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 Post subject: BIOS BBS & stop Win auto-duplicating flash as another dr
 Post Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:21 pm 
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My flash drive occasionally turns up, not as E:, but as F: with a new D: having the same contents as the flash. This is on my Win98SE tower. Both show identical folders. I did not drill down. Properties for spurious-D: and F: show the same used and free space and FAT formats. But spurious-D: is propertied as a Local Drive while F: is listed as a Removable Drive.

Uptimer4 said my hard drive used and free space add up to just over 4GB, but C: is really only about 2GiB and the flash (duplicated as spurious D:) only about 1GiB, so Uptimer, which is usually about right on that point, is far exceeding the total of both Properties dialogs. Uptimer is set to show C: and D: and apparently not F:, so I don't know how it's getting 4GB instead of 3 or 2GB. It once claimed about 8GB.

Shutting down or just the shutdown phase during warm-reboot freezes if the flash is still plugged in (except it once didn't freeze when direct cable networking was in place during a reboot).

For the second spurious-drive episode, at bootup the screen said my boot order had changed. I hadn't changed it. The message as later copied is "*Warning:*The boot devices have been changed."/"BBS boot priority will be affected.Please enter setup to check" (sic re spaces & punctuation). That message is frequent but not always there, and usually when I've investigated it in the past no change was in BIOS. I've taken to ignoring it and pressing F1, and did this time. After my flash turned up as F: with the spurious D:, I warm-rebooted, and the computer froze with the shutdown splash, so I reset at hardware. Last time, I think that solved the problem; this time, it didn't, a spurious D: turning up again.

The flash is non-U3 and has never had an app or OS installed on it and there's no CMOS option to boot from flash in any of the 3 machines (any option to boot from unspecified media, if any, comes after HDD in boot order, pre-HDD boot media being limited to FDD and CD/DVD, none of which have ever been on USB).

Perhaps the BBS warning reappears if it detects the flash and didn't before or doesn't detect it and did before, but I wonder if it's detecting specifically flash or something more generic.

The C: drive used to be in other CPUs without this problem, and I used the same flash almost daily and often plugged in during bootup, so must have plugged in often pre-OS, and often unplugged it after power was off. So CPU hardware is likely relevant. I did not reinstall Win but moved its HDD from a retired tower to a Dell desktop and then to the tower I just got, exposing it to a different system board and processor each time. The latest tower has an Abit VI7 system board with Phoenix AwardBIOS v6.00PG, Pentium 4 2.80GHz, and more RAM than the first one had (1GiB vs. 256MiB); POST passes and generally has lately since reseating.

Networking is mostly absent; it was to the first tower, always direct cable, and sporadic at that; some networking attempts to the present tower failed to recognize any machine but itself, which I remedied. All drives show the hand icon representing share status (my norm). The computer is not on the Internet even through the network and I'm the only user. No printer has ever been local to this Win install.

I recall only three recent changes to the Win install:
-- I installed system board software after the above episoodes. The problems remain.
-- The only app I recently installed is one I uninstalled and which was for playing a Universal Studios/MGM 2001 movie DVD as a test (it didn't play, probably because Internet is probably required and I'm not on it at home, and I may not have the codec it needs). Given the studio's size, the app is unlikely to be fly-by-night, and I didn't have that app before the previous episode, so it's an unlikely suspect.
-- I changed single-user mode to multi-user (me being the only user anyway). I traditionally had single-user mode but tried multi-user as it had begun insisting on logging me in with a dialog that would allow anyone to create a new login, I explored Win, and I think that was the only change I made to make the login dialog revert to the standard type (so you have to be authorized to log in).

I did several reboots trying to diagnose and repair, and wrote up step details. I don't have a trashable flash I've used and that still works, so I don't want to explore whether files are cross-linked when D: is spuriously duplicating a new F:; and, for the same reason, I've hesitated to run ScanDisk even diagnostically.

Solutions, tentative (applying all):
-- Insert the flash only during the OS boot, not pre-OS. Pre-OS with the present hardware seems to induce a spurious drive, perhaps risking damage to my flash thumb. At least I think it risks it.
-- Yank the flash before rebooting or shutting down, or the shutdown splash will freeze. This isn't a big problem. I'd let the splash stay frozen for a few minutes at least, so the next Win bootup won't have the blue screen nagging away.
-- Ignore the BBS warning and press F1 to bypass it.

The spurious-drive issue looks like a calamity waiting to unfold; or is it just a cosmetic issue?

Is the BBS issue major?

Thanks.

--
Nick


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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 4:30 pm 
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When was the last time the system was reloaded from scratch? With Win98SE you should probably reload at least once a year.

There is no need for an internet connection to play DVDs, merely install an MPEG-2 codec and use Media Player, or install a DVD player application, which will include the codec by default.

Once you have an MPEG-2 codec installed, you can play DVDs using Windows Media Player (WMP):

Supported software MPEG-2 DVD decoders in Windows Media Player
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306331

You can purchase stand-alone MPEG-2 codecs (coder/decoders) for about $15 that will work with Windows Media Player:

Plug-ins for Windows Media Player
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/window ... ugins.aspx

You can also get several different MPEG-2 codecs for free as a part of free
"codec packs". Some of my favorite packs are:

MSFN Codec Pack
http://www.nandlstadt.com/codecpack.htm

K-Lite Mega Codec Pack
http://codecguide.com

K-Lite MPEG2 codec pack http://www.codecguide.com/download_other.htm#klmpeg

Vista Codec Package
http://www.msfn.org/board/index.php?showtopic=66826

The boot drive changing and drive shadowing are probably related, and could be due to malware or corruption in the registry, both good reasons to reload from scratch. I certainly wouldn't trust any data stored on the drives until this were corrected.

Let me know if the problems disappear after reloading, Scott.


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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 1:26 pm 
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The registry on the hard drive is exonerated: I booted a read-only floppy Win98SE made long ago on another machine. It's also shadowing the flash, the main difference being how it treats the flash itself. The flash thumb was in before pre-OS bootup. I booted with CD support but with the CD drive empty (that's normal when the HDD boots). From CLI, I got: dir c: normal (hard drive); dir d: normal (flash contents) (free space about right); dir e: normal (RAM drive of Win diagnostic tools); dir f: "CDR101: Not ready reading drive F" (I aborted); dir g: invalid drive. That suggests there's difficulty reading the flash at F: and can't give me a directory listing directly but that it's shadowing it into D: and revealing D:'s directory listing. That's a spurious D: again, but using a different registry.

The shadowing happens if the flash goes in during or before the POST, but there's no shadowing if I insert the flash just after the BIOS judges whether the boot order has changed and wants my pre-OS password, or if I insert the flash after that time. The time between the offer to show me the POST in progress and when the BIOS boot-order judgment is announced or omitted is too short for anything but luck to allow inserting the flash in between.

By the way, whether I use a USB port on the system board or one on the case front doesn't matter, if it's inserted before bootup and it boots into Win. Either way it shadows.

Linux from a live DVD showed no shadow drive, although I'm not sure what a shadow drive would look like in Linux's unified filesystem. Knoppix 4.0 with 640x480 and 4-bit color specified (default bootup made for bad GUI on my monitor) (no other nondefault params for boot) showed proper drives and no inexplicable folders regardless of whether the flash was in before pre-OS boot or inserted only after the desktop was available. mount -a followed by mount revealed no spurious drives. /etc/fstab listed hda1 and uba1, not hda2, hdb, uba2, or ubb; ditto desktop icons (although I don't know why the flash thumb icon was device-named "Hard Disk Partition [uba1]" (brackets in original), unless that's a Knoppix convention (that's not how Fedora Core 4 Linux names it)). I've posted on a Knoppix forum a question about how to see a shadow, but I haven't seen an answer yet.

Malware is unlikely on my Win98SE tower, which is never directly exposed to the Internet. Possible, but, given what's installed where, unlikely. I'll do more checking on that for general reasons, but the floppy bootup with the same result as a hard drive bootup means hard drive malware wasn't involved.

My last Win98SE tower clean installation is probably from mid 2006 (based on folder/file dates in C:\Windows), and I don't frequently change applications, edit the registry, or crash.

I'm trying to assess whether shutdown splash freeze is suppressed by the crossover direct cabling to the other tower even though I've closed files/folders that were open across the connection. The freeze is intermittent and I'm cabling most of the time now.

I suspect now that the boot order allegedly changing and the shadowing are only indirectly related, if at all. I think the boot order allegedly changes only if the flash is in too early but wasn't in too early on the previous boot, or isn't present during a boot but was in the previous boot. On the other hand, the shadowing occurs when the flash is in too early, without regard to its placement during the prior boot.

What happens during bootup tells me that the hardware is telling something to the OS, and, if the OS is Win, Win has a problem with what it's hearing and gets all corb3onxWulifila7ted. The issue is specific to Win's relationship to the hardware. Am I wrong?

Am I safe as long as I insert the flash late enough that no spurious drive is born during that login session?

Should I try something else to prevent shadowing?

Separate matter: Codecs:

I'm stunned by the collection of links, and thank you for all the research. I was only testing the DVD capability as a default benchmark. I despise Hollywood's movies and haven't seen one in over 20 years except snatches on TVs on public display. The 2 DVDs I got from the library, both typical garbage Hollywood productions that probably were hits when they came out, had files with 3 extensions, and double-clicking none of them led to any play. The info about why the movie failed in Win came from the included software and its minimum requirements, which included a browser and Internet. (I think Linux doesn't play them either.)

I'm not surprised that there are workarounds. Meanwhile, Win let me look in a Linux data DVD just fine.

I've posted a new cross-referential topic so the title will catch people looking for the codec information you researched, and give the info a second life.

Thank you muchly.

--
Nick


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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 1:51 pm 
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At this point I'm fairly certain that this is a BIOS issue. I believe it is because the motherboard is detecting bootable USB (or other) devices at startup. Removing all USB devices before turning the system on (every time) is one way to solve this, but obviously not ideal. You might be able to solve it by changing your Setup. Enter the BIOS Setup and disable USB boot capability. Also change your boot sequence to leave out anything but your internal ATA or SATA devices. Also, make sure you are running the latest BIOS for your motherboard. Let me know if that solves the problem. Scott.


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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 2:55 pm 
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Nick,

You haven't seen a movie in over 20 years? Maybe it's time to crawl out of the cave and get some sun. 8)


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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 3:59 pm 
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The last 5 times you saw the sun in movie theaters, had any director done a good job of conveying the sun's sincerity from the celluloid? I recommend the hydrogen-burning variety.

I prefer books, nonficton. Too bad too many of them have to be about computers. But when my computers do unauthorized things my writing gets stymied, so I read them, too.

Best wishes.

--
Nick


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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:58 pm 
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Discovered this in BIOS when I warm-rebooted without withdrawing the flash drive: Advanced BIOS Features > Hard Disk Boot Priority:

1. IDE1 M. : WDC AC22000L
2. Bootable SCSI/IDE/RAID Cards
2. USB-HDD0 : PNY USB 2.0 FD

Sic: Two items are each numbered "2." And sic: PNY is the flash brand; why it should be identified as HDD is beyond me, unless the BIOS doesn't know what a flash thumb drive is, only that it's in a USB port. BIOS is dated 2003, which seems late to misunderstand flash drives.

That's probably the strongest clue. This is from the preceding screen: Advanced BIOS Features:

Hard Disk Boot Priority [Press Enter]
- Bootable SCSI/IDE/RAID [Onboard RAID]
- HDD Change Message [Enabled]
First Boot Device [Floppy]
Second Boot Device [CDROM]
Third Boot Device [Hard Disk]
Boot Other Device [Enabled]

Brackets in original. "Press Enter" gets what I quoted above that. The alternative to "Onboard RAID" is "PCI Slot Device", which I'm not using for RAID. The alternative to Enabled for HDD Change Message is Disabled which is "to ignore hard disk change message." The choices for each numbered Boot Device include Floppy, USB-FDD, CDROM, and USB-CDROM; the non-USB choices were already selected. I don't know how Boot Other Device is implemented; the only choices are Enabled and Disabled, neither one explained, and I assume it's not just a fourth boot device.

I yanked the flash drive and exited BIOS without saving, causing reboot. When it entered Win's splash, I warm-rebooted. Neither reboot announced a change in boot order. This time, Advanced BIOS Features > Hard Disk Boot Priority had only the first 2 items, and not the PNY line.

I exited without saving. At Win splash, I inserted the flash, warm-rebooted keeping the flash in, entered Setup, and saw the three-line 1-2-2 Hard Disk Boot Priority list described above.

That suggests confirmation that the problem is with BIOS or related hardware.

Solution discussion:

Disabling Boot Other Device in Advanced BIOS Features made no difference. I still got the shadow.

There appears to be no USB boot capability in my present settings, since I've opted for Floppy rather than USB-FDD and for CDROM rather than USB-CDROM.

Among non-USB media, I don't want to leave FDD or CD/DVD out of the boot sequence. I like them preceding HDD as a safety measure; I usually leave those drives empty.

I don't plan to flash/update any BIOS on any board, even though I routinely download the updates, because of the warnings about destroying the board if power is interrupted. I suppose I could buy a UPS and I don't think I've had a power problem at home (I often leave CPUs running while I sleep with no evidence that they ever reboot or darken for loss of power), but the idea of losing a system board doesn't sit well. Sound advice you offered, but I'll pass it up.

I'll live with inserting the USB device/s only after the pre-OS password request. Maybe if it were a USB keyboard or mouse that would be impracticable, but for a thumb it's acceptable, since late insertion prevents creation of a shadow, thus protecting data. If I'm interpreting correctly, I'll leave it at that; if I'm not, please let me know. I'm the machine's only user, but I may tape a note to the case to insert late.

Thank you very much.

--
Nick


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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 7:02 pm 
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-- IRQs considered; and
-- Uptimer4 symptom whenever flash pulled or reinserted:

-----

IRQs were questioned when someone wondered if a race condition was causing resource conflicts.

BIOS > PnP/PCI Configurations > Allocate IRQ to USB is enabled; should I disable?

W98SE > System Information > Hardware Resources > Conflicts/Sharing (apparently no other resources are potentially conflicting) (no forced hardware on computer) (these are all the same whether flash was in or hasn't been in since before last reboot):
-- IRQ 5: Vinyl AC'97 Codec Combo Driver (WDM); VIA PCI to USB Enhanced Host Controller; PCI NIC; & ACPI IRQ Holder for PCI IRQ Steering
-- IRQ 10: VIA Rhine II Fast Ethernet Adapter (probably the NIC built into system board, which I don't use); VIA Tech 3038 PCI to USB Universal Host Controller (twice); VIA SATA RAID Controller; & ACPI IRQ holder again
-- IRQ 11: same PCI-USB controllers & ACPI IRQ holder as for IRQ 10
-- IRQ 14: primary IDE controller dual-fifo & VIA Bus Master PCI IDE Controller
-- IRQ 15: secondary IDE controller dual-fifo & VIA Bus Master PCI IDE Controller

I'm ambiguous about having codecs if they're for audio; I usually play the radio, not audio CDs. If codecs are only for movies, I'll dump them happily. I think some VIA stuff came with the system board.

BIOS allows me to manually assign the above IRQs but only to PCI Device or Reserved (no other choices). The non-manual alternative is Auto(ECSD), which is where I usually have it. At PnP/PCI Configurations is "PIRQ_5 Use IRQ No." set to Auto; the alternatives are 3, 5, 10, and 11. I think I'd just as soon leave it at Auto unless you suggest otherwise.

Should I move anything away or will I have other problems later if I do that?

-----

Just another fact noticed, suggesting an incipient shadow ready to make a full-blown shadow should I ever let it:

Once I have the flash in and there's no drive shadow and the flash is shared, pulling it out or pushing it in causes Uptimer4 (a utility displaying on screen) to increment hard drive free and total space by consistent amounts: when I counted them after I noticed the total was rather high, free space incremented by .266-.269 GB and total space incremented by 1.85-1.86 GB. (Reference: Win Properties for the hard drive showed free space of 274MiB ("MB" meaning MiB) and capacity of 1.85GiB ("GB" meaning GiB).) I probably could keep pulling and pushing the thumb and watching incrementation ad infinitum, I suppose, unless Uptimer or Win has a limit on disk size reports. The size of each increment varied very little between a pull and a push or between successive pull-push rounds. (The unit of measurement in Uptimer4 might be GiB but it displays as GB.) Yet, after this, My Computer even when refreshed still showed no shadow drive.

(Win Properties should show 275MiB because its byte count divided rounds to 275, not 274 and 1.86GiB because its byte count divided rounds to 1.86, not 1.85, but these differences are small enough to not matter.)

As far as Uptimer goes, I'll live as it is.

-----

I see I sometimes forget to have the flash out when starting up if I'm warm-rebooting with the flash in. I have to remember better.

--
Nick


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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 7:44 pm 
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I recommend you set all BIOS Setup options to defaults and re-test. Changing IRQs will not affect your problem as they are not related. You may be able to solve the problem by removing the flash drive from the boot sequence, but the problem may return once it is re-inserted. Make sure you are using the latest BIOS for your motherboard, this may be a problem that is fixed in a newer version. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: BIOS BBS & stop Win auto-duplicating flash as another dr
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:58 am 
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Followup, many months later: I've done okay by not plugging the flash stick in until the operating system is running. If I plug it in pre-OS, pulling it out and ctrl-alt-del rebooting is enough to prevent drive shadowing.

That's not good if I have to train another user, but it's acceptable for this sole user when no one else even has access to the machine. Otherwise, I'd use the safer procedures above, restoring BIOS to defaults and retesting or flashing BIOS if I was braver. Thanks.

--
Nick


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