and I have tested WD Elements with other computers using Mac, Windows and Linux.

  • 1
    Is the 'working' port USB2 and the 'broken' ones USB3? Maybe it does short-circuit but only on the USB3 additional pins? – grawity Jul 9 '18 at 10:12
  • 2
    It's possible that this particular harddrive draws more power than the particular laptop can provide (and goes over USB spec), which would explain while it only fails in this combination. Test: Use a powered hub and plug in the harddrive into the hub. If it doesn't restart (or if the hub goes down...), that was the reason. – dirkt Jul 9 '18 at 10:29
  • @grawity No, the working one is USB 3.0 and others are 2.0 2.0 3.0 – padawan Jul 9 '18 at 10:38
  • @DrZoo There are no bad ports. Every port is working perfectly unless I plug in a specific external hard drive – padawan Jul 9 '18 at 14:32
  • @padawan sorry I read the last part wrong. What do you mean by after the restart, everything goes back to normal? Does it restart and then you can start using that drive that was put in the port and made it restart? – DrZoo Jul 9 '18 at 14:35

USB 3.0 can handle more power than USB 2.0: 500mA per USB 2.0 port maximum, vs. 900mA per USB 3.0 port. When spinning up, the HDD draws more current than when running, so it appears the USB 2.0 ports (and perhaps one USB 3.0 port) are a bit under-powered for this drive. As @dirkt states, the external HDD would probably work from a powered hub.

However, another possibility is that the Registry USBSTOR key caches information on the HDD that is causing the issue. It is possible to remove those entries using Regedit or, more conveniently, using the free tool USBDeview from Nirsoft.

  • But other USB 3.0 devices work for all ports. Is there any way that I can check what power does USH hubs have? – padawan Jul 9 '18 at 18:39
  • @padawan They make devices to test power output on over USB: amazon.com/Centech-USB-Power-Meter/dp/B00DAR4ITE – Justin Pearce Jul 9 '18 at 19:47
  • The current limits are not obeyed by all manufacturers, and there can be differences from lot-to-lot in production. Have you tried clearing USBSTOR, on the other hand? – DrMoishe Pippik Jul 9 '18 at 20:23
  • @DrMoishePippik yes, I did clean it. Nothing changed. – padawan Jul 9 '18 at 20:57

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