My laptop (model "Dell Inspiron N5110") has four USB ports. Two of them work. Two of them don't.

The two ports that don't work have blue interior contact surfaces, instead of black/grey. A quick web search for "blue usb port" reveals that these might be USB 3.0 ports, and the other two USB 2.0. However, the method outlined here indicates I've only got 2.0, so colour me confused.

I've been trying various fixes for quite a while, without much success:

  • Every setting in the BIOS that could possibly be enabled is enabled (except some anti-theft thing, but I don't think that's relevant).
  • I've (re?)installed the "USB 3.0" drivers from Dell's downloads page. No dice.
  • This answer suggests finding "Unknown Device"s in Device Manager and installing drivers for them. I don't have any unknown devices displayed, so I can't do that.

I would quite like to be able to use all four USB ports; troubleshooting assistance would be appreciated.

  • Is it entirely possible these ports never worked you shouldn't have to "install" USB drivers Windows does that on its own – Ramhound Jan 28 '14 at 6:40
  • @Ramhound I have faint memories of them working long, long ago. (Which just makes everything weirder.) – michaelb958 Jan 28 '14 at 6:44
  • Sounds like a hardware failure. Best advice make sure the headers are attached not an easy task though – Ramhound Jan 28 '14 at 6:44
  • Does the USB 3.0 host controller appear in the Device Manager at all? Look for anything with Renesas Electronics USB 3.0 in its name. – and31415 Jan 28 '14 at 10:42
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Here is a simple way to resolve the age-old question: Is it a Windows problem, or is it bad hardware? By testing the hardware with Linux, you will quickly be able to eliminate or verify the hardware as the root of the problem.

Boot your system with Linux on a USB flash drive; I prefer Puppy Linux for this, because it will run completely in RAM, saving you time and energy when diagnosing hardware problems. If the system won't boot with Puppy (not all systems will work with it), try booting with Ubuntu instead; I prefer 10.04.4 for hardware testing, because it uses Gnome instead of the vomit-inducing Unity interface.

If the USB ports work under Linux, you'll know that the hardware is good and the problem must lie within Windows itself. If the USB ports don't work under Linux at all, you'll know the controller chip for those ports must be defective.

If you don't know how to make a bootable USB flash drive with Linux, check out pendrivelinux dot com and learn some new skills.

Best of luck with this; hope this helps you.

  • Why didn't I think of that?! Especially considering I already have a Live CD... I'll try it. – michaelb958 Jan 30 '14 at 8:10
  • Well, I booted from the Live CD, and the ports didn't work. Looks like this is a hardware problem. – michaelb958 Jan 31 '14 at 11:57
  • 1
    While this doesn't completely rule out a software configuration problem, it does point the finger at something outside the OS (perhaps BIOS/UEFI settings) and hardware is a prime suspect – Ben Voigt Dec 29 '15 at 0:50

One odd thing that has been known to work... reset the BIOS setting to default, from the BIOS setup. It sounds dumb, but that has fixed numerous issues with laptops I've used. (eg. one OS turns off a device, that another OS then cannot turn back on.)

  • This failed to resolve the issue, unfortunately. – michaelb958 Jan 28 '14 at 9:40

Try updating your system's BIOS and chipset drivers.

There are additional troubleshooting instructions here.

  • Updated BIOS from A09 to A11, chipset update did nothing (I think I already had a newer version). The thread advises me to try removing the USB root hubs in Device Manager; I'm going to try that. – michaelb958 Jan 28 '14 at 7:21
  • Removing the root hubs didn't work. Sorry, no luck. – michaelb958 Jan 28 '14 at 8:57

Do you have any idea did you install/uninstall any software or Have you re-installed the Operating System? It seems like either hardware issue/driver issue. I would suggest you to scan for any missing driver.

You can try to uninstall the driver from device manager and update the driver with latest version. You can try to plug in your mobile data cable and see mobile is charging or not. Because sometimes USB drive having hardware issue mainly with power supply.

Hope this helps.

I have the same problem. The solution maybe a little bit strange but it works for me.

Control Panel -> Device Manager -> Mice and Other Pointing Devices -> Dell Touchpad -> Update the Driver.

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