USB Ports Not Working
USB ports are handy, carefree devices when they work properly. They allow you to quickly attach a camera, printer, flash drive and many other devices to your computer. But sometimes you run into a snag - you plug your gadget into a USB port, and nothing happens. Here's what to do when your USB ports are not working...
Help, My USB Ports Are Not Working
Problems with USB ports can be difficult to diagnose. But there are some common causes of USB port malfunctions and various fixes you can try.
If a device plugged into a USB port doesn't work, the problem may be in the USB port or in the device itself. Let's first check to see if the USB port is working properly from a software perspective.
Start by running Windows Update. Keeping your system up to date will ensure you have components that work well together. Next, navigate to the Windows Device Manager console. The procedure for doing this varies from Windows XP to Vista/Windows 7.
In XP, click Start, then Run, and enter the Devmgmt.msc command in the Run box. That should load the Device Manager console directly, without navigating through several menus. In Vista/Windows 7, click Start and type "device manager" into the Search box. A link to Device Manager should appear in the search results and you can click it to open Device Manager.
Locate your USB ports in the tree of active devices. Click on each USB port entry to open its Properties window. You should see "this device is working properly" in that window. If you don't, try the following:
Trouble with a USB port is often in its software driver. The active copy of the driver may become corrupted or get deleted somehow. If you have recently upgraded to a newer version of Windows, the old driver may not have been replaced with one that works with the new version of Windows. Click on Update Driver to fetch the latest driver that is compatible with your operating system.
If Windows can't find an appropriate USB driver for a device it will ask if you want to insert a disk containing the driver. Do so if you have one, or go download the right driver from the support website of your computer's manufacturer. A quick Google search will usually help you find the driver.
Blame the Hardware
If Device Manager reports that the USB port is working properly, and the device is still not recognized after updating the driver, the problem could be hardware-related. It's unlikely, but still possible, that the USB port itself could be damaged. If you have kids, who knows what they might stick in there. Try a different port or try the device on another computer, and see if that brings you the familiar "ber-bling!" sound signalling that a USB device was just connected.
Play the "device connected" sound:
If the device is still not recognized, the problem must be in the device that you are plugging into the port. If the device is broken, there's no magic that will fix it. But sometimes the most vexing problems have a simple solution.
As I reported in my article Do Computers Get Tired? sometimes just turning your computer off and back on can work wonders. If you have a problem with a USB device, power off your computer, unplug the device, count to ten, restart the computer, and re-insert the USB device. Sometimes, it does the trick.
I've had my own problems with balky USB ports, and after trying all of the above, I finally opened up the system unit, and thoroughly cleaned out the accumulated dust with a can of compressed gas. I also noticed that the USB ports on the front of my computer were connected to the motherboard with a wire. I unplugged and replugged that wire to the motherboard, fired up the computer, and everything worked fine. The problem reoccurred a few months later and the same remedy worked again. I'm not sure if it was the cleaning or the replugging of the connector, but that's my story and I'm sticking with it.
Do you have something to say about USB ports not working? Post your comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Mar 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- USB Ports Not Working (Posted: 25 Mar 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved