Last night I bought a 160-gig Toshiba external hard drive at Circuit City for backing up my current files and for storage of future downloads. When I plug it in, I get a message that says something to the effect of "this device has exceeded the power limits of its USB port." (Not the exact words but that's the gist of the message.) After a minute or so the E:\ drive appeared in My Computer and I was able to back up all my files (meaning that I can't return it now? I don't know). It seems to work fine, but I'm wondering if I should be worried about that message. Or buy a powered USB hub as I've seen several people mention when I googled my problem. Should I have the external HD plugged into the USB port before powering up my laptop?

Also, when I went to Device Manager in I think Control Panel it says I have two USB ports, but I can only see one on the back of my laptop. I have a Compaq Armada M700 laptop (yeah, dinosaur, I know), and I've downloaded the user manual and looked at the computer components on that as well, and I can't find that extra USB port. (Unless it's that card slot on the side of the laptop. Next to my CD/DVD-ROM drive. There's nothing in that slot.)

Its common to get that on laptops. Laptops supply much less power to USB devices than desktops, so if you use a drive which does not get power from the wall, you will get that error message.

Either buy a wall-power lead for the drive, a powered usb hub, or put up with the message.

I'll probably buy a powered USB hub (they don't seem to be very expensive according to Google) but in the meantime, is it going to do anything bad to my laptop (e.g. fry the mobo or anything)?

I had the error on a thinkpad and it never did any damage in my case, but i cant guarantee anything, maybe its best to err on the side of caution and not use the drive until its sorted.

It should not cause a problem to your laptop. If there is a problem, it will be that the external drive simply loses power. This is a window for dataloss, but otherwise things should be fine.

I have had similar issues with some drives, but plugging my laptop into the wall has resolved most.

I would pursue the powered USB hub route.

yeah, i have the same problem, but mine has the ability to use 2 USB ports..... so that is good.... otherwise i wouldn't be able to do it.....

But the thing i find is... it varies from laptop to laptop.... same model, same everything, and it still varies....

Anyway, overall, it is a common problem.


There are also cables that obtain power from two separate USB ports (if available), my external case (EAGLE EB-240-00065 2.5" USB2.0 to IDE mesh External Enclosure - Retail from Newegg) came with one. This would allow you to retain the portability of the drive with your laptop and give it the power that it wants (whether it truly needs it or not). After a brief search I was unable to obtain the cable by itself however the case is cheap (@ $7.99 US) and comes with one. I would buy this and maintain the portability of your laptop. Best of luck~Mav.

It seems to work if I plug the drive in before I turn my laptop on, although it seems to take a minute or two longer to start up. I always have my laptop plugged in (I don't have anywhere to take it), but I think I'll still buy a powered USB hub. So, I think I'll just mark this as solved.

Be a part of the DaniWeb community

We're a friendly, industry-focused community of developers, IT pros, digital marketers, and technology enthusiasts meeting, networking, learning, and sharing knowledge.