Microsoft, in their infinte wisdom, recently sent out a “security” update that has broken the use of many USB devices. It switches off the power of USB devices it considers to not being used. This may be fine for mice, keyboards and printers, but I use the Huawei broadband modem from O2 (also used by Vodafone an 3 Mobile here in Ireland). See one of many discussion threads about it here.
Update June 16th 2008: O2 have released a fix for this. Go to http://www.o2.ie/firmware and follow their instructions. I installed their update, and so far my connection has not dropped for 5 hours or so.
Update Aug 19th 2008: I have written a simple utility application that checks your broadband usage with O2 in Ireland, rather than taking 5 minutes to find it on their website. Read about it at http://shaneosullivan.wordpress.com/2008/08/10/o2-broadband-usage-checker .
The modem is powered down every few minutes, disconnecting you from the web, and forcing you re-enter the PIN after 10 or 20 seconds. Extremely annoying. O2 say that they and Microsoft are working on a patch, but it’s been 4 weeks or so now, and my broadband is still more or less unusable.
So, I’ve come up with a temporary fix that seems to work well. All it does is repeatedly list the contents of the the drive that the modem is mapped to (F: on my laptop) every 5 seconds. This tells Windoze that the device is in use. To use this, paste the code below into a text file whose name ends in .bat, e.g. PollModem.bat. This is an executable script file in Windows.
PING -n 5 127.0.0.1>nul
Alternatively, you could download the file from http://www.skynet.ie/~sos/misc/PollO2.bat
If your modem is listed as a different drive, change the drive letter from F to whatever drive it is on the second line of the script. You can find the letter by double clicking on My Computer and looking for the drive called “O2 Broadband” (this is for O2 obviously, the Vodafone and 3 Mobile modems may be called something different.)
Once you’ve saved the PollModem.bat file, double click on it. You’ll see a window pop up, listing the drive’s contents every 5 seconds. It’s been running for me now for an hour, and the modem hasn’t disconnected yet.
You’ll have to run this once each time you start Windows, but it’s far more convenient that having your broadband disconnect every 3 minutes! Hopefully 02, Huawei and MS will fix this permanently soon, but until then, this should keep you going.
Update: After using this solution for a few weeks, I’ve found that it doesn’t reliably fix the problem. However, it does seem to keep the modem alive for longer, but it will still cut out eventually. Huawei, O2, Vodafone and Microsoft (especially bloody Microsoft) had better get their act together!