My son's laptop has taken alot of pain in his school over the last few months and he and his buddies have succeeded in breaking both USB ports. I've opened the box, unsoldered the USB ports, replaced them by new components but no joy - the ports seem dead.

If I assume that the insertion of LEGO pieces, etc. in USB ports has rendered them unsalvageable, do I have any other options for restoring USB access to the laptop? The laptop has an ethernet port, a HDMI port and an SD/MMC port. I've trawled the web for a magic adadpter, i.e; ethernet=>USB, HDMI=>USB or SD/MMC=>USB but to no avail. Lots of options for going the other way though.

Does anyone have any ideas on the feasibility of an ethernet=>USB cable? Ethernet doesn't seem to have +5V or GND so I can run a cable from the motherboard that could provide those.

Amazing how many functions of a laptop just disappear when you have no USB ports.

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    You haven't said which model laptop it is so it's hard to say. If it has an ExpressCard slot then you might be in luck, otherwise I'm not sure there's much you can do, other than try to get the USB ports fixed. What do you need the USB ports for specifically? It may be possible to workaround the issue. – James P Jun 3 '14 at 15:13
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    So you are saying you arent supposed to stick Legos in USB ports? – Keltari Jun 3 '14 at 15:16
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    Also, you can try looking for internal USB lanes (usually built-in camera is essentially just permanently wired USB camera, sometimes media card reader uses it as well, sometimes it's used/shared by the wireless adapter). – qdot Jun 3 '14 at 15:16
  • None of the standards you list can be converted to become a USB host devices. Of course ( SD/MMC and Ethernet ) devices can be USB devices. – Ramhound Jun 3 '14 at 15:40
  • If you have replaced the physical USB ports, it is likely not the cause of the problem. Have you considered it might be the OS? I would say either that or the USB controller is fried. – some user Aug 26 '16 at 6:29

Ah kids, gotta love them. I don't think there is a shortcut here, that is, a magical dongle that makes your SD slot (say) look like a USB socket that you can then plug things into. It is possible to use IP to connect to a remote device's USB ports however, see the USB IP project for example.

From a debugging perspective, you might also validate that power is flowing to the existing USB ports as per the specs, eg using a multimeter. Foreign objects should bork the port but not the circuitry, so if a replaced port is not working something else may be going on. (Alternative: boot from a Linux LiveCD and see what it thinks is going on with the ports)

As far as kid proofing the laptop goes, well good luck with that :) A colleague swears by the Lindy USB lock that you can get on Amazon - it closes the port with a tiny device that you need a special tool to open. So that might be one option. Or (cheaper?) buy your kid a lego shaped usb drive and tell him to keep it in the slot at all times! Then he/she gets more storage and you've sidelined the whole does-Lego-fit thing.

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