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How to fix a laptop USB port

Updated April 17, 2017

If USB devices such as jump drives, digital cameras or printers are no longer functioning properly when connected to your laptop, the problem could be with the device or with the USB ports in your computer. There are plenty of troubleshooting steps you can complete on your own to get the port up and running properly again. You can do a Windows update to see if that fixed the problem, or you may have to update your device drivers.

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  1. Click the Windows "Start" menu, select "All Programs" and choose "Windows Update." A Windows update sometimes fixes driver problems and could repair your USB port.

  2. Connect the USB device into a different USB port on the laptop or another computer to make sure the problem isn't with the device instead of the port. Check to see if the device has a "Write-Only" tab. Push that tab into the unlocked position if it still isn't working in a different port.

  3. If the device works in another computer, click "Start" and select "Computer." Plug a device into the port and wait to see if the USB port shows up in the list of drives. Click on "Map Network Drive" if the drive does not appear. Choose a drive letter from the drop-down menu and double-click the location of the USB device. Click "OK" and try to use the port again.

  4. Click "Start," select "Control Panel," choose "Hardware and Sound" and choose "Device Manager" under the Devices and Printers section. Scroll down the list of options and click the delta symbol to the left of the entry labelled "Universal Serial Bus Controllers." Double-click the name of the USB port that appears in the new menu. Click the "Drivers" tab and choose "Update Drivers." Wait for the driver to finish downloading and attempt to use the port again.

  5. Close the drivers tab and right-click the name of the USB port. Click on "Properties." Click the "Power Management" tab and remove the check from the check box labelled "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power." Choose the "Communications Port" tab and scroll down to the box labelled "Resources." Click the "Enable Device" button and click "OK." Attempt to use the USB port again.

  6. Close the Properties tab and right-click the name of the USB port. Click "Uninstall." Restart the laptop and plug a device into the USB port. Wait for a new window to pop up and follow the on-screen instructions to reinstall the USB port software.

  7. Restart the computer and press the "F1" key once the manufacturer's name appears on the screen. Scroll down through the list of options that appear and highlight the option labelled as "Advanced." Press "Enter" and then scroll down and press "Enter" on the "USB Support" option. Press "F10" to save the settings and finish loading the operating system.

  8. Open your Web browser if your laptop is running the Windows XP. Navigate to the Microsoft website and download and install the Windows XP USB 2.0 driver (see Resources). Restart the computer and try to use the USB port again.

  9. Tip

    If the USB port still will not work after completing the troubleshooting steps, there is a physical problem with the port that will require replacing the motherboard.

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About the Author

Ty Arthur has been writing technical and entertainment-related articles for a variety of online sources since 2008. His articles have appeared on Metalunderground.com and many other websites. Arthur attended the Great Falls College of Technology and studied both computer science and creative writing.

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