How to Fix a Laptop USB Port Malfunction

Written by richard kalinowski
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How to Fix a Laptop USB Port Malfunction
USB ports are used for many devices, but they can occasionally malfunction. (USB image by Ewe Degiampietro from

Universal Serial Bus ports, or USB ports, allow for widespread external device compatibility across multiple computers. In short, USB ports let any computer use a plethora of devices. However, with so many devices using USB ports, a malfunctioning USB port can spell doom for your computer. When a USB port malfunctions, you may find yourself without your USB webcam, extra hard drive, printer or other crucial device. Luckily, you can fix a malfunctioning laptop USB port in only a few minutes.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Turn off your computer.

  2. 2

    Unplug the power supply, remove your laptop batter, and wait at least 30 minutes before returning the battery and power chord to the laptop. As explained by Trouble Fixers, a cache of data from your USB device is stored on the motherboard. This cache is not completely erased until the motherboard fully discharges following power-down. Once the cache is cleared, most USB errors will be fixed.

  3. 3

    Turn on your laptop computer.

  4. 4

    Try to use the malfunctioning USB port. In most cases, simply turning off and unplugging the laptop will help remedy the problem. If a problem persists, continue with Step 5.

  5. 5

    Click on the "Start Menu."

  6. 6

    Click to open the "Control Panel."

  7. 7

    Click on "System and Maintenance."

  8. 8

    Click on the "Device Manager." A new window will open that lists all hardware and external devices currently installed on your laptop computer.

  9. 9

    Scroll the list until you notice the heading "USB Root Hub." Click on this option.

  10. 10

    Select the USB port that reads "Unknown Device." All other, functioning USB ports should say "unused port" or list a specific external USB device.

  11. 11

    Right-click on the Unknown Device port and then select "Update Driver." According to the tech-help website, Amit Bhawani, this will trigger an automatic update of the USB drivers. If no new drivers are found, the old driver will also refresh and repair. In many cases, a malfunctioning port is simply caused by outdated driver software. With the latest drivers, your port can be used with current USB devices without any problems. If problems do reoccur, then the port may be physically damaged and you'll need to take the laptop computer to a computer repair technician to get a new USB port installed.

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