What is an I/O Device Error and How To Fix It?

What is an IO Device Error?

An I/O Device Error happens when Windows XP or Vista, is not able to perform an Input/Output action (such as reading or copying data) when it is trying to access a drive or disk.

An I/O error can occur with different types of hardware devices or media, such as:

  • External hard drives
  • SD cards
  • USB flash drives or pen drives
  • CD-Rom or DVD drives
  • CD or DVD discs

Common IO Error Messages

The most common IO error messages and codes are:

  • “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error.”
  • “Only part of a readprocessmemory or writeprocessmemory request was completed.”
  • I/O Error codes: error 6, error 21, error 103, error 105, error 131

Causes of an IO Device Error

I/O error issues might occur for any of the following reasons:

  • Windows is trying to use a transfer mode that the hardware device cannot use.
  • The hardware device that you are trying to access is damaged or defective.
  • The hardware drivers are damaged or incompatible.
  • There is a connection problem, such as a bad cable.
  • The CD or DVD disk that you are trying to access is dirty or damaged.

First Steps to Resolve I/O Device Error Problems

Before you continu you should first perform the following steps:

  1. Restart your computer, and then try to access the drive or disk again.
  2. Use a cleaner disc to clean the disk.
  3. If you have another computer available, try to access the data on the drive or disk with the other PC to confirm that the drive or disk is not damaged.
  4. If you do not have another computer available, try a different disk to make sure that the problem is with the computer and not with the original disk.

If the problem is fixed and you no longer get the error message, you are finished. If the problem remains, continue to the next paragraph.

How to Fix I/O Device errors?

There are several solutions that you can use to troubleshoot and try to fix an I/O errors. Try these solutions in the following order:

Solution 1: Make certain that all cables are connected correctly

If the drive is an external drive, make sure that the cable that connects the computer to the drive is functioning correctly. If the cable fails, the drive will not work correctly. If you have another cable, try to use it, and also try to attach it to another (USB) port.

Note Changing cables for an internal drive for a desktop computer is recommended only for advanced computer users, because there are many internal items that can be easily damaged. You should not try to change cables inside a laptop or portable computer.

If above solutions resolved the issue, you are finished. If this did not resolve the IO issue, continue to solution 2.

Solution 2: Start the computer in a clean boot state

Try to perform a clean boot of your computer to determine whether a program or driver is having a conflict with the drive. Click the following links for more information about how to configure Windows XP or Windows Vista to start in clean boot state.

If a clean boot fixes the problem, there may an incompatible program or driver on your PC. For more information, click the following links for more information about how to perform advanced clean-boot troubleshooting in Windows XP or Windows Vista.

If this solution fixed the problem, you are finished. If this solution did not resolve the I/O problem, go to solution 3.

Solution 3: Change the transfer mode for the drive in IDE Channel Properties

If the transfer mode for the drive was changed or is incorrect, Windows cannot transfer data from the drive to the computer. You can fix this problem by changing to the correct transfer mode. To change the transfer mode, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Right click My Computer
  3. Select Manage from the resulting menu
  4. In the Computer Management window, select Device Manager
  5. Expand IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. A subset will open, listing the different IDE ATA/ATAPI channels for the computer.
  6. Right-click the channel where the appropriate drive is connected, and then click Properties. Typically, this channel is Secondary IDE Channel.
  7. On the Advanced Settings tab, select PIO Only in the Transfer Mode box for the device that represents the appropriate drive. Typically, this is Device 0. Then, click OK and exit all windows.
  8. Test the drive.

Warning: Do not change the Primary IDE Channel, Device 0, because this is typically the system disk. Changing this transfer mode setting may cause the computer to operate incorrectly or not at all.

If the problem is not resolved after you change the transfer mode for the secondary IDE channel device 0, the drive may not be located there. Use the same procedure to change the transfer mode back to DMA if available. Then, repeat steps 1-6 to change the transfer mode for IDE devices in the following order until the issue is resolved:

  1. Primary IDE channel, device 1
  2. Secondary IDE channel, device 1

After you change your settings, make sure you restart your system so that the computer recognizes the changes you have made. After you reboot, check the settings to make sure they are in effect. If they are, your device should now work properly.

If this solution fixed the I/O error, you are finished. If this did not fix the problem, try solution 4.

Solution 4: Check the status of the device in Device Manager

You can check the status of the drive in Device Manager to ensure that the device driver is working properly. If there is a hardware problem or a software conflict preventing the device from working properly, usually Device Manager will identify the problem. Click the following links for more information about how to manage devices in Windows XP or Windows Vista.

If this solution fixed the problem, you are finished. If this did not fix the problem, go to solution 5.

Solution 5: Contact the hardware manufacturer

Visit the website or get in touch with the manufacturer of the hardware device to find out whether there is a firmware or a driver update available for download.

Other Solutions to Windows Errors and Slow PC Performance

The best thing you can do, to stop your computer from getting more error messages or slow down your PC performance, is to repair and clean your Windows Registry.

Tune Your PC recommends to run a Free Registry Scan from the multi-award winning registry repair tool, RegCure. RegCure cleans, repairs and optimizes the Windows Registry in under 2 minutes. And because it is an user-friendly tool, you don’t have to be a PC geek, like us.

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15 Responses to “What is an I/O Device Error and How To Fix It?”

  1. Ramon Berrios Says:

    Thank you very much for the information, it really help me alot. thankyou.

  2. Kevin Locky Says:

    It helps from solving the problem, the information and also the fix is so clear that even a noob can do!

  3. mohd hussain Says:


  4. christian Says:

    thank you … it works!

  5. Renae Says:

    Hi, this happened to me recently when I bought a new memory card for me Canon DSLR. What I found it to be in the end was that because the new card was a lot bigger (16GB) it takes a bit to load after I connect it to my PC before I can access it. So the solution for me was to plug the memory card in and wait 5min before trying to access it.

  6. bolaji Says:

    Very useful tips! thanks.

  7. Andrew Says:

    I’m trying to change the transfer mode properties as none of the other solutions have worked for me, but those options are not appearing. Running Windows 7 Home Premium.

    I’ve taken the HDD from my old HP G62-144DX laptop (which no longer powers on) and used an Inland hard drive enclosure kit to convert it to an external USB plug-and-play drive.
    Immediately upon plugging it the corner popup said that device drivers installed successfully, and it appears in Device Manager under Disk Drives as “USB device”. However it does not seem to be appearing under the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers tab. It also does not appear under “My Computer” and so I cannot access the data that I am attempting to recover from it. On the “Disk Management” tab it appears as “Disk 1” (Disk 0 being my internal HDD) and there is an icon with a red arrow, underneath which it reads “Unknown” and “Not Initialized”. Right clicking offers me to option to initialize it, and has 2 partition styles available, but trying either one will cause the “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error” message to appear. Any advice is appreciated, thanks.

  8. Andrew J Says:

    Recently had this error, wiped windows, installed windows to a new drive and was still having problems. Fixed by changing the SATA port on the motherboard the original Drive was connected to. Could have saved myself lots of time

  9. Bhaskar Says:

    Hi sir I have same problem for my 1TB HHD device when i try to connect to pc showing popup I/O error, plz hepl solve problem

  10. jon Says:

    I have the same issue I/o error on an internal storage hdd. and I looked in bios. I found something very strange. my mobo has 6 sata ports 1-6. normally my win7 is the only device I set to boot. my storage hdd is reading sata 0. there is normally no sata 0 listed in my bios. only 1-6.
    my storage hdd now keeps jumping infront of my boot win7 hdd, which is at sata 1 in bios. so my storage hdd is listed in bios as sata 0. in device manager it is normal. without the storage device connected, win7 boots normally.
    with the storage device connected windows boots in 20 minutes. it lags. this device was working fine for 6 months. both hdd’s are jumper free. will try changing cables and cable locations.

  11. mực 1 nắng, Says:

    Very good article. I definitely love this site.
    Continue the good work!

  12. Soa Says:

    Sounds convincing; I’ll try.

  13. vimal Says:

    There is no PIO Only in the Transfer Mode box, how can i fix this problem… I am using windows 7

  14. Ashok Singh Says:

    I have moserbaer 8gb not able to open in delete or copy anything from any computer and vise versa.

  15. Nick Says:

    I got the same problem, there’s no PIO Only in the Transfer Mode box. I did find out that the hard drive did appear when I started Windows Vista in Safe Mode. But I couldn’t access it the files, but Disk Management showed that the hard drive was healthy.

    My problem started when I clicked on “Safely remove..” and it did. When I reconnected the hard drive, I couldn’t access my files.