Dead USB Port? Here’s How to Diagnose and Fix It!

Ads by Google

Did you plug a USB drive into your computer yesterday, but today it doesn’t show up? Yet that drive works in the other USB ports on your computer. The problem may be the port! This is one of those computer issues that happens so rarely, we tend to blame the USB drive itself; just plug it in somewhere else and carry on. However, USB devices are still on the rise in popularity and show no signs of slowing down. USB flash drives, USB chargers for your phone, USB to connect your iPod, USB coffee warmers, USB is everywhere! So you NEED all your ports working. Here’s what you can do to check out your USB port and some tips on fixing it.

Physical Examination

The first thing that you want to do is to see if the USB port is physically damaged. A simple test is to put your USB Flash Drive into the port and see if it wiggles up and down really easily. Be gentle doing this! You don’t want to create a hardware problem if you don’t already have one. If you’re not sure how sturdy the USB port should be, do the same thing in a port that you know works and compare the two. If it is definitely loose, you’ll probably want to move right to the end of this article where we talk about dealing with USB port hardware issues. If not, follow the steps we have here.

Restart Computer

Before you get carried away with Device Manager, try the old tech support standby – turn it off and turn it on again. Sometimes that works by forcing the operating system to scan for hardware, like the USB port, and makes it work again. If that doesn’t work, then it’s time to get into Device Manager.

Check Device Manager

You can launch the Device Manager in a few different ways, but here’s the quickest one: Click on the Start menu and type devmgmt.msc then hit Enter. Device Manager should start up right away. You’ll see the following window:


Device Manager shows all the categories of devices that can be installed in your computer. At this point in time, you want to look at the Universal Serial Bus controllers entries. Click on the arrow head to expand the selection. You will see something like the window below:

Ads by Google


This might not make much sense to you, but there is some useful information here. See where it says Intel(R) 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller? That is the specific type of USB Host Controller for my computer. The key words are USB Host Controller. Find those in your Device Manager. If you cannot find any, this may be our problem.

Click on the Scan for hardware changes button in the toolbar. You can see it highlighted in the image below. This will force your computer to check all of your hardware again. If you’re lucky, this will pick up the USB port, and you’ll see a USB Host Controller in the list. If not, then the problem isn’t fixed yet.


From here, things get a little tougher. You’ll still be working in Device Manager for now. If you are working with a desktop computer, with your mouse and keyboard plugged into USB ports, you may need to manually force a restart with the following steps. Uninstalling the USB Host Controllers will disable your USB devices.

Under the Universal Serial Bus controllers heading, you will right-click on the first USB Host Controller. That will bring up a small menu like this one:



Click on Uninstall. Repeat that process for any remaining USB Host Controller. Now restart the computer. This will force the computer to poll for these controllers and, hopefully, pick up the one that isn’t responding.

While you’re in the Device Manager, did it seem like there were an awful lot of devices installed that might no longer be in your computer? Sometimes the drivers stay lingering on your computer, long after the device is gone. This is a good time to clean those out, and we have just the article on easily removing old drivers from Windows.

Did that work for you? No? Let’s go deeper then.

Disable Selective Suspend Feature

The USB Selective Suspend Feature is a power saving setting in Windows. What it does is suspend power being sent to a USB device, in order to save battery life of the computer. This is a good feature in theory, but on rare occasions the feature does not wake up the USB Device. If that’s the case, then it would appear that your port is dead. You can disable the USB Selective Suspend Feature through a registry key. It’s a good idea to do this on any computer that always has power to it, such as a server or desktop computer. You might not want to do this with your laptop, but if you do, you’ll be able to turn it on again easily.

To get to the Registry Editor, click on Start and then enter regedit in the Search box and hit your Enter key. The Registry Editor window will open. It looks like this, if you haven’t seen it before:


Navigate to the DisableSelectiveSuspend key by clicking on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, then SYSTEM, then CurrentControlSet, then services, then USB. Where it says DisableSelectiveSuspend in the right-hand window, right-click and click Modify. In the Value Data field enter the number 1. This will disable the selective suspend feature and power will go to your USB ports constantly.

If the USB key doesn’t exist in your registry, it’s easy to create it. Just navigate to the services key, and in the toolbar click on Edit > New > Key. Call it USB.


In the USB key, right-click in the right-hand window. You’ll only have the New option. Click on that and select DWORD (32-bit) Value. It may just be called DWORD Value on your system. Name the new value DisableSelectiveSuspend. Just like above, right-click and click Modify. In the Value Data field enter the number 1. There! You have disabled the selective suspend feature. You may need to restart your computer for the setting to be applied.

This is a good time to mention that if you ever feel the need to block your USB ports from working, there is a tool to help with that. It’s called USB Manager and we have a short article on how it works.

Is your dead USB port working now? No? Then you might well consider that the USB port is physically damaged.

Fix Damaged Hardware

If it’s still not working, it may very well be a hardware issue. USB ports are pretty fragile and USB Flash Drives can act as levers on them, wreaking havoc on the electrical connectors inside. This is seen very often in laptops, where the user will pack up the laptop and not disconnect the USB Flash Drive. It can usually be fixed. We have an excellent article on laptop repair that you can use as a starter on this project. Here’s a great video on exactly how to do so:

If you are handy with a soldering iron, you can dismantle your laptop and try to re-solder the connections. I only recommend this for people who have fairly extensive experience with soldering components on a circuit board. You could really mess things up if you’re not proficient at soldering. If this seems a little scary to do , you may want to take your computer to your local reputable computer repair shop. Not everyone is comfortable with soldering on a motherboard.

The Takeaway

There are several ways to try to repair your USB port. Hopefully, it’s just operating system or driver related as that’s the easiest and cheapest fix. Don’t dismay if it is a hardware problem – those can be fixed fairly simply and inexpensively too. The point is, it can be fixed.

Do you have any other troubleshooting tips for USB ports? Ever had to solder the USB port? Know of any software tools that would help in troubleshooting the USB port? We’d love to hear about it in the comments. The comments here are the only ones you should ever read on the Internet. Ever.

Image Sources: Asus Eee PC USB Ports via Flickr, Large Blank Tombstone via Clker.

Join live MakeUseOf Groups on Grouvi App Join live Groups on Grouvi
Windows Hacks & Customization
Windows Hacks & Customization
270 Members
230 Members
Best Windows Software
Best Windows Software
163 Members
Windows Troubleshooting
Windows Troubleshooting
153 Members
Windows Security
Windows Security
74 Members
Ads by Google
Comments (164)
  • Qamre Alam

    Unfortunate it doesn’t work for me….. but Thanks for your Guide….. There is lot of guys Who get solved.

  • Michael

    I had one USB 3.0 port not working, so uninstalled all USB Host Controllers as suggested and restarted, now none of them are working. Please help.

    Thanks in advance.


  • BD

    Thank you so much for the easy to follow instructions. Uninstall of the controllers, reboot fixed. 3 USB ports back in action.
    I was dead in the water without them working.


    • Guy McDowell

      You’re very welcome. Always makes my day when I can help someone out.

  • Julian

    Thank you! Brought my dead USB ports back to life using your tips, …was very worried would need replacing!! #obrigado

    • Guy McDowell

      Glad I could help. Sometimes it’s an easy fix, sometimes it’s not. It worked out this time.

  • Jim M.

    I just wanted to say thanks for the post and instructions. Easy to follow… the Disable Selective Suspend Feature worked for me. Second time this had happened… first time the disable/reenable was the fix. I am by no means a computer expert and I was able to follow along and execute your instructions pretty quickly. Thank you!!!!!!!!!

    • Jim M.

      And yes… this is a Windows 10 machine (out of the box). Machine is less than a year old.

    • Guy McDowell

      Thank you for letting me know I could help. I really do try to make my articles accessible without being dumbed-down.

Load 10 more
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
New comment

Please login to avoid entering captcha

Log In