Laptop USB port not working?

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Laptop USB port not working?

Are you having issues with your newly purchased or existing laptop?

specifically usb port not working? i.e not picking up devices which are plugged into the port?

then here are a number of possible fixes which might just sort out your problem:

1 - use another usb port on the laptop?

have you tried another usb port on the laptop? This is the first thing you should try!
most laptops have more than one usb port, try another port! you might get lucky and another usb port on the laptop may work fine. So you can carry on where you left off. Just don't use the faulty usb port in future!
This happens because the usb port which is now faulty has been used the most often, this will in turn cause stress on the contacts on the motherboard causing microscopic cracks in the electrical contacts. Then you have a dodgy usb port. usually this will be an isolated problem and won't affect other parts of the motherboard.

2 - Update your usb drivers.

Go to the laptop manufacturers website and download the latest usb drivers for your laptop, check the version and the operating system it corresponds to.
Most of the time there will also be a breakdown of the fixes each version release was known to cure. You may be able to relate to them.

Chances are that the laptop came with a fresh install of the operating system in 98% of cases this would be windows xp.
In many cases the usb driver may need a newer version than the one that came with windows xp.
check which version of windows xp you have?
SP1 is the first and usually rare to find a laptop with SP1 nowadays, but it is always ideal to have SP3 on your system
Go to the microsoft website to download the latest service pack for your version of windows.
usually windows xp SP3 can solve some usb response issues, but also check the driver for the usb by going to start - control panel - system - device drivers - usb. check for any comments or device errors.

to update the driver just click on the link for update driver which appears along the top of the device driver window.
And point it to the directory where the usb device driver files were extracted to when you downloaded them from the laptop manufacturers website.

3  -  Update the Bios


If the laptop is a rather old pentium 3 or older laptop, then chances are the bios is also ancient, and might need upgrading to the latest version of the bios for the laptop. Go to the laptops website for example for dell laptops it will be support.dell.com, here you can enter the service tag for the machine you have and click on the bios tab and there is the latest driver available for your system.
download the file, then double click on then downloaded file. This will extract the files to your hard drive.
You might need a formatted 1.44" floppy disk to make a bootable floppy with the bios update files on it. This will be the case if the bios on your laptop is very old and does not accept hot changes of the bios without the need for a floppy boot.
Once you have managed to find a formatted floppy disk then just allow the program to copy the files to the floppy and then reboot the laptop with the floppy disk in the drive.

before you perform the next step, make sure you have the ac mains adapter connected to the laptop, you don't want to make the laptop into a brick by failing to flash the bios properly!

make sure that the laptop will boot from floppy first - change the settings in bios if necessary to allow this to happen otherwise your bios update will not happen!

Once the floppy has booted, then you will be met with a couple of screens where you need to confirm that you want to go ahead with the the flashing of the bios chip to the latest rom release. Press Y to confirm and the system will delete the old cmos bios version and replace it with the new bios version.
Once completed then the system will reboot or you need to confirm a reboot.

As soon as the operating system has loaded fully, try connecting the same usb device again, hopefully this time it will be picked up and you can carry on with whatever you were doing!

If this does not solve the issue then carry on to the next step:

4 - clean out the usb port

over time the usb port can accumulate dust and debris, this can cause the usb port to stop working.

try to clean out any debris in the usb port by using a can of compressed air and spray into the usb port to dislodge any debris which may have gotten into the port. If like most people you don't have a can of compressed air lying around, then just blow into the port or use a small cotton bud to clear out the contacts.

If this does not sort out the issue then the next steps are more technical and need to be performed by a trained IT professional:

5 - De-solder, clean, re-solder or replace USB port


strip down laptop and clean out motherboard and daughter board contacts for usb port circuit.
this would involve breaking the laptop down to the motherboard level, removing the motherboard from the laptop base plastics, and checking the motherboard usb contacts for damage or hairline cracks in the motherboard circuit traces using a bench microscope. In most case which have not been resolved with simple cleaning, driver or bios updates you will find that the contacts for the usb port are damaged in some way on the motherboard.

Over time usb ports can become non operative due to misuse and rough handling when removing or connecting various usb devices, a lot of strain is placed on the usb contacts on the motherboard, over time these contacts can crack at a microscopic level, this will then render the usb port intermittently faulty, and eventually dead.

The solution in this case would be to de-solder, clean the motherboard and contacts, and then resolder the usb ports back to the motherboard, this can be expensive and usually a last resort. in most cases the cost would render this repair uneconomical and a new motherboard or new laptop may be a better and cheaper option.
In most cases this will solve the issue with the usb port not picking up any new devices connected to it. But is an expensive and last ditch hope to get your usb port working again.

6 - Time to buy a new laptop!

Well if you have tried and failed to get your usb ports to work then sadly it is time to get a new laptop, if you can't live without your usb port.

I have many laptops and laptop parts for sale in my ebay shop. Please feel free to check out what I have for sale right now!

I hope that my advice has helped, if there are any comments please feel free to contact me.

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