IBM server boot problem with USB hard drive



Question:

The setup:

- I’ve got an IBM xSeries 206 server running Windows 2003.

- We’re going to be running backups to external USB-connected hard drives.

- I also want to schedule this server to reboot once per week.

The problem:

When the server reboots, it always tries to boot to the USB-attached drive, and gives an ‘operating system not found’ message. The only way to allow the server to boot if the external drive is attached is to physcially turn off the drive.

Changing the BIOS boot order has no affect. The drives in the 206 are SCSI-attached.

IBM’s response:

They told me we’re pretty much out of luck. If you have a USB device attached, this supersedes all BIOS boot order settings. And because we’re not using IBM-approved hardware (these external drives are Maxtor), we can’t even claim a legitimate problem, even though IBM external USB drives will behave in exactly the same way. If we really want to pursue this, we’d need to purchase and test with IBM USB drives. I was able to duplicate the problem with an IBM flash drive, but apparently that didn’t count for some reason.

Answer:

The xSeries 206 server has a few USB options in BIOS:

1) Legacy USB Support

2) USB Device

3) USB 2.0 Device

DISABLE option #1. Then the server will boot. Something is a little wonked in the IBM firmware, I think: It’ll look for USB boot devices only if Legacy USB Support is on.

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6 Comments

  1. fidel:

    i have a pendrive which is new and caonnoy use because when inserted into my
    pc it always says insert a disk in the drive

  2. abkaiser:

    i have a pendrive which is new and caonnoy use because when inserted into my pc it always says insert a disk in the drive

    If you want your PC to boot to a flash drive, your PC needs to be able to support that operation. Older PCs mayhave trouble doing this. To configure your PC for booting to a flash drive, enter the BIOS and check for “Boot order”. There should be an option for “USB drive”. Make sure this is listed before the hard drive in the boot order.

    If your PC doesn’t support this option, then you may not be able to boot to a USB drive.

  3. Rob J:

    We’re also having the same problem with non-IBM hardware. Many generic Intel motherboards are behaving in the same manner. If Automatic Updates forces the server to reboot overnight the server will not continue past the USB device to boot from the internal array (integrated or PCIx card). We’ve turned off the USB legacy support, and set the boot order to not include the USB device, but it does’nt seem to matter. We’ve experienced this on several different models manufactured between 2003 and 2008 and all have the same behaviour.

  4. SS:

    I do not know for a fact but I suspect IBM (possibly other manufactures) purposely either do not support or block or complicate the use of USB hard drives and thumb drives because they would rather you purchase THEIR expensive hard drives and servers to expand your storage space rather than just grabbing a third party hard drive to add gigs if not terabytes to your possible storage space.
    I have looked thru many forums and IBM’s site but found no solution so I just gave up trying.
    We ended up just using an old computer and installed Server 2003 and all the hard drives we wanted and things are slower than a normal server but we mainly use it for backups and archives and works well for our use. We installed the Server 2003 software just because we wanted more than 9 people to connect to it but if you do not need that, XP Pro would work fine.

  5. Allen:

    The xSeries 206 server has a few USB options in BIOS:

    1) Legacy USB Support

    2) USB Device

    3) USB 2.0 Device

    DISABLE option #1. Then the server will boot. Something is a little wonked in the IBM firmware, I think: It’ll look for USB boot devices only if Legacy USB Support is on.

    This worked for me….Thanks for info

  6. Chris Curtis:

    We’ve been struggling with this issue for months now, and for some of our sites had to invest in NAS devices for backup (which was another saga, believe me).

    Disabled legacy support worked a treat on this X206 I’m in front of now. We’ll see how some others go.

    Regards,
    Chris