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Troubleshooting USB Connections (Windows 7)

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This document applies to HP and Compaq computers with Windows 7.
This document describes common errors and general troubleshooting tips for Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices in Windows 7.

Before you begin

Some USB devices, such as multifunction printer/scanner/copiers, require that the USB device software and drivers be installed before connecting the USB device to the computer. Always follow the installation documentation from the USB device manufacturer.
While troubleshooting the USB device, you will probably have to disconnect the USB device.
CAUTION:Always follow manufacturer instructions for disconnecting USB devices from the computer. Some USB devices must be turned off and/or ejected before they are disconnected from the computer. Some other USB devices support the Windows Safely Remove Hardware feature.

Troubleshooting steps

Perform the following steps, as applicable, to troubleshoot USB devices that are not working properly:
  1. Power: If the USB device operates on battery power, make sure the batteries are correctly seated and are functional. If the USB device operates on external power, make sure that all the power connections are secure and the power cord is connected to a power source.
  2. Test the USB connection: Sometimes, simply disconnecting and reconnecting the USB device to the computer can solve the problem:
    Unplug ALL USB devices connected to the computer except a USB mouse and keyboard (if in use). This includes hubs, thumb drives, printers, and video cameras.
    With all USB devices disconnected, do one of the following:
    If you have a desktop computer, connect the device that is not working properly into one of the USB ports on the back of the computer (the ports attached directly to the motherboard).
    If you have a notebook computer, connect the device that is not working properly into a USB port on the notebook. Do not use a USB port replicator (such as a docking station or USB hub).
    What happens when the device is connected?
    The device works properly: The problem is most likely related to power or poor overall system performance.
    NOTE:To prevent the USB device from failing in the future: Do not connect too many devices to the computer; wait 5 seconds after plugging in a device before using it; use powered hubs to connect other devices; and do not attach USB devices when the system is busy (running slower than normal).
    The device does not work: Leave the device connected and continue to the next step.
  3. Installing USB manufacturer software: Some USB devices require manufacturer software be installed before the USB device will work.
    1. If the USB device came with software, and it was not previously installed, install the software now, following the manufacturer provided instructions.
    2. After installing manufacturer software, 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 to the next step.
  4. Microsoft Fix it: Microsoft provides a web-based automatic diagnostic and repair application. Go to the Diagnose and fix Windows USB problems automatically (in English) page and click on the green Run now button. Then follow the on-screen instructions. If the device still does not work, go to the next step.
  5. Windows Update: Running Windows Update will check for operating system updates required for your computer. Go to Windows Update (in English) and follow the on-screen steps to check for updates, and opt in on all recommended and optional driver updates. If the device still does not work, go to the next step.
  6. Microsoft System Restore: If the USB device was previously working, and then subsequently became unusable, try using Microsoft System Restore to go back to a time prior to when the device failed. Refer to Using Microsoft System Restore (Windows 7) for more information. If the device still does not work, go to the next step.
  7. Troubleshooting the USB Device from Device Manager: USB devices are listed in the Device Manager. Follow the steps below, depending on how the device is listed in the Device Manager:
    1. Click Start , and then type Device Manager into the Search field.
    2. Click Device Manager from the results.
      Device Manager opens.
    3. The device will be listed as one of the following:
      • Unknown Device: A driver is not installed or was not set up correctly (Such as, when a USB device was removed while Windows was still setting it up as newly found hardware.). To correct this problem, uninstall and reinstall the driver for the device, as follows:
        1. Unplug the device
        2. Right-click "Unknown Device", and select Uninstall. The Confirm Device Uninstall window opens.
        3. Click the box next to Delete the driver software for this device. Then click OK.
        4. Disconnect the USB device from the computer.
        5. Restart the computer.
        6. Reinstall the device per the manufacturer instructions.
      • Other Device: The USB ports are working but device drivers need to be installed. To correct this problem:
        1. Unplug the USB device, and wait 20 seconds
        2. Install the drivers per the manufacturer instructions.
      • Device Name is shown: USB ports and basic plug-and-play are working properly. There is a physical problem with the device or there is an issue with the device drivers. One of the following steps might resolve the problem:
        • Restart the computer and try plugging in the USB device again.
        • Disconnect the USB device, uninstall the device's software (if any), and then reinstall the software.
        • Uninstall and reinstall the device as follows:
          1. With the device connected, right-click the name of the device in Device Manager and select Uninstall.
          2. After the name of the device is removed, unplug the device and restart the computer.
          3. Try installing the device again per the manufacturer instructions.
        • If the device is a communication device, double-click the device name and set the COM port to a different number; from COM4 to COM3 for example.
      • Device is not listed: If the device is not listed at all, go to the next step.
  8. Uninstalling USB Root Hubs: Uninstalling USB Root Hubs forces the system to reinstall the root hubs next time the computer is started. Use the following steps to uninstall USB Root Hubs:
    1. Unplug all USB devices connected to the computer except a USB mouse and keyboard (if in use). This includes hubs, thumb drives, printers, and video cameras.
    2. Click Start , and then type Device Manager into the Search field.
    3. Double-click Universal Serial Bus Controllers to expand the list.
    4. Right-click the first USB Root Hub in the list and then select Uninstall.
      Figure 1: Uninstall selection in the Device Manager window
      Uninstall selection in the Device Manager window
      Continue uninstalling all USB Root Hubs listed.
    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.

USB device not detected by Windows 7 (no device name in Device Manager) - Possible power requirement issue

Unplug the device and perform the following steps until the device is detected:
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. Plug in the device and wait 5 seconds. If the device is not recognized, unplug it and go to the next step.
  3. Click Start , and then type Device Manager into the Search field.
  4. Double-click Universal Serial Bus Controllers to expand the list.
  5. Double-click a USB Root Hub, click the Power tab, and then click Power Properties (if it is shown).
    Devices that are attached to the hub are shown, as well as the power that they require. If the total displayed power is over 500 mA, remove the devices and use a powered hub.
    Figure 2: USB Root Hub Power Properties window showing two devices using 198 of 500 mA
    USB hub properties showing a listing of devices with their required power usage
  6. Continue looking at the power properties of each USB hub. If the total Power Required exceeds the Total power available for the hub, then remove a device on that hub to lower the Power Required number.
  7. Plug in the device and wait 5 seconds. If the device is not recognized, unplug it and go to the next step.
  8. Remove high-speed USB cables that are over three meters in length and use high-speed cables that are shorter than three meters.
    Only use high-speed cables shorter than three meters in length with high-speed USB devices (Multifunction devices, scanners, and cameras).
  9. If the USB device is connected to a USB port on a keyboard, unplug it and plug it into a USB port on the computer or into a powered hub.
  10. 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.
  11. Consult the manufacturer of the device for support if the device still fails to display.

USB storage device is not shown in Safely Remove Hardware window of computers running Windows 7

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 Windows desktop notification area.
Figure 3: Safely Remove Hardware task tray icon
Safely Remove Hardware task tray icon
USB storage device: The USB device may not appear if it was stopped previously and not unplugged from the USB port. Use the following steps to cause the device to appear in the Safely Remove Hardware window:
  1. Unplug the device, wait approximately 20 seconds, and then plug the device back in.
    The device should appear in the list of the Safely Remove Hardware window.
  2. If the device does not appear in the list, then restart the computer and repeat step 1.
Memory card in a USB card reader: If the device is a memory card in a USB card reader, restarting the computer should correct the problem.
NOTE:Do not use the Safely Remove Hardware icon to remove a memory card. To remove a memory card, use Windows to eject the card by following these steps:
  1. Insert a memory card when the light on the reader is not flashing.
    An Autoplay window appears. If it does not appear, open the card using Window Explorer.
  2. The memory card has a drive letter associated with it, just like a thumb drive, CD-ROM drive, floppy 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.
    Figure 4: Eject feature in Windows 7
  4. Wait for the light on the memory card reader to turn off or stop flashing. Then remove the memory card from its slot.

USB 3.0 ports stop working after Texas Instruments XHCI controller update

An incompatible update for the Texas Instruments XHCI controller was delivered through Microsoft Windows Update. If your computer received this update, use the following steps to roll the controller driver back to the previous version:
  1. Click Start, enter device manager into the search field, and then click Device Manager from the results.
  2. In Device Manager, click the plus sign (+) next to Universal Serial Bus Controllers to expand the list.
  3. Right-click Texas Instruments XHCI Controller and then select Properties.
    NOTE:If Texas Instruments XHCI Controller is not listed, then this is not what is causing the problem with your USB Device. Stop here, and try another suggested solution in this document.
    Figure 5: Device Manager showing Texas Instruments XHCI Controller listing
     Device Manager windows showing Texas Instruments XHCI Controller listing
  4. Click the Driver tab, and then click Roll back driver.
  5. Click Yes on the confirmation window to go back to the previous driver.
  6. Click Close, and then restart your computer. The USB ports should work again.
    NOTE:If the USB ports still do not work, the wires connecting the USB board to the motherboard USB pins might not be securely connected. The computer might need to be serviced to connect the USB board wires to the motherboard connectors.

Windows 7 freezes or data transfers fail when using a USB device

Data transfers fail or Windows 7 may stop responding when using a USB device with the NVIDIA USB Enhanced Host Controller Interface (EHCI). If your computer is using the NVIDIA USB Enhanced Host Controller Interface (EHCI) chipset, download and install a hotfix from Microsoft. For more information, see Microsoft's support article You encounter problems when you move data over USB from a Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2-based computer that has an NVIDIA USB EHCI chipset and at least 4GB of RAM (in English).

Error: Activation failure of BIOS USB

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

The front USB ports do not work on your desktop PC

If your desktop 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, 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 non-carpeted 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 a 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 model number of your computer and the term "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. Also, you can refer to the motherboard specification that matches your specific model of computer. Find the motherboard specification from your computer's HP Customer Care Support 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 previously 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 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 might occur because Windows 7 did not detect that the USB audio device was removed and is still trying to send audio to the unplugged device.
To resolve this problem, close the media player, and then open it, or restart the computer after you unplug a USB audio device. This forces Windows to rebuild its playback graph and recognize that the removed device is unplugged.

About USB Legacy Support

Many USB problems can be resolved by disabling USB Legacy Support in the BIOS. This setting may not be available on your computer model. The steps to access USB Legacy Support may vary.
NOTE:When a computer uses legacy USB Support, 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 are 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 Upand Down keys to select USB Legacy Support, and then press Enter.
  5. Use the Up, Down, and Enter keys to select Enabled or Disabled, and then press Enter.
  6. Press F10 to save settings and exit.
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