How to Troubleshoot a USB Port

By Julie Elefante

A Universal Serial Bus (USB) port is a connection type that allows different types of components, from keyboards to hard drives, to easily connect and function. A USB port utilizes a feature called "Plug and Play," which means few drivers are needed for the hardware to function properly because the operating system already has the proper drivers to run the component(s). Unfortunately USB's "Plug and Play" feature can be interrupted or corrupted by different objects such as corrupted drivers, a bad USB component or physical damage to the port.

Things You'll Need

  • Working USB component

Step 1

Determine if there is any physical damage to the USB port, such as a burned port or bent USB pins in the port.

Step 2

Use any working USB device to test the ports. If the device doesn't function, you will receive errors such as "Unrecognized USB device," or nothing at all will happen.

Step 3

Remember the last items that were installed that could have caused this issue, such as a bad USB component or software that altered the configuration of the USB port.

Step 4

Uninstall the software, or replace the component with a working USB component.

Step 5

Test the USB port once the computer loads.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the computer was working fine before you installed the faulty software, remove the software and test the port with a working component to see if it restores the USB. If not, you may have to reinstall the operating system.
  • If there is physical damage on the USB port such as burn marks or bent pins, do not attempt to insert the component in that port. This can result in losing the component and doing further damage to the computer. Once a USB port has gone bad, it cannot be repaired.Do not have the computer plugged in during times of possible power surges such as a storm. Lightning strikes can arch into your computer and damage components, especially USB ports and components connected to them. Manufacturers' warranties will not cover this, and you will have to spend money to replace the component(s).