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Internal all-in-one card reader on Windows XP back

Multicard-reader

I recently purchased an all-in-one card reader which fits internally into a PC in one of the 3.5 inch slots reserved for either a hard or floppy drive. This card reader communicates with the motherboard via a direct USB header. The manual and the vendor website both advertise that this reader is fully supported by Windows XP, meaning you expect to simply plug it in and it works. Guess what, it does not! The problem with this is the reader did not come with any driver CD, nor can I find it on Google anywhere, as there is no mention of the manufacturer.

I notice that the USB socket coming with the reader works perfectly. Also, whenever I plug in a card, Compact Flash, SD, whatever, the light comes on next to the card. This means there is connectivity, but something is causing the card interface part of the reader to not work. I searched and I searched, to finally notice in the midst of USB root devices in the Device Manager something out of place. The reason why I missed this to start with is usually the Device manager will show up problem devices with a red X next to it, whereas here it is not the case. The reader simply comes up as an unknown device in the USB root section of the Device Manager (Start->Run..->type "devmgmt.msc", hit Enter)

Card reader shows as unknow device

Updating the driver for the unknown device takes you nowhere. What this means is the device ID of the reader does not resolve into any known driver Windows knows about. It makes it rather frustrating because it is supposed to be a standard USB device. I have used this reader before in another computer, which shows up straight away as a list of Removable drives in Windows Explorer. Googling for this is pointless, as most hits will tell you there is no need for any additional driver, the others will tell you to upgrade the USB drivers for your motherboard (this Gigabyte motherboard does not have any specific USB driver). The rest of the links will tell you how to get it to work on Linux, which is probably going to be useful later on.

I was about to give up at this point, but the engineer in me told me to tinker on, so I started to uninstall various other drivers in the same group, with the faint hope of getting Mr XP to go search for newer drivers available possibly from the mothership, and guess what, where there is desperation, there is hope. As Dave Lister will say, even the word 'hopeless' has 'hope' in it. By chance, when I got to uninstall the "Standard Enhanced PCI to USB Host Controller", something miraculous happened! There were new devices being suddenly discovered left, right and centre, and before I knew it, all the removable drives were discovered and added diligently to Windows Explorer one by one. So, it seems, the card interface device for the various cards on my reader are compatible with the "Standard OpenHCD USB Host Controller" (second in the list), but not the "Enhanced PCI to USB Host Controller". What this means for the rest of us is that the USB interface for reading the cards is compatible with version 1.1 of the USB specifications, not version 2.0 (the faster, newer one). This is confirmed with the fact that my System Tray started to popup a warning telling me my devices will run faster if I upgraded myself to a better hub.

Slower USB warning

As you can see in the image below, the disabled Enhanced USB Controller resulted in the USB Mass Storage Device coming to life all by itself.

USB devices work with disabled enhanced driver
So, the trade off with having access to my removable drives is to see these warnings popping up in the right corner of the screen whenever I plug in a device. I guess it depends on whether this is enough of an annoyance until I get myself a new card reader. The problem here is there is no guarantee the new one will fare any better, at least not until after you have bought it to find out. Furthermore, I checked the USB card reader I bought and it definitely claimed to be USB 2.0 compatible !!!! Still, it did appear to be rather cheap (I am too embrassed to say where I bought it from ...)

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discuss (2 comments)
 by by David at 30 Nov 2008 13:59:34
Oh My God your my savior!!!! I was dealing with this problem for so long deleted my hard drive rebooted over 10 time's and still nothing then I stumble on this article and on Super Bowl Sunday I was here trying to fix this and finally at 11:58 You saved me fro throwing this computer down the street.!!! Many thanks!!!!
by Rafy Morales Jr at 02 Feb 2009 04:59:22
well! finally an answer for this problem.... but I couldn't make it work,,, first I disabled the enhanced one and rebooted, the I inserted an SD card and the system showed the faster USB message but it never appeared on the windows system, then I uninstalled the enhanced driver but when refreshing it was the first hardware to appear and install automatically which put me on the first place where I was... How did you make it work?
by camicov at 15 Sep 2009 15:55:39
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