USB devices not working or connecting properly is a common issue that most computer users face at some point. There could be several reasons why your USB device like a flash drive, external hard drive, mouse, keyboard etc. is not detected, connecting intermittently or running slow when connected to your computer. But don’t worry – in most cases, troubleshooting USB connection issues is easy and can be fixed with simple solutions. Here are the main steps you can take to troubleshoot and fix USB device connection problems on your Windows PC.
1. Check Physical Connection
The first thing to check is whether your USB device is properly plugged into the USB port on your computer. Examine the USB cable and connector to ensure there is no physical damage. Try connecting the USB device into another USB port on your computer. If it works in one USB port but not another, the non-working USB port could be damaged.
Also check that the USB cable is securely fitted at both ends – in the USB device and the computer’s USB port. A loose connection can interrupt power and data transfer leading to connectivity issues. If using a USB hub or extension cable, check the connections at the hub/extension side as well. Replace damaged cables to fix connectivity problems.
2. Update USB Drivers
Outdated, corrupted or missing USB drivers can prevent devices from connecting properly. Updating to the latest USB drivers can resolve many connectivity issues. Here are the steps to update drivers:
- Open Device Manager (right-click Start menu and select it)
- Expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers section
- Right-click on the USB device with issues and select Update driver
- Search automatically for updated driver software, or browse your computer for the driver
- Restart your PC after the driver update
This will install the latest drivers for the USB controller and any connected USB devices, which should fix any driver-related problems.
3. Uninstall USB Controllers
Corrupted USB drivers can prevent proper device detection. If updating drivers does not help, you can uninstall USB controllers to reinstall them clean and fix USB detection issues:
- Open Device Manager and expand Universal Serial Bus controllers
- Right-click on each USB controller device and select Uninstall device
- Check ‘Delete the driver software for this device’ and confirm Uninstall
- Restart your PC and Windows will automatically reinstall the USB controllers
This removes any corrupted drivers and replaces them with fresh copies, fixing problems connecting USB devices.
4. Disable USB Selective Suspend
The USB selective suspend setting can sometimes lead to connectivity problems with USB devices. Disabling it prevents USB ports from going into power saving sleep mode:
- Go to Power Options in Windows Settings > System > Power & sleep
- Click on Additional power settings
- Click Change plan settings for your active power plan
- Click Change advanced power settings
- Expand USB settings and disable USB selective suspend setting
This will stop USB ports from suspending when not in use and fix any issues caused by power management features.
5. Uninstall Security Software
Antivirus suites, firewalls and other security tools can sometimes block USB devices from connecting properly. As a test, temporarily uninstall or disable any security software on your PC and check if USB devices work without issues. If they do, contact the security software vendor about the compatibility issues.
6. Change USB Power Settings
Insufficient power can cause connectivity problems with some USB devices. Changing USB power settings may resolve this:
- Go to Device Manager, expand Universal Serial Bus controllers
- Right click on USB Root Hub device > Properties > Power Management
- Uncheck ‘Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power’
Repeat this for each USB root hub shown
This will keep USB ports powered on at all times. Reconnect your USB device to check if the problem is resolved.
7. Update BIOS/UEFI Firmware
On some PCs, outdated motherboard firmware can lead to USB issues. Check your manufacturer’s website for any available BIOS or UEFI firmware updates and install them:
- Download updated BIOS/UEFI files for your motherboard model
- Follow instructions to flash the firmware update
- Restart your PC and reconnect USB devices
Updated firmware optimizes compatibility and can fix USB bugs in the BIOS/UEFI code.
8. Use a USB Hub
If your USB device has connectivity issues when directly connected to the PC’s USB port, try using a powered USB hub. Connect the hub to your PC, plug your USB device into the hub, and check if the connectivity problems persist. A good quality USB hub isolates the device from power fluctuations and interference in your PC which may fix certain USB issues.
9. Check for Malware
Malware infections can also cause problems with USB device connectivity. Run a full system scan using reliable antivirus software to check for malware, viruses, spyware etc. Remove any infections found, and try reconnecting your USB device.
You can also boot into safe mode with networking and try your USB devices there. If they work in safe mode, it indicates an active malware/software issue in normal mode.
10. Recover Corrupted Files
For USB flash drives, recovering corrupted files and fixing file system errors can resolve connectivity problems in some cases:
- Plug the flash drive into a working PC
- Run chkdsk in Command Prompt to scan and fix errors
- Use data recovery software to salvage corrupted files
- Reformat if necessary before reusing the flash drive
This will fix any filesystem problems on the flash drive and restore proper functionality.
11. Test on Another PC
To check if the USB problems are caused by your specific PC and not the device, try connecting the USB device to another computer. If it connects fine on other PCs, the issue is with your PC’s USB ports, drivers etc. You can then troubleshoot your computer-specific problems.
12. Disable Power Saving Modes
Power-saving features in Windows can sometimes interrupt USB device connectivity. Disable any screen savers, sleep or hibernation modes in the Power & sleep settings to rule out power management issues.
Also set your external hard drives to never power down in Hard drive settings. Test your USB devices with power saving disabled.
USB connectivity issues can arise due to physical damage, outdated drivers, power problems, hardware faults as well as software errors. Methodically go through the troubleshooting steps outlined above to identify and resolve the specific problem with your USB device.
Update USB and chipset drivers, tweak power management settings, reinstall USB controllers and check for malware to fix software-related issues. For hardware problems, inspect connections, test devices on other PCs and replace damaged cables or faulty ports. Contact the device manufacturer for further support if needed.
With some dedicated troubleshooting using these methods, you should be able to get your USB devices working and connected properly again on your Windows PC.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is my USB device not showing up?
Common reasons your USB device may not show up include outdated drivers, disabled USB controllers in Device Manager, power management settings suspending USB ports, loose cable connections, broken USB ports or physical damage to the device or cable.
2. How do I fix USB power problems?
To fix insufficient/fluctuating power to USB ports, disable USB selective suspend in Power settings, change USB Root Hub power management to disable power saving in Device Manager, and disable screen savers/sleep modes in Power & sleep options.
3. What causes USB slow transfer speeds?
Slow USB speeds can be caused by outdated USB drivers, crowded ports with multiple devices drawing power, underpowered USB controllers, faulty cables, malware, competing programs accessing the device or hardware problems on the USB device itself.
4. Why does my USB keep disconnecting?
Frequent disconnections of USB devices are typically caused by loose connections, broken USB ports, issues with power management features, outdated chipset/USB drivers or interference from other connected devices.
5. How do I troubleshoot USB power problems?
Steps to troubleshoot USB power issues: Test devices on other PCs, connect via a powered hub, check cable condition, update USB drivers, disable selective suspend, change USB Root Hub power settings, disable power saving modes in Windows.
Video Guide on Fixing USB Issues
Here is a video demonstrating the steps to troubleshoot and resolve common USB connectivity problems on Windows:
USB Diagnostic Tools
These free tools can help diagnose USB problems in more detail and monitor connections:
- USBLogView – Logs all USB device connections and disconnections in real-time.
- USB Device Tree Viewer – Visualize all USB host controllers and connected USB devices.
- USBView – Inspect USB configuration, drivers, devices and connectivity status.
- DiskView – Monitor read/write activity on connected USB drives.
The connection logs and device information provided by these tools can help identify the exact cause of your USB issues.
Fixing Specific USB Device Problems
External Hard Drive Not Detected
If your external USB hard drive is not detected, try different cables, ports and PCs. Update drivers, check for loose connections, reconnect power cables, uninstall in Device Manager and reboot. Remove from external case and connect directly via SATA if applicable. Reset BIOS settings if drive is not detected at boot.
USB Flash Drive Not Recognized
For unrecognized flash drives, reconnect to another PC to isolate PC issues. Try different cables and USB ports. Format using FAT32 for wider compatibility. Scan for malware. Recover corrupted data and reformat if needed. Disable USB power saving and selective suspend options.
USB Mouse/Keyboard Not Working
For USB mice and keyboards, replace batteries if applicable. Unplug and reconnect to reset connection. Try different USB ports. Update USB and chipset drivers. Remove and reinstall USB controllers in Device Manager. Turn off legacy USB support in BIOS if device stops working after Windows loads.
USB Device Slow Transfer Speeds
For slow USB speeds, update USB drivers, disconnect other USB devices, disable power saving modes, close background apps accessing USB, try better quality USB cables, connect devices to rear motherboard ports, and check for malware or file system errors.
USB Hub Not Working
If your USB hub is not detecting devices, try connecting hub to different USB ports, replace hub power cable if it’s a powered hub, update USB drivers and USB controllers, check if hub shows up in Device Manager, and disable power saving modes.
Advanced USB Troubleshooting
For advanced troubleshooting, you can dig deeper into USB settings and data flows:
- Inspect USB descriptor data for devices using USBView or Device Manager
- Monitor USB traffic with a USB analyzer/protocol analyzer tool
- Check Event Viewer for USB related error logs and messages
- Verify USB power delivery with a voltage/current meter
- Test USB data lines for shorts and disconnects with a multimeter
Examining technical USB parameters and signals can help narrow down complex, intermittent or hard to diagnose USB issues.
USB Port Location Tips
USB connectivity and speeds may improve by following these port selection guidelines:
- Connect high-power devices directly to motherboard rear ports
- Avoid connecting high-bandwidth devices to front case ports
- Distribute devices among different USB controllers
- Minimize cable extension lengths for high-speed devices
Rear motherboard ports receive better power delivery and may have better signal quality due to shorter cable distance to the USB controllers.
Preventing USB Problems
You can take some proactive steps to avoid USB issues in the first place:
- Keep USB drivers updated using Device Manager or utility software
- Carefully insert USB devices to avoid hardware damage
- Use high quality USB cables for optimal power and signal transfer
- Insert USB devices directly into ports instead of extensions/hubs when possible
- Connect power-hungry devices into powered USB hubs if needed
- Swap out damaged cables and faulty USB ports/hubs
Following good connection practices and keeping USB hardware in good condition can prevent many connectivity problems.
When to Seek Professional Help
If you exhaust all the troubleshooting steps but USB issues persist, consider professional computer repair. Technical experts can better inspect hardware issues, diagnose complex problems, microsolder components if needed, and perform advanced USB debugging and signal analysis. Seek help earlier if the problems started after a hardware issue like liquid spills, power surges or physical damage.