Sunday, December 27, 2009

Enabling use of a large external USB drive with an older BIOS: disable legacy USB support

This is a pretty exotic fix, but I'm not the only one to run into the problem so I'll pass on what I learned (I found the link after I fixed the issue).

I have a vintage 2003 XP box Intel motherboard with an Intel P4 motherboard. It's needed periodic brain surgery but I make as few changes as possible. This is geriatric computing -- don't mess with things that work.

The most persistent annoyance I've had came when I moved to 1TB external drives for backup:
Gordon's Tech: My review: LaCie 1 TB USB 2.0 External Drive 201304U
... I discovered I couldn't start the system with the USB drive on. I have to restart with the drive off, then leave it off until startup is done. I don't think this was a LaCie problem, I suspect other causes...
I don't restart often, so I've mostly ignored this. I does cause some pain however, so recently I spent a few minutes plumbing the BIOS.

Briefly, I had to disable "legacy USB" support. Once that was done the system starts normally. I spotted this by turning on the BIOS settings to show all startup messages and do a full (slow) startup -- I could see it was hanging at a USB step just after checking the keyboard.

Since I was in the BIOS I made a few other incidental changes. I no longer use Serial or Parallel ports (yeah, old machine) so I disabled those. I also told the BIOS to use PnP (which I see I also did in 2003 so it looks like I reset the BIOS back to defaults sometime in the past six years).

See also:

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