Suddenly USB Doesn't Sync / Sudden USB Death Syndrome (or SUDS for short) is a problem that often happens with Palms, notably with models m500, m505 and m515. Palm denied its existence at first, but there are a great number of users out there on the Internet who came across the same problem: all of a sudden their Palm will stop synching using the USB cradle, while functioning normally on all other sides.

What happens with SUDS?
Your Palm will stop synching using its USB cradle. No premonitions; it happens all of a sudden. It will work as usual from all points of view, will reload its battery when on the cradle, but will not "sense" the HotSync app on the other side of the USB cable and behave as disconnected.

How does SUDS happen?
The exact causes of SUDS are unknown; some say it's because of an elecrostatic charge accumulating in the USB chip, others say the USB communication parameters will go out of sync and not be restored. As far as I know, there is no software way to reset your Palm out of a SUDS, so I tend to believe more in the reversable hardware fault theory. I've heard that Palm is replacing as defective certain USB cradles and that this might be related to SUDS, but this is more chatterbox gossip that proof of evidence. Some say SUDS is much more likely with USB 2.0 than with USB 1.1, but there's no evidence for this too.

Is SUDS reversable?
SUDS seems to be reversable, at least in most cases. What you need is a complete battery rundown, the kind that your Palm usually will actively try to prevent, as it is associated with a complete data loss and a cold boot of your Palm device. This does not work in all cases, anyway.

How do I rundown the battery completely?
It's very easy, but should not be done lightheartedly. Some people after doing this have had battery problems afterwards. This procedure will completely erase all data saved on your Palm. No way to get it back. You'd better backup it somehow, maybe using a serial cradle or the IrDA port.
If you want to try it, here's how:

  • As a start, we erase all data by holding the power button while pressing the reset on the back of the device. Keep the power button pressed for a few more seconds while the unit restarts and answer "Yes" when you will be asked "Erase all data?"
  • We then drain all the power by going into MemoPad, switching the light on at maximum power and then entering "shortcut.1", where the shortcut is the symbol that looks like a hand written "e", followed by a dot and then by a '1'. Now a bar will appear at the bottom of the screen and your Palm will be frozen. If you change your mind, reset it again.
  • Leave it alone until it switches off the screen, and then for 24/48h more.
  • Put the Palm on its cradle, let it reload a little and then try an HotSync. If you're lucky, it will work again.

My Palm doesn't sync and I have switched to XP, is it SUDS?
If you installed the Palm Desktop software on Windows XP with the version that came on the CD a couple of years ago, you will notice it does not work well (or not at all). This is a known issue with the USB driver, go to the Palm site and download the latest version of the Palm desktop, and everything will work fine.

I have had a m515 for a couple of years before it had SUDS a month ago. I have been rather desperate until I found out about SUDS and decided to try the DIY cure above. It worked great for me, so I think it would be nice to help other people with that issue.

Suds (?), n. pl. [Akin to sodden, seethe. See Seethe.]

Water impregnated with soap, esp. when worked up into bubbles and froth.

In the suds, in turmoil or difficulty. [Colloq.] Beau. & Fl.


© Webster 1913.

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