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Thread: USB Failure

  1. #1
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    USB Failure

    USB recently failed on my desktop computer; here's how I fixed the problem. Perhaps my experience will be helpful to someone with the same issue.

    I have a Windows Vista era eMachines desktop computer. I don't have the model number handy, but suffice it to say that it is a "cheap" machine -- it maxes out at 2 GB of RAM, and there are only two SATA connections on the motherboard. I am now running Windows 7 Ultimate (32-bits).

    I have been having occasional problems with USB on my desktop computer. But I never could pin down what was the cause; and I always managed to get the problem fixed.

    I always knew when there was a problem with USB on my desktop computer, because my mouse would quit working, and I would lose my internet connection (I have a USB wireless NIC); however, my keyboard would continue working (I have a PS/2 keyboard).

    On a previous occurence of USB failure, I got a USB-to-PS/2 adapter out of my junk pile so that I could plug in my USB mouse to the PS/2 mouse port. That allowed my mouse to work and gave me a way to easily troubleshoot and fix the problem. I decided to leave the mouse connected to the PS/2 port, so that if USB failed again, the mouse would continue to work.

    A few weeks ago, USB failed again on my desktop computer. My USB wifi adapter wouldn't work, my external hard drive was no longer visible, and the desktop computer couldn't see flash drives when I plugged them in. Additionally, my wireless printer was no longer available. (The printer also became unavailable from my laptop.) It didn't make sense that the printer quit working, because the only common factor between the printer and my desktop computer was that I had connected the printer to my desktop computer via USB cable when I did the initial installation of the printer.

    (The fact that the wireless printer and USB on my desktop computer both failed at the same time made me think that there may have been some sort of power surge which caused the failure on both devices.)

    I got the printer back online by using my laptop to reinstall it, plugging in the USB cable to my laptop when required. I was then able to successfully reinstall it on my desktop computer.

    I tried uninstalling all USB devices in Device Manager on my desktop computer, and then let them reinstall, to see if that would fix the USB problem; it didn't. This made me think that there was a hardware issue, rather than a Windows issue, which was causing the USB failure.

    I figured the cheapest and easiest way to fix the problem was to install a USB card. I found a USB3 card on eBay for $10 (free shipping). I needed an additional Molex power connector, so I purchased a Molex 1-to-3 adapter, which gave me one available connector after I installed the card.

    I installed the card and then put in the install disk, to load the driver. Problem was, there were four different drivers on the disk! So I used the VEN/DEV method to find out who the manufacturer of the card was. Once I knew that, it was clear which driver needed to be installed.

    During the install process, I noticed that several times things would simply stop, and there was no prompt visible for me to click on. So I right clicked on the install icon on the task bar and told it to run the program. After a minute or two, things would start up again. I had to do this three or four times.

    Finally the install was finished. I rebooted, and I now had four USB3 ports on my ancient computer!

    I now tried to get my USB wireless NIC reinstalled. For some reason, the "full" install wouldn't work, so I had to go with the "driver only" install, which was fine with me.

    Happily, I could now remove the ethernet cable which had been stretched across my living room floor for several days!

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    WS Lounge VIP Coochin's Avatar
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    Sometimes USB device drivers get messed up. I often have to work on customers' computers with the problem. Uninstalling the problem devices from Device Manager usually fixes the problem.

    Run the following commands in an elevated command prompt (Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools, right-click "Command Prompt" then click "Run as Administrator"):

    SET DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1
    (enter)

    START DEVMGMT.MSC
    (enter)

    A "Device Manager" window will open, click "Show Hidden Devices" in the View menu.

    You can now uninstall any invalid/disconnected devices.

    Once you have finished uninstalling devices restart the computer; Windows should re-install any devices as necessary (but might prompt for driver software).

    WARNING: exercise caution, particularly with removal of sound, network, and non-plug'n'play devices; devices in these categories might be shown dimmed as if not present but are nevertheless needed for the parent device to function correctly.
    Computer Consultant/Technician since 1998 (first PC was Atari 1040STE in 1988).
    Most common computing error is EBKAC: Error Between Keyboard And Chairback
    AMD FX8120 (8-core @ 3.1GHz) CPU, Gigabyte GA-990FXA-D3 motherboard, 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1866MHz RAM, ATI-AMD Radeon HD6770 PCI-E VGA, 480GB Kingston SSD, 2TB Seagate SATA3.0 HDD, ASUS DVD/RW.

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    mrjimphelps (2015-09-16)

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    I ran the command, setting the variable to 1, then ran Device Manager.

    I then ran it again, this time setting the var. to 0, then ran Device Manager.

    In both cases, I had exactly the same USB devices listed.

    It seems like the built-in USB has died on my computer.

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    Silver Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    To rule out s/w issues I always boot to an alternate OS ( a live Linux works) and test.
    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

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    mrjimphelps (2015-09-17)

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    Quote Originally Posted by wavy View Post
    To rule out s/w issues I always boot to an alternate OS ( a live Linux works) and test.
    Me, too. I use a Linux Mint 17.2 LiveDVD, quite good for diagnosing hardware issues. If things work when booted to that disc it's back to looking at the installed Operating System for problems.

  8. #6
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wavy View Post
    To rule out s/w issues I always boot to an alternate OS ( a live Linux works) and test.
    That's a very good idea; I never even thought of it.

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    Silver Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    That's a very good idea; I never even thought of it.
    You fix things for a quarter century or sooo and you get a handle on some things..

    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

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