Adding previously loaded peripheral devices without rebooting

It's very time consuming when you have to start and restart your PC in order to add external devices. Paul Suiter explains how you can have your machine recognize new hardware and SCSI devices without rebooting.

The concept of plug and play has been around for many years. This capability was developed long before the introduction of SCSI devices, and it has continued to improve over the years. At the beginning of Windows 9x technology, the system had to be restarted so that it could detect new peripherals. Now, with USB support, you can add and remove peripherals without rebooting your computer. But what about the older parallel and serial connections, which still exist in abundance on many computers? If they are plug and play, then why do we have to restart the PC when we add them? Maybe we don’t.

It’s very time consuming when you have to start and restart the PC in order to add external devices. What we need from Windows 9x is for it to be able to detect the hardware peripherals that have been previously installed without our having to restart the PC. Therefore, we’ll force Windows to re-detect the hardware and resume its operation. Of course, this procedure applies only to external devices and not to such items as hard drives and expansion cards.

Adding new hardware
You may be thinking of the Add New Hardware wizard. This wizard is designed to add new hardware to the PC. It doesn’t work for devices that you’ve installed already and have just disconnected but not removed. Besides, the wizard usually requires you to restart Windows.

First, you’ll need to make sure that the device is connected properly to the PC and that it’s turned on. Then, you’ll need to access the Device Manager either by reaching Control Panel through the System icon or by right-clicking the My Computer icon and choosing Properties. View devices by connection rather than by default. Now, you’ll have a much shorter list. You’ll see how all of the various computer devices are connected, but you should notice that the most common method of connection is the Plug and Play BIOS. Expand this branch and the branches underneath, and you can verify when the device that you’re adding appears.

Return to the top of the list, highlight Computer, and click the Refresh button at the bottom. Now, just sit back and wait—you may have to wait for up to half a minute, depending on the system. Once Windows has finished, your new device should appear within the tree (probably under the PCI bus). If the device that you’ve added happens to be an external drive, it should appear under the My Computer icon, too. Be aware that there’s always the chance that Windows may have difficulty handling this operation and will lock up. There’s also the chance that the device you’re connecting won’t be recognized as having been previously installed, and you’ll be asked for drivers and have to reboot.

Adding SCSI devices
If this procedure works for devices that are connected to parallel and serial ports, what about the SCSI devices? You’re in luck. Just as you found that refreshing the computer leads to its recognizing new devices, you can do the same for external SCSI devices. This method is very helpful for users who have only one external SCSI connection but who use several external devices with that connection. (I stress “external” devices.) Connecting and disconnecting devices that are powered off of the computer’s power source can be very dangerous—for you and for the computer components and motherboard.

If you have SCSI adapter cards that use a PCI connection, you will find them under the PCI bus branch of the Plug and Play BIOS. Other system setups may place the adapter under a different group. Also, you may have multiple SCSI adapters. Expand both branches so that you can tell which adapter controls the device that you’ve connected.

To refresh most SCSI devices under Windows, you need to follow much of the same procedure as above. You still must view the tree by connection instead of by default. This time, however, highlight the adapter and click the Refresh button. Windows should take less time refreshing the SCSI devices than other peripheral devices. This procedure is also less likely to have any problems because you’re refreshing just the SCSI controller and not the whole computer.

With the inception of USB devices, plug and play is quickly becoming a common tool for the average user. While many of us are buying the newest and fastest PCs out there, others find that upgrading is more practical. Luckily, those users who retain the tried-and-true systems of old can still connect peripherals quickly by refreshing the Device Manager.

Paul Suiter received his first taste of the deadline rush as a photographer for the Montgomery Advertiser, where he earned four photography awards. After receiving degrees in economics and business management from Auburn University, Paul entered the college book business. After managing two bookstores for three years, Paul became a business analyst for EDS. Four years later, Paul continues with EDS, taking its equipment apart, while working with G3 switches and advanced imaging programs. But, he’s finally getting back to one of his favorite pastimes—writing. (Of course, he also enjoys spending time with his wife and son.)

The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

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