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Start by unplugging suspected devices and see if you can pinpoint the culprit. Sometimes, it's as easy as replacing a cable.

I have searched high and low for an answer specific to my issue but nothing's been found. The found new hardware wizard has all of a sudden started to appear on startup and has done so for the past week. The wizard says it will help me install software for... (unknown) and then give the option to insert the disc that came with the hardware.

My system is Windows XP, Home version 2002, SP3 and is approximately four years old. Intel Pentium Dual Core, CPU. I have a Canon IP4500 printer and a Canon copy/scan D660U scanner connected and these were both properly installed with their respective CDs some three years ago. These units have been operating properly. I also have a Maxtor external hard drive. This has had some issues in that on a couple of occasions a small balloon has appeared from the taskbar near the clock advising that the USB mass storage device is not recognized. I have on a couple of occasions disconnected the hard drive and then reconnected it again. At the moment, it's OK and I have access to all of the files. Is this a separate issue to the hardware wizard? I just click Cancel to get rid of the wizard and it's just annoying.

In this excerpt from Answercast #45, I look at a system that is confused by its USB attachments.

Found New Hardware Wizard

My gut tells me that this is not a separate issue. My gut tells me that your external hard drive is either failing or at least the connection to it is confused.

The operating system is occasionally polling for new hardware (that it sees out on the USB Bus), and then seeing this external drive (in whatever confused state it might be in) as something new.

Disconnect the drive

So, what I would recommend you do to begin to diagnosing this (or narrowing down the possibilities) is to:

  • Unplug that external hard drive and see if the problem goes away.

If it does, then clearly we have a pretty good indicator that it is something related to that external hard drive.

Replace the cable

What I would try, if that's the case... the first thing I would do actually:

  • I would replace the cable.

That's cheap. It's quick. Sometimes, a cable that's going bad or a cable that isn't properly connected or a cable that just has problems – can result in these kinds of issues.

Further diagnosis

If removing the hard disk doesn't make the problem go away, then it gets a little bit weirder, and I really don't have a strong direction to send you off in.

Of course, you can try:

  • Disconnecting all of your USB devices;

  • And whatever else is disconnect-able;

  • To see if the problem goes away with one of them.

That's probably the next thing I'd have you do.

Misconfigured hardware

But ultimately, what it really means is that:

  • Somewhere on your system, there's a piece of hardware that is either incorrectly, or inconsistently, identifying itself to the system, and as a result, confusing the system into thinking that something new is present.

    You may ultimately need to take this to a technician and have them look at the specific components of the machine to see if there's anything obvious that can be rectified.

Article C5716 - August 20, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

August 21, 2012 12:06 PM

Sometimes Windows (even Win7-64 Ultimate) just gets confused with/by USB hardware and ports, and seems to lose the proper settings and needs to "clear its head," so to speak.

I have found that problems like that described by the OP often resolve if the port or hub to which the device is connected is uninstalled in device manager, followed by a reboot, which will rerecognize the port and everything attached to it.

If the problem persists, I would suspect hardware (which includes cables, so try swapping the cable out before giving up).

Peter B
August 21, 2012 2:53 PM

It's always worth looking in device manager. Sometimes you will see little markers (red or yellow) on the left of some devices. These are the ones that Windows is then having problems with. Then follow Leo's and Doc_benway's advice on how to tackle the issues with the devices.

Marty Wolfson
August 22, 2012 7:01 AM

I had an issue several years ago with a persistent Windows installer pop-up. Turned out to be the result of an incompletely uninstalled program. Revo solved my problem.

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