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Troubleshooting USB Connections (Windows Vista)

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This document applies to HP and Compaq Desktop computers with Windows Vista.
This document describes general troubleshooting tips for Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices in Windows Vista. Perform the steps in one of the following sections to find a solution.
NOTE: If your HP or Compaq PC was purchased prior to 2008, there is a Windows Vista USB rollup by Microsoft that resolves a variety of issues involving USB. To download and apply the software update and to learn more, please refer to the Microsoft support article 941600 Cumulative update rollup for USB core components in Windows Vista (in English).
NOTE: Some USB devices require USB device software drivers be installed before connecting the USB device to the computer, like multifunction printer/scanner/copiers. When installing a USB device always follow the installation documentation from the USB device manufacturer. In cases where the installation of a multifunction device has failed, it may be necessary to download and use a forced uninstall tool from the manufacturer's web site.

Where can I find the driver that upgrades my USB 1.0/1.1 ports to USB 2.0?

If you have upgraded your computer to Windows Vista, you will not find a driver upgrade to update USB hardware from 1 to 2. USB 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0 refer to hardware specifications - not software. However, if you are receiving PC messages stating that you should connect your USB 2.0 device into a high speed USB port and you know that you have a USB 2.0 port on your computer, there are certain USB controller upgrades that have been made available through Microsoft Windows Update that can better enable USB 2.0 on your computer. To get these updates use the following steps:
  1. Connect to the Internet if the computer is not already connected.
  2. Open Device Manager: click Start , and enter device manager into the Start Search field.
  3. Click the plus sign (+) next to Other Devices.
  4. If there are any references to USB, such as USB Host Controller, right-click the name and select Update Driver Software. Follow the information given to download and install any available updates.
    The name in Other Devices should be automatically be removed and then added to the Universal Serial BUS Controllers category.
  5. Test the USB device again. If the message appears, continue using these steps. If the message no longer opens, you are done.
  6. If there are no more references to USB in the other devices category, click the plus sign (+) next to Universal Serial Bus Controllers.
  7. Right-click the name of one of the Universal Host controllers and select Update Driver Software.
    Figure 1: Device Manager: Updating USB Host Controller
  8. Follow the screens that open to find and install any available updates through Microsoft.
  9. If any downloads were installed, test the USB device to see if the message continue to appear.

Important information about Legacy USB Support

Many USB problems in Windows Vista can be resolved by disabling USB Legacy Support in the BIOS.
NOTE:A USB keyboard or mouse must have USB Legacy Support enabled in the BIOS to work with MS-DOS-based utilities and non-Windows modes. Before using the following steps make sure a PS/2 mouse and keyboard is plugged in to the computer.
Use the following steps to enable or disable USB Legacy Support on the computer:
  1. Turn on or restart the computer.
  2. When the first screen displays press F10 repeatedly until the setup screen displays.
  3. Use the Left and Right arrow keys to select the Advanced tab.
  4. Use the Up, Down, keys to select Legacy USB Support and then press Enter.
  5. Use the Up, Down, and Enter keys to select Enabled or Disabled and Enter.
  6. Press F10 to save settings and exit.

USB devices are detected by Windows but are not working properly

Perform the following steps to troubleshoot the USB port when a USB device is not working properly:
  1. Unplug all USB devices connected to the computer. This includes thumb drives, printers, and video cameras. If you are using a USB mouse and keyboard, temporarily use PS/2 devices if available, otherwise leave them connected.
  2. Click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties.
  3. Click Device Manager.
  4. Click the (+) plus sign next to the Universal Serial Bus Controllers.
  5. Select USB Root Hub, and then click Uninstall icon. Continue until all USB Root Hubs are removed.
    Figure 2: Device Manager window with USB Root Hub selected
    Image of Device Manager
  6. Close Device Manager and restart the computer.
  7. If the USB device that is having problems came with software and it was not previously installed, install the software now following the manufacturer provided instructions.
  8. Reconnect the USB device that was having problems and test it to see if it works.
    The device should now work properly. If problems persist, continue using these steps.
  9. Click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties.
  10. Click Device Manager.
  11. Click the (+) plus sign next to the Universal Serial Bus Controllers. Double-click the device or USB Root Hub.
    On the General tab, one of the following four conditions is displayed:
    Unknown Device - If the device displays as an unknown device, check the following items:
    • If the USB device is connected to a USB port on a keyboard or hub, unplug it and plug it into a USB port on the computer.
    • The device may not be getting enough power. If other USB devices are connected to the system, remove all other USB devices (except keyboard and mouse) and try a different available USB port. If this solves the issue, use a powered USB hub to power more devices.
    Other Device - If the device displays under Other Devices the USB ports are working but the device software drivers need to be installed. Unplug the USB device and install the software drivers.
    Device Name Displays - If the name of the device is shown, the USB port is working properly. There is a physical problem with the device or there is an issue with the device software drivers. Try disconnecting the USB device, uninstalling the device's software (if any), and then reinstalling the software. Restart the computer and try connecting again. Refer to the manufacturer of the USB device for more information.
    Device Not Listed - If the device is not listed at all, continue to the next section; USB device not detected by the system.

USB device not detected by Windows

Perform the following steps to troubleshoot the USB port when the computer does not detect a USB device:
  1. Check Device Manager to see if the device displays under the USB section or the Other Devices section. To do this, follow the procedures below:
    1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties.
    2. Click Device Manager.
    3. Click the (+) plus sign next to the Universal Serial Bus controllers and next to Other Device section.
      Check for the USB device under the Universal Serial Bus controllers or under the Other Devices section.
    4. If the device is found under Universal Serial Bus controllers or Other Devices, click the reference name for the "unknown" device, and then click Uninstall icon to remove the device.
    5. Close Device Manager and restart the computer.
    6. If the USB device that is having problems came with software and it was not previously installed, install the software now following the manufacturer provided instructions.
    7. Reconnect the USB device that was having problems and test it to see if it works.
      The device should now work properly. Continue if the device name cannot be found in Device Manager.
  2. If the USB device is missing, double-click the USB Root Hub, click the Power tab, and then click Power Properties (if it is shown). The available ports and power usage is shown. If the displayed power is over 500mA, remove the devices and use a powered HUB. To check the properties of a HUB, double-click HUB and the HUB information window opens.
  3. Remove high-speed USB cables that are over three meters and use high-speed cables that are less than three meters.
    Only use high-speed cables less than three meters with high-speed USB devices (Multifunction devices, scanners, and cameras).
  4. If the USB device is connected to a USB port on a keyboard, unplug it and plug it into a USB port on the PC or into a powered HUB.
  5. There may be an issue with the USB port. Try plugging into a different USB port. If the USB device displays in Device Manager after plugging the cable into a different port, then uninstall and reinstall the USB device software driver.
  6. Consult the manufacturer of the device for support if the device still fails to display.

Error: Activation failure of BIOS USB

Enable Legacy USB Support in the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) by using the steps listed in Important information about Legacy USB Support .

When you click the Safely Remove Hardware icon in Windows Vista, a connected USB storage device does not appear

If you connect a USB storage device, such as a flash drive, the device may not appear in the Safely Remove Hardware window when you click the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the notification area.
Figure 3: Safely Remove Hardware
Image of Safely Remove Hardware window
The USB device may not appear if it was stopped previously and not unplugged from the USB port. Unplug the device, wait about 20 seconds, and then plug the device back in. The device should re-appear in the list. If not, restart the computer and try again.
If the device is a memory card in a USB card reader, restarting the computer should correct the problem. To prevent the problem from occurring in the future, do not use the safely remove hardware icon to remove a memory card. Instead, use Windows to eject the card. The following steps explain how to properly eject memory cards from a card reader:
  1. Insert a memory card when the light on the reader is not flashing. You can have four memory cards inserted, one in each slot, at the same time.
    An autoplay window appears. If not, access the card through Windows Explorer.
  2. The memory card has a drive letter associated with it, just like a floppy, CD-ROM drive, or hard drive. Use the memory card as you would use any other drive on the computer. For example, double-click the memory card icon to open a new window showing the files on the CompactFlash card.
  3. When you have finished working with the files on a memory card, right-click the memory card icon and select Eject. The light on the memory card reader should not be ON or flashing when the card is removed from its slot.
    Figure 4: Eject feature in Windows Vista
    Figure 5: Eject feature in Windows XP

The front USB ports do not work

If your computer came with USB ports on the front of the computer and they do not work, a cable inside the computer may have become unplugged. First though, make sure that the USB ports at the rear of the computer work by plugging in a USB device into the rear port. If the device is not recognized in the rear port, then use the other sections in this document to resolve the problem. Use the following steps to see if the front USB ports have become disconnected from the motherboard:
CAUTION:This product contains components that can be damaged by electrostatic discharge (ESD). To reduce the chance of ESD damage, work over a noncarpeted floor, use a static dissipative work surface (such as a conductive foam pad), and wear an ESD wrist strap connected to a grounded surface.
  1. Turn off the computer, unplug the power cable, and position the computer so that you can easily work on it. If necessary unplug cables and move it to table over a non-carpeted floor.
  2. Remove the side panel. If needed, you can find instructions that specifically match your computer by searching HP Customer Care (at the top of this page) using the PC model number and the terms "opening the case".
    Figure 6: Removal of side panel (your PC may look different but is similar)
     Image of the side panel being removed.
  3. Look inside the computer. Wires coming from the USB PCA board at the front of the computer are routed to a set of USB pins on the motherboard. Check to see if this connection is secure. If the wires are not connected or are partially connected, secure the wires to the proper USB connection on the motherboard.
    To find where the USB connector is located on the motherboard, look for 5 pairs of pins with a label that starts with USB, JUSB, FRONT_USB, or F_USB. If your motherboard has two sets of pins, FUSB1 and USB2 for example, use the lower number first. You can also refer to the motherboard specification that matches your specific model of computer. Find the motherboard specification from the Product Information category of your PC's HP Customer Care Support and troubleshooting Web page.
    Figure 7: An example of front USB wires connecting to the motherboard
     USB connection on motherboard
  4. After the Front USB wires are securely connected, replace the side panel.
  5. Plug in the power cable (and the mouse and keyboard if they were disconnected).
  6. Make sure that there are no devices or cables connected to the front USB ports.
  7. Turn on the computer and wait for Windows to find the new hardware.
  8. You can use the front ports after Windows has installed drivers for the USB ports.

You hear no audio from a newly connected USB audio device when using Windows Media Player 11

When a USB audio device is connected and Windows Media Player 11 is open, the computer may not recognize the newly connected device. This can occur when the computer has speakers connected to the audio-out port, and the new USB audio device is connected after clicking Stop in the Windows Media Player 11, and before you click Play. For example, you would hear audio only from the originally attached speakers, not from the newly connected headphones.
To resolve this problem, close Windows Media Player 11, and then open it again. This forces the player to recognize the new audio device.

You hear no audio playback after you unplug a USB audio device

When a USB audio device is unplugged, such as headphones or a microphone, no audio playback from the speakers is heard.
This may occur because Windows Vista does not detect that the USB audio device was removed, and is still trying to send audio from, or to, the unplugged device.
To resolve this problem, close the media player, and then open it, or restart the computer after each time you unplug a USB audio device. This forces Windows Vista to rebuild its playback graph and recognize that the removed device is unplugged.
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