Backup To USB Drive Fails

Scheduled overnight backups to a external removable USB hard disk or flash drive have often been failing for me. Here's the solution to external USB drive backup failing.

Symptoms

Overnight backups fail. Backups always work fine when logged on to the server. The particular backup program in question was SyncBack. Unhelpfully, SyncBack gave various error messages, which made finding the solution hard. Having scheduled a batch file to access the USB drive at night and output to a file, it showed that the problem was not SyncBack, but that the drive letter was not accessible at night. Also, testing a USB flash drive instead of the USB hard disk didn't cure the problem.

Solution

The problem turned out to be that Windows server, being helpful as usual, was powering down the USB port rendering the drive inaccessible overnight. The solution is to turn off Power Management on the USB Root Hub.

How To Fix It

Follow these steps in Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP (this might be slightly different on certain other versions of Windows, but I'm sure you'll manage).

  • Open Control Panel
  • System
  • Hardware
  • Device Manager
  • In Device Manager, find Universal Serial Bus Controllers in the tree, and expand it
  • Right click on USB Root Hub and select Properties
  • Click the Power Management tab
  • Untick Allow the conputer to turn off this device to save power, and Press OK
  • Repeat that for any other USB Root Hub entries in Device Manager
Device Manager USB Root Hub Power Saving

Hopefully that will fix the backup problem for you. It worked for me!

Page Updated 18/11/09