Computer is an HP Pavilion G7-2033 laptop running Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit.
Symptoms: The USB ports (2 3.0 ports, 1 2.0 port) are fine with a mouse, a keyboard, speakers or a printer. They can't recognize any external media be it a flash drive or external drive UNLESS those drives are plugged in at boot time. I can hot swap mice, keyboard, speakers and printers but not external media.
I've uninstalled the USB Host Controller & Root Hub and re-installed them. That doesn't resolve the problem.
I restored an image from a time prior to when this started happening. That doesn't resolve the problem.
How do I troubleshoot this? How do I phrase a google search to find anything relevant to this? Everything I've found though google talks about problems with external drives. My drives operate fine on my desktop so I'm pretty sure there's no problem there. The USB cable stays with the external hard drive and since there's no problem with the desktop, I don't think the cable is the issue either. The external drive's drivers (Western Digital's WD-SES) are installed on the laptop using the same .msi package as was used to install them on the desktop.
For now, I'm just rebooting everytime I need to attach an external hard or flash drive but that's starting to get old.
Any guidance I can get to resolve this would be appreciated.
BTW, this is a refurbished machine that only had a 3 month warranty and I'm out of warranty. HP wants as much as I paid for the machine to provide any additional support. They make you agree to take a 1 year warranty to get any support in addition to paying for the support needed when you call in. I've had it about 9 months now and it worked just fine until a few weeks ago.