Why is there a power surge on hub port when I connect my 2 TB external hard drive via USB?

Faizan A August 8, 2013

Whenever I connect my 2 TB Seagate external drive to any of my USB ports, my mouse and keyboard stop working and a message pops up:

power surge on hub port, USB device has exceeded the power limits

When I click that box and reset it, still the issue doesn’t resolve.

  1. Oron Joffe
    August 9, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Faizan, I think the error message is actually very instructive. Your hard disc requires more power than the USB port can provide. This problem is surprisingly common, and there are several ways to deal with it:
    1. Get a USB Y cable (e.g. http://www.amazon.co.uk/StarTech-feet-Cable-External-Drive/dp/B003HHK576/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376042974&sr=8-1&keywords=usb+y+cable). This will draw power from two separate ports which will hopefully be enough to power it.
    2. Get a separate power supply. This will only work if your Seagate has a suitable connector, and of course you'll need to get a suitable PSU, but it may be the most reliable solution.
    3. Get a _good_ mains-powered USB hub, and connect the HDD to it. With any luck, the hub will be able to supply enough power for your device.

    • Faizan A
      August 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      i dont know...sometimes after 4 to 5 months, this happens...2 tb uses external power adapter...wont that usb y cable have the same prob cuz my external already uses its own power source?

    • Oron Joffe
      August 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      Right, if you are using an external power supply, then something very unusual is happening. One possibility is that your drive is drawing a lot of power from the USB port, despite the ext. PSU,
      The only other possibility I see is that the drive is drawing only a little power, but your USB ports are overly sensitive.
      The best way to figure out which of those scenarios is the case is to use the "replacement technique". That is, try another device in your USB port (e.g. a flash drive), and also try your hard disc on another computer and see how it works. Those two tests should help you to find out where the problem lies (it is unlikely, but not impossible that BOTH are faulty!).
      The method I suggested earlier, using a powered usb hub, may allow you to use the drive regardless, but of course that's another box, and another power socket used up...

    • Faizan A
      August 10, 2013 at 8:57 am

      i have to ask, if that usb port is faulty why it starts working after some time...i am thinking can it be a software problem?

    • Oron Joffe
      August 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      One can never say "never" in IT, but I can't see what software fault would lead to this. USB port drivers (the software) can monitor the state of a USB port, and can shut it down under certain circumstances. These are standard drivers (i.e. used for most USB controllers and hubs, unless you have unusual hardware). If it were a bug ,we would all be seeing this problem. If it's just the copy on your PC which was corrupt, it would prevent ANY USB device from working (e.g. your kb & mouse, before connecting the HDD), and more than likely the driver would crash rather than displaying a stock message.

      In other words, it's a matter of likelihood. Best exclude hardware problems first, and if indeed the problem can be shown not to lie there, proceed to the software. However, if you are sceptical, there's another approach. Get a bootable Linux CD/DVD and boot from it. Once the machine is up and running, connect your external drive and see if you can see it in Linux. If you can, then it's a problem in Windows itself (probably the driver). If the problem is replicated in Linux, then it's definitely hardware.

    • Faizan A
      August 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      well the thing is my external is working fine now...so if i do that Linux check, linux will detect it and i will be none the wiser..

    • Oron Joffe
      August 10, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Well, if it works, it works! One less worry in the world...

  2. Bruce E
    August 9, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Does your external drive use its own power adapter? If not, see if you can use one with the drive. The most common cause of this error is the power draw of the drive motor exceeding the limits that can be provided by the USB bus itself. You are seeing all of the power being siphoned off by the external drive leaving either too little or no power to drive any other USB-attached devices.

    If an external power adapter is not an option for the drive, you can also try using a powered USB hub to provide the additional juice required.

    • Faizan A
      August 9, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      it uses external adapter...

  3. Mark L
    August 8, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    If '@Hovsep A' solution above does not help, it may be that the external hard drive is trying to pull too much power from the USB hub, and the computer is notifying you of the fact. Try looking carefully at the back of the external hard drive, and see if there is a place for an optional power supply to be connected. Some external drives have a provision for external power, but don't come with the power supply provided. If there is a jack for external power, get a power supply of the specified voltage and current and plug it in, and the problem should go away. If there is no provision for external power, I would look into a powered USB hub, if you are using an unpowered hub. If you are using a powered hub already, try looking for one with a higher Amp rating for the power supply. I've seen some hubs with 250 ma, 500ma, and even 1000 ma (1 amp) power supplies, so maybe yours is just underpowered for the drive you want to use. Good luck.

    • Faizan A
      August 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      The thing is it has external power supply...always used external power source..it just start after i switch on my pc...and then sometimes all usb ports stop working..but come backk to life in this order...Mouse, after reboot keyboard and after many reboots..my external starts working

  4. Hovsep A
    August 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    a) Click Start and type devmgmt.msc, and then press Enter.
    b) Expand the Universal Serial Bus Controllers section.
    c) Right click on each devices and choose uninstall (do not delete)
    d) Close the Device Manager and restart your computer.

    on device manager locate Seagate external drive is there any yellow sign, if yes right click on it and choose uninstall (do not delete) reboot after

    • MakeUseOf TechGuy
      August 9, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      The ports are shutting down because the drive is drawing too much current and triggering the protection cut off. How are drivers going to fix that?

    • Hovsep A
      August 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      checking the drivers do not hurt if they are malfunctioning then communications can be disrupted and behave not normally. If the person is using 2TB hard drives then i think appropriate powersuply should be in the pc. Or for some reason 2TB hard drive not supported by the hardware.

    • Faizan A
      August 9, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      i have done that countless times...yes the 3.0 usb was in yellow...but unstalled and rebooted several times...didnt work..been using my external for over an year now

    • Hovsep A
      August 9, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      perhaps to disable hibernation & sleep (power sheme problem) ????
      or you need usb express card because faulty usb board
      perhaps to reset cmos battery and to flash BIOS?
      or to repair windows

    • Faizan A
      August 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      plz explain a bit about power sheme problem cuz i really put my computer to sleep often...

    • Hovsep A
      August 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      advanced power settings you can turn off the "suspend USB' during sleep and hibernate

      Under power options
      -click "change plan settings" for the plan your system is using.
      -click "change advanced power settings"
      -expanded the usb settings by clicking the "+"
      --Disable "USB selective suspend setting"
      --click apply

      check your BIOS to find similar options

      see if this will help you.

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