Tips for solving problems with USB devices

Here are solutions to some common problems with universal serial bus (USB) devices, including installation problems.

You can also try running a troubleshooter to diagnose and fix common problems with hardware and devices.

To run a hardware and devices troubleshooter

  1. Click this button:

    Picture of a Fix it button
    Fix this problem

  2. In the File Download dialog box, click Run, and then follow the steps in the wizard.

For information about connecting a new USB device to your computer, see Install a USB device.

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My USB device is not working.

USB devices are Plug and Play devices, so there is little that you can do to control or configure them. Windows usually detects devices when they're plugged in and, if necessary, installs drivers.

If your USB does not work after you plug it in, it’s probably because of one of the following causes:

  • Windows can’t find a driver for the USB device. When hardware attached to a computer doesn't work properly, it's often because of a driver problem. When you plug in a USB device, Windows automatically identifies the device and searches for a driver.

    In most cases, Windows already has the necessary driver installed or can automatically download it from Windows Update. If Windows installs a device driver automatically, you'll see a notification indicating the device is ready to use.

    If Windows can't find the driver you need, it will prompt you to insert the disc containing the driver that came with your device.

    Occasionally you might have a USB device that did not come with a disc containing a driver and for which Windows cannot find a driver. In this case, you can look for a driver on the device manufacturer's website. You can often download drivers from the support section of such sites. If you are unable to find a driver there, try contacting the manufacturer.

    If you are unsure of how to contact the manufacturer, go to the Microsoft Help and Support webpage for a list of contact information for most hardware vendors.

    Note

    • All of your drivers must be compatible with this version of Windows. Don’t download drivers that are listed as compatible with a different version.

  • Windows doesn't recognize the USB device. Before Windows can find and install a driver for your USB device, it must be able to correctly identify the device.

    Occasionally you might have a USB device that Windows doesn't recognize and that did not come with a disc containing a driver. In this case, you can look for a driver on the device manufacturer's website. You can often download drivers from the support section of such sites. If you are unable to find a driver there, try contacting the manufacturer.

    If you are unsure of how to contact the manufacturer, go to the Microsoft Help and Support webpage for a list of contact information for most hardware vendors.

    After you find a driver for a device that Windows cannot identify, you will have to install the driver manually. For information about manually installing a driver, see Repair or update a driver.

    Note

    • All of your drivers must be compatible with this version of Windows. Don’t download drivers that are listed as compatible with a different version.

  • There's a problem with the device. If you have another computer that is working correctly, plug the device into that computer to see if you encounter the same issue. If you have the same problem, there might be a problem with the device.

    If you believe your device is faulty, contact the manufacturer.

    You can also check the status of your device in Windows.

    To check the status of a device

    You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps.

    1. Open Device Manager by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Device Manager. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    2. Double-click the appropriate device category, and then look for an entry for the device you are having a problem with.

    3. Right-click the entry for your USB device, and then click Properties.

    4. Click the General tab, and then look in the Device status box to see if it mentions any problems with the device—specifically, a problem with the driver.

    If you suspect that a driver you received from the manufacturer is faulty, contact the manufacturer.

  • The driver for the device is faulty. Occasionally a manufacturer might release a faulty driver for one of its devices.

    If you have a device that is not working properly, it can be difficult to tell whether the problem is with the device itself or the driver for the device.

    If a device works fine but then fails after you update its driver, the problem is with the new driver. Roll back to the previously installed driver. For instructions, see Restore a driver to its previous version.

    If you are installing a device for the first time, you can’t roll back its driver, because there is no previously installed driver. But you can try to determine if the driver is faulty.

    To check if a driver is faulty

    You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps.

    1. Open Device Manager by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Device Manager. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    2. Double-click the appropriate device category, and then look for an entry for the device you are having a problem with.

    3. Right-click the entry for your USB device, and then click Properties.

    4. Click the General tab, and then look in the Device status box to see if it mentions any problems with the device—specifically, a problem with the driver.

    If you suspect that a driver you received from the manufacturer is faulty, contact the manufacturer.

  • The USB port is defective. If you connect a USB device to a defective port, the device will not work. Try plugging the device into a different port. If all USB ports are in use, unplug one of the other devices, and plug the problematic device into that port.

    If the device is plugged into a secondary USB hub instead of directly into a USB port on your computer, unplug the device from the hub, and then plug the device directly into a port on your computer.

  • The device isn't getting enough power. USB hubs do not always supply enough power for some devices. The device you are trying to use might require all the available power or bandwidth that your computer can provide. If the device is plugged into a USB hub and not directly into a USB port on your computer, connect the device directly into a USB port on your computer.

    You can also leave the device plugged into the USB hub, and unplug other devices in the hub to see if your device works. If this solves the problem, you might want to obtain a USB hub with its own power supply so that you have adequate power for all devices plugged into that hub.

I get a message that a "Hi-speed USB device is plugged into non-hi-speed USB hub."

Many USB devices, such as external hard drives and media players, require a high speed USB 2.0 connection to function properly.

How can I tell if my computer has a USB 2.0 port?

Many USB devices, such as external hard drives and media players, require a connection to your computer using a USB 2.0 port. USB 2.0 is faster than previous versions, which makes large volume file transfers possible.

To determine if your computer has a USB 2.0 port

You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps.

  1. Open Device Manager by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Device Manager. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. Double-click Universal Serial Bus controllers.

  3. If the word Enhanced is included in any of the listed controllers, your computer has USB 2.0 controller drivers installed.

My USB 2.0 ports don't appear to be working.

If your high-speed USB 2.0 ports don't work, you might not have the correct driver installed for the ports in your computer, or the ports might be defective. If you are using an external USB hub plugged into your computer, this might also be defective or lack the proper drivers. Check Device Manager to see if your USB ports or hubs are working properly.

  1. Open Device Manager by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Device Manager. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. Double-click Universal Serial Bus controllers and check to see if all your USB ports, hubs, and controllers are functioning correctly. Any devices not functioning will have a yellow exclamation mark in front of them.

  3. If Device Manager shows any USB ports, hubs, or controllers are not functioning, check for updated drivers. For more information, see Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly.

I get a "Bandwidth Exceeded" message.

If you have a USB video camera connected to your computer and you receive a "Bandwidth Exceeded" message, try lowering the camera resolution in the program that you are using to view the video stream. A lower resolution setting typically requires less bandwidth. For information about how to adjust this setting, check the information for the program that you are using to view the video stream.

When I plug in a device, AutoPlay automatically opens a program I don’t want to use.

Follow these steps:

  1. Open AutoPlay by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking AutoPlay.

  2. To never see the AutoPlay dialog box, select Take no action next to the device or disc. To choose an action each time you plug in a device or insert a disc, select Ask me every time. To have a program open automatically each time, select the program.