geek tips

usb 3 external hd + wireless mouse gives nasty frustrating interference

Over the rainbow

This been bugging me for a few days now so I’m glad I found a fix and thought I’d publish that to the world-wide web.
Recently my old external HD started making these really annoying clicking sounds after I accidentally dropped it on its head. Oops. A check-disk showed the clicking noises where indeed indicating a problem (check-disk never manages to finish its check, it gets stuck somewhere in the middle…) so it was time to shop for a new and shiny drive, of course USB 3 compatible because it’s like the latest and greatest in Universal Bus Technologies these days.

After I connected the new and shiny Seagate drive to the lappy however, my wireless mouse (I don’t like wires) started acting jumpy. My suspicion that indeed the drive was the culprit only increases as the behaviour stopped when I disconnected the drive.

OK, guilty party found, but now what? Apparently the USB 3 cable and/or drive is giving off enough interference to mess with the wireless radio signal for the mouse and keyboard (I don’t like wires). I read a few online posts on similar problems but nothing that really gave a clear solution except “try using a different USB port” for the wireless connector.

Great but I can’t, since on the Dell laptop all the USB ports are pretty close to one another (tip for Dell perhaps?). Then from a Logitech thread came the tip to perhaps try using a USB extension cable. Well bloody Hell I still have one of those things around I never use! Turns out that little cable of only a good 20 cm long is enough to keep the wireless receiver far enough away from the jamming source to function properly again.

Weird thing is that when I move it close to the USB 3 port used for the HD again, it doesn’t seem to suffer from interference anymore. I have no idea why that is.

Update: there’s a troubleshooting article on the Logitec site about this issue now.

Photo by Rosa Menkman, cc-licensed.

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