First, check for an update to your BIOS.
Go to your computer manufacturer’s site and look at the support section. Find your computer (for mine is an HP h8 1211 and I can find the update files on the HP site). An update to the BIOS may be available. Back up your data, if you haven’t already. The BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is pretty deep in the important software which runs your computer so it is a good plan to be cautious when updating it. While it updates and installs do not open anything else. Let it run, likely just 3 minutes and then it will want to restart. You won’t need to do much during this process, just wait for it to finish. My BIOS update went smoothly and I am back up and typing again right now.
If the BIOS update does not let you use your USB device then the next step is to go into the running of your computer and check the BIOS settings.
This is not a scary thing. Just take your time and only save the section you are fixing. Anything other than what I post below you should just get out of without saving. It may sound risky with the warnings but it is actually a simple process. The hard part is catching your computer at the right point while it boots up.
If you can, find the directions for this process on the site for your computer. They should have a write up geared to your PC specifically.
To check your BIOS settings:
- Reboot your computer. This means shutting down and starting back up or just doing a restart.
- Before Windows starts up click F10 (those keys in the top row, above the numbers). Some computers use F8,F11 or even the Enter key instead. So it does help to find out which your PC will work with.
- Next up you will see a plain text page or one with simple graphics and not many colours. Look for System Configuration. Then Boot Order Select.
You should see the items ordered as follows:
- DVD/ CD Drive
- USB Devices
- Save those settings, change it to those settings if needed and then save. Now just back out of there with the escape key and reboot your computer.
- If you are not feeling good about doing this ask for help rather than take it on yourself. I’m not a computer expert but I have been mucking around in the internal workings a few times. I do think I used to be braver than I am now though.
I just got a new external hard drive with the plan of using it as storage for all my urban exploration photos and assorted other stuff. I’ve been keeping the photos on CDs and DVDs. It’s great to have them burned as a back up copy and no hard drive can carry unlimited digital photographs. However, my plan changed when I had one of my back up CD’s break in half. I’m hoping I can still recover the photos and other stuff from it, but… I’ve yet to actually try.
The external hard drive seems a much smarter plan. It’s not likely to break and I’m usually able to fix software issues. I did have some trouble at the start because my computer doesn’t like me to have more than the monitor, keyboard and mouse plugged into the USB ports. Even then, each has to stick to it’s own section: back, front and top. Two in the same section and… the computer will power up but just show a blank screen.
I know this is due to the boot order. At least, I’m hoping that will be the fixer-upper. I could have looked into it before when I set up a scanner. But, I don’t use the scanner so often. It was simple enough to leave it unplugged. Of course, then I began using it even less often because it wasn’t all set up and ready to go.
Anyway, my only concern about the external hard drive is not being able to power it off. It is always on as long as the PC is on. I’m not likely to back up every day. I don’t save that much on my hard drive each day. So, the external hard drive doesn’t need to be running constantly. The idea is for it to not be connected to the main system in case of a crash or etc. So, keeping it connected works against that part of the plan. Still, it will free up space on my PC hard drive, even though it’s got loads of it unused. I like keeping it light rather than letting it get bogged down.
This is a basic safety feature on laptops and PCs. The idea is if Windows is corrupted or the hard drive fails the computer can still be booted from a recovery CD/DVD or USB drive. At switch on PCs run through a short self-diagnostic program called the BIOS (Basic Input Output System). One of its functions is to tell the computer where to look for boot files. Usually the CD/DVD or USB drive is first, and if no files are found it boots normally from the hard drive and loads Windows. The solution is to change the Boot Order so the hard drive is the first boot device.