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  • USB Peripheral Troubleshooting
Technology Articles > Computers > Peripherals > USB Peripheral Troubleshooting

Most USB peripherals—such as USB mouses, USB keyboards, USB soundcards, USB microphones, USB headsets, USB printers, USB webcams and other—are plug and play. That is, you simply plug them into your computer, wait for Windows or Mac OS to detect it and automatically install the drivers and then you’re ready to go. But occasionally, your USB peripheral may fail to function properly, or it may not function at all. Follow these USB peripheral troubleshooting steps if you’re having difficulty getting your USB peripherals working.

First, try the obvious: unplug the USB device and plug it back in. Wait five minute and see if the USB peripheral installs correctly this time. Next, try rebooting your computer and trying again. These steps may seem elementary, but if you call in to technical support, these are the first steps the technician will ask you to do. Oftentimes, this fixes the issue.

If your USB peripheral came with a disc or other software, try installing before reconnecting your USB device. Also, run Windows Live Update to ensure that your operating systems are up to date.

Also, make sure that you have the right USB cables. There are three types of USB protocols: USB 1.1., USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. While USB devices are backwards compatible, you won’t be able to use a USB 1.1. device with a USB 3.0 cable.

If this does not help, make sure that your USB device is plugged in and click Start and right-click Computer and click Device Manager. Scroll down to Universal Serial Bus Controller and click the error to expand it. Look for any devices that have a red X next to it. If you find one, right-click it and choose Enable. If there is a yellow circle, double-click the item and look for an error message in the General tab. Reference this when contacting technical support.

Many USB peripherals have trouble functioning if they are attached to a USB hub. This is because some USB peripherals require power from the USB connection. When you use a USB hub, it causes the power from your computers USB port to be divided among all the connected devices. Try disconnecting your USB peripheral from the USB hub and plugging it directly into your computer. If this fixes the problem, then you’ll need to use your USB peripheral with it connected directly computer or invest in a powered USB hub.

If all or some of your USB peripherals attached to your computer are malfunctioning, it may be caused by one USB device disrupting the others. Disconnect all of your USB devices and then reconnect them one at a time. This will help you identify which USB device is causing the issue.

If none of the above solutions work, try running the Microsoft Fix It program that automatically detects and fixes common problems. You can find it here: