I have a Toshiba Canvio 3.0 external HDD. It has USB 3.0. It flashes blue if you connect it to a USB 3.0 port. If it is a 2.0 port, the light becomes white.

Yesterday, I plugged it in and the light was blue. Now, I plugged it in the same port and the light is white.

Can I somehow detect if the USB port I just plugged in is 2.0 or 3.0? I want to know if there is a problem with the device or the USB port I'm using.

Edit: I'm using Windows 8.1

  • In general? Or specific to your drive?
    – mdpc
    May 20, 2014 at 18:06
  • When I plug it in to my laptop, the light is blue agan (3.0) but my laptop has SSD
    – padawan
    May 20, 2014 at 18:07
  • Which light? on what device? Is your question seeking information on the laptop or the SDD? or something in general?
    – mdpc
    May 20, 2014 at 18:09
  • I was wondering why my external hard drive wasn't working with superspeed. I think my 3.0 USB ports are recognized as 2.0 by my computer or there is something wrong with the bus.
    – padawan
    May 20, 2014 at 18:15
  • The only possible way the same port would result in two different behaviors is if you used two different cables. USB 3.0 cable plugged into a USB 3.0 will always be USB 3.0.
    – Ramhound
    May 20, 2014 at 18:31

6 Answers 6


To check whether the USB device itself is USB 2.0 or 3.0, use USB Device Tree Viewer (on a computer). Then disconnect all your USB devices on the computer, and reconnect the USB in question. You'll see it appear on the sidebar on the left. Click it. On the right, scroll down about 1/4 of the page. In the section 'Connection Information', look at the Device Bus speed. These are what you should be looking for:

USB 2: Device Bus Speed : 0x02 (High-Speed)

USB 3: Device Bus Speed : 0x03 (Super-Speed)

Another way:

  1. Open the Charms Bar by dragging the cursor to top right of the screen or by pressing Win + C. 2. Select Settings and then Change PC settings.
  2. Select the Devices under PC settings application.

As mdpc said, the device you plug the USB device into should have different signs or colours to show if the actual ports are USB 2 or 3:

USB 2:

enter image description here enter image description here

USB 3 (the sign on the left image says 'SS' and the usb sign. SS = SuperSpeed as said above):

enter image description here enter image description here

There are many more methods. Check Microsoft's website for info on the different signs you can see.

  • 1
    Usb Viewer is part of the Windows SDK debugging tools now.
    – js2010
    Apr 12, 2021 at 19:24
  • usb device tree viewer is perhaps the most informative and user friendly tool that i have seen. it provides all details with great accuracy Dec 4, 2022 at 17:09

Sometimes, if you plug the USB3.0 device too slowly, it is recognized as 2.0.

Why ? Because the 3.0 line of pins is in a second row so if the protocol handshake is finished before your device is fully plugged in, it will never get USB3.0 speed.

This is particulary annoying when using USB keys like the Extrem series from sandisk as the plug is on springs and is frequently diving too slowly into the port. If you own this specific model, be carefull to not touch or press the retractor button while inserting it. If you touch it, the USB plug will be on springs. If you don't touch the button at all, the USB plug will insert correctly.

  • 1
    Good to know! I have a USB 3.0 device in a USB 3.0 port, sometimes when plug it in I get a warning that that device should be faster if I use a USB 3.0 port, now I know why.
    – 244an
    Feb 23, 2018 at 2:09

I understand that the USB standard indicates that the USB 3 port will have a blue color plastic tab inside the plugin.

  • It has a blue plastic. But the device does not recognize that it is 3.0. Can I do something about this?
    – padawan
    May 20, 2014 at 18:09
  • 3
    My HP EliteBook has black plastic but "SS" next to the USB symbols. Nov 24, 2015 at 17:04
  • 2
    Not all will have the blue plastic, unfortunately. Often they all look the same.
    – SDsolar
    Aug 1, 2017 at 2:01

I am not a fan of posting commercial crap, but I was looking for the fast and easy way out, and you are probably also :)

I found a tool called USBDeview which can be downloaded free and will give u extensive information on all your USB ports (including exact version). As far as I can see the version column shows the version of the port and not the attached device (I know for a fact I put in a USB 3.0 stick, and it is showing version 2, so it is my computers port, which is quite likely 2.0 ) :)

My virus scan did not report any probs, and it doesn't require any install, just a simple exe. Here's a download link. http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/usb_devices_view.html

  • 5
    Since the tool is free, it isn't really "commercial crap". nirsoft's free Windows driver-related tools are very well regarded in the driver dev community. Don't worry about them. May 3, 2015 at 20:29
  • 2
    To be precise, this tool gives information on your USB devices. The version column is the version which is used to communicate between the device and the host. If you have a USB 3 port, but USB 2 device or cable, it will display 2.00. Aug 20, 2015 at 12:17
  • 1
    It's the column USB Version that shows the actual USB connection. I tried it with the answer from @fiduce with a USB 3.0 port and a USB 3.0 device and it shows 3.00 when I plug it in normally, and 2.00 if I plug it in slowly.
    – 244an
    Feb 23, 2018 at 1:39
  • Just look at ports and plugs and if they are blue then it is USB3.
  • USB 3.0 plugs with 5 additional pins (9 in total) to get Super Speed.
    enter image description here enter image description here
  • This isn't really the issue in this question (known USB 3.0 port acting like a 2.0 port), and the blue plastic has already been addressed in the top two answers.
    – fixer1234
    Aug 17, 2015 at 6:20
  • 1
    +1 for answering the title and teaching me about the extra pins. My laptop has black ports and denotes USB 3 with "SS" next to the USB symbols. Nov 24, 2015 at 17:07
  • Great info about the pins. Thank you. Colors can't be counted on but the pins definitely are different in the plugs.
    – SDsolar
    Aug 1, 2017 at 2:03
  • Those are plugs, not ports. Consider rewriting?
    – Mathieu K.
    Nov 2, 2018 at 1:46

Many computer manufacturers do not clearly mark USB port versions. Use the Device Manager to determine if your computer has USB 1.1, 2.0, or 3.0 ports:

Open the Device Manager.
In the "Device Manager" window, click the + (plus sign) next to Universal Serial Bus controllers. You will see a list of the USB ports installed on your computer.
    If your USB port name contains "Universal Host", your port is version 1.1.
    If the port name contains both "Universal Host" and "Enhanced Host", your port is version 2.0.
    If the port name contains "USB 3.0", your port is version 3.0.

This is document aout in the Knowledge Base.

  • Or go to Devices and Printers, click on the computer and select the Hardware tab. If your computer has USB 3.0 it should be listed. And you sure are right that they aren't often clearly marked.
    – SDsolar
    Aug 1, 2017 at 2:06

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