USB Ports Not Working

Category: Hardware

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...

USB ports 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...

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Most recent comments on "USB Ports Not Working"

(See all 21 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

25 Mar 2010

I like to use this program on these problems
USBDeview from

Posted by:

25 Mar 2010

Here's another tip: Your USB device may draw more power than the USB port can supply.

I've had intermittent problems with my iPod not being recognized correctly when I connect it to my laptop. I discovered the problem: insuffient power.

When I plug the iPod into my USB ports on the PCMCIA adapter, the PCMCIA adapter's USB port can't supply the power needed by the iPod. The iPod works fine if I plug it into a powered USB hub which is connected to the PCMCIA adapter.

(I use a 2 port USB2.0 PCMCIA adapter since my old laptop only has the slower USB 1.0 ports.)

Posted by:

Mac PowerBook G4
26 Mar 2010

Port #1 of two ports on my G4 laptop suddenly stopped working while surfing. I switched my modem cable to port #2 to see if I could reconnect online and it worked fine. I retested port #1 and still nothing worked. This isolated the problem to a single malfunctioning port.

I was using an unpowered 4-port USB expander at the time the problem developed. I unplugged the modem cable from the expander and plugged it directly into the non-functioning port. It worked. Then I reattached the port expander with a full load of equipment attached and everything started working again. This leads me to believe that I had too much of a power draw on the port at one time and it just shut down for some reason. I seem to have restarted it by trying it with fewer peripherals plugged in. Once restarted it seemed to do fine.

Posted by:

30 Mar 2010

I have many of the same problems with my USB,s.My worst problem is that my external Harddrive(Seagate Free Agent) would not work.I tried all the tricks mentioned and another 20 not mentioned.
None worked.The drive would work ok when frist started in the morning.But when I shut the computer down and came back to work on it again the drive would not work or anything else connected to the USB,s.I checked the device manager and it did not reconize any of my USB devices.The solution I found was to disconect the A.C. input and let the computer set for about 15 min.When I turn back on it all worked.

Posted by:

30 Mar 2010

When I got a new drive I decided to have a clean install of XP Pro. I selected the new drive in BIOS and was off to the races. A short while later I discovered that my printer was nowhere to be found. After much head scratching I discovered that two USB ports were not working - but only when booting from the new drive! If I booted from the original then all was well. Since I had a port extender in hand I used it and never found out why this happened.

Posted by:

03 Apr 2010

I have given up on getting my XP computer to recognize things like USB jump drives. It seems to do OK with USB hard drives and mice, but not flash drives. I have tried all the suggestions, including deleting the USB stuff from Device Manager and letting it rediscover (BTW, mine says Hubs and controllers, but not ports...). I have also tried to limit drives lower than H, because Windows used to need at least two letters below H to accept a plug in. I quit. I now dowload stuff on my wife's Vista computer and copy them from a shared drive. Who'd have thought Vist a would come to the rescue.....

Posted by:

27 Aug 2010

I have tried all suggested above and the problem is there. I have lost up to 4 flash drives (USB). My mobile phone also cannot connect to my pc because the USB is bad, infact, I cant charge my phone battery because the USB is bad. Please any further advice?

Posted by:

Roy Maisey
29 Aug 2010

The cable connecting a front USB port to the motherboard contains 4 wires - 2 for power and 2 for data (the outside 2 for power and the centre 2 for data). These wire are usually bunched together. Data is transmitted much better if the 2 data wires are separated from the power wires, and twisted together (as in "twisted pair"). This "twisting" cancels interference which greatly improves data transmission. This can often resolve problematic front USB ports.

Posted by:

Neil Barrett
07 Dec 2010

I have an HP Officejet Pro L7480 printer plugged in to a USB port on my Dell Dimension 5000. When it is switched on other USB devices that I plug in are not recognised (USB sticks, hard drives etc.). If I switch off or disconnect the printer then all is well. Irritating but manageable once one has identified this behaviour.

Posted by:

Fernando Bonilla
17 Dec 2010

I've had this toshiba laptop for about 3 months and the 2 usb ports i usually connect my usb mouse and speakers to doesnt seem to work anymore. ive tried everything here- the restarting the computer, taking the battery out, running device manager and re-installing all the controllers- but still device manager still says everythings working properly and my mouse and speakers dont work. ive used these 2 on my desktop and they work fine. i haven't opened up my laptop yet, i dont really want to but will if it comes down to it. the weird part is a few times when i start up my computer, my speakers and mouse actually do work, but as soon as windows starts up both the mouse and speakers shut off. please help!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds like a job for System Restore. See

Posted by:

18 Dec 2010

I had an on-going problem with USB ports not working. Tried rolling back, updating and re-installing drivers with no luck. Finally I was able to fix the issue by disconnecting the power cable from the PC. I didn't realize this but apparently USB ports can get corrupted and can fail, but on my machine they always have a current even if the PC is powered down, so the corrupted pots would never re-set. Unplugging the PC then powering back up did the job!

Posted by:

02 Mar 2011

I have tried restarting my computer and unplugging it, nothing. I have tried so much and it's so hard to do everything when I have a USB mouse and a USB network adapter so I can't install new drivers or update the drivers online... I need help!

Posted by:

02 Mar 2011

Running a Dell Demension 2400 desk top computer and having trouble loading and setting up a ham radio programing system for a new radio. Everythng seemed to load ok but when I attempt to start logging all the data and click READ, it says attempt failed. I look at my comm port info and it shows only 2 ports #1 and #3, one in use and the other one is my printer. The program calls for comm port #4 but it doesn't show in my system any place. I thought I had lots comm ports in my computer but can't find any more..How can I get to or install a #4 comm port?. Thanks in advance, Mac/David

Posted by:

22 Jul 2011

Hi Bob, great web site that you maintain !
My USB's are quite strange, I have a wireless network adapter connected to USB, one web cam, key board, the mouse and an external drive. If I add anything else, the the wireless network adapter stops working. Is there a limit to how many USB's I can have?
thanks for your advices


Posted by:

02 Feb 2012

My Dell Dimension 2400 would not recognize a Kingston card reader but if it did open, the computer would freeze. I changed the battery in my Dell and now it works with the card reader.

Posted by:

16 Mar 2012

i have a TV external card (usb 2.0)
i want it be pluged for ever to one of my usb ports & it must not be needed for me to unplug it.
but each time i turn off then on my computer windows XP says that its not connected
what can i do??

Posted by:

20 Apr 2012

when i connect my usb mouse the pc gets stuck and lan disconnects automatically..i don't know what is the problem..i have never heard this kind of can a usb device disconnects network?please help me to solve this problem

Posted by:

06 Aug 2013

i am running windows xp I try to install a pci usb card, but a message say "this hardware no pass the windows logo test. y get another and the same; no pass windows logo test. What i need to find a usb that pass windows logo test ?

EDITOR'S NOTE: It probably doesn't matter. Proceed with the installation and see if the device works.

Posted by:

07 Aug 2013

the mouse stop working if i do that. i had a problem to fix my pc.when i click do it any way, boom..everything stop.

Posted by:

10 Jan 2014

I have an HP Pavillion 1600 running windows xp. All my USB ports stopped working, so the only thing I have that works is the keyboard (not using a USB port). I have tried rebooting several times, disconnecting, even tried different USB devices on every port (all 8 of them). Nothing works on any USB port and all I get is a message that says that the USB device is malfunctioning, which I know is not the case, as these devices work fine on other machines. I tried to navigate by just using the keyboard, but to no avail. Am I just doomed to replace?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds like it's a software issue, so you might try System Restore, if you can remember when it stopped working.

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