Troubleshooting SCSI: Solving connectivity problems

When your computer's BIOS scan can't detect the SCSI adapter card, these five easy steps may help you remedy the problem.

Editor's note: This is one in a series of tips on troubleshooting SCSI. Other tips will cover troubleshooting SCSI terminators, IDs and cabling -- the three major trouble spots for SCSI.

The most fundamental problem with SCSI connectivity occurs when the computer's BIOS scan can't detect the SCSI

adapter card. The good news is that because the problem is so severe, it is usually very easy to diagnose and usually equally easy to fix.

If the computer can't detect the SCSI device, try the following steps:

  • The basic first step: Check the power LED. If possible, make sure the SCSI device is getting power. Often there is an LED power indicator on the device.

  • Make sure the card is properly seated. Power down the system and push the card firmly and evenly into its socket. You might have to completely remove the card and reseat it. If you do remove it, cleaning the card's contacts with contact cleaner may help.

  • Replace the firmware. Sometimes the card's firmware becomes corrupt or the card was shipped with incorrect firmware. In either case, the solution is to get the latest version of the firmware and install it.

    You should visit the vendor's Web site and download the latest firmware for your card. Make sure the firmware you get is for exactly your card. If you're not sure, phone the vendor and ask.

    Download the firmware to a floppy or CD and use the startup configuration utility to load the firmware on startup. Follow the instructions exactly in the vendor's manual and in your Microsoft documentation. Since the firmware for a SCSI host adapter is usually stored in flash memory, you should only have to do this once.

    Finally, document the new version of the firmware the card is using. You'll need that information for future troubleshooting.

  • Move the adapter to a new PCI slot. The PCI bus, and the even newer PCI-X bus, are sensitive to various kinds of interference and crosstalk. Often the problem can be fixed by moving the affected card to a different bus slot.

  • Try a different host adapter. If none of these steps works, you may have a defective card. Try swapping the card for a known good one, or contact the vendor about getting a replacement.

Fast Guide: Troubleshooting SCSI

  Introduction
  Troubleshooting SCSI: Solving connectivity problems
  Troubleshooting SCSI: OS doesn't see adapter
  Troubleshooting SCSI: ID conflict
  Troubleshooting SCSI: Termination issues


Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80 K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last 20 years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.
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This was first published in November 2005

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