USB ports, we use them daily plugging in phones hard drives to the computer.
They always work. All the time
What do you do when you plug in your hard drive and you realize the USB port is not working.
Happened to me on one of the Dell Inspiron 3521 laptops I was using. I have also had people come for repairs a couple of times with just that issue.
The good thing is most of the time its an easy fix.
A software glitch, corrupted drivers, Widows update messing up causing USB ports not to work.
How do I fix my USB ports on my Dell laptop?
I got a couple of fixes for you which I have used to get the USB ports working again you can try. I added some also that I came across as I researched on the problem which I thought would be helpful.
The methods below work for all models XPS, latitude laptops and desktop computers.
Oh wait, did you try turning it on and off. Just kidding but am not.
That’s how how I fix a dozen computers a month. If you haven’t tried that please do it might just be the solution your head ache
Next lets check if the USB ports are receiving power. Plug in a phone and if it charges good news the ports are receiving power.
If not lets proceed to the next step
First lets check whats going on in device manager. When there is hardware problem, the first place to check is if there are any issues in Device Manager. If there is an issue you will see yellow symbol with an exclamation mark or question mark on the devices listed.
If that’s the case the issue is with the drivers
To go to Device Manager:
- Click on this PC
- Then right click on an empty space and select Properties
- On the top left of your screen click on Device Manager
- You should then have a window like the one below
- At the bottom of the list that appears click to expand on Serial Bus Controllers
- Right click and uninstall all device on all the devices under Serial Bus Controllers
- Now restart the computer
We just uninstalled the drivers to the USB devices, when windows restarts it re installs the drivers back.
This fixes bad or corrupt drivers.
If the USB port are still not working try downloading and updating BIOS and Chipset drivers first
Update BIOS or UEFI
The BIOS or UEFI as outlined here on this article on updating BIOS is the bridge between software and hardware. If its not functioning properly it affects other devices.
Hence its important to make sure its up to date and compatible with your computer’s hardware.
Now first lets go download the latest BIOS drivers from the Dell website. Connect to WIFI if your Ethernet is also not working. On the dell website click on select drivers and support.
Next enter your service tag. The service tag will make sure we download drivers for the right computer. Installing the the wrong BIOS on you computer can damage it.
Next select you operating system and look for or search for BIOS. Click on the newest version to download.
Once downloaded make sure the computer is connected to power. Then double click on the downloaded and follow the installation wizard. For a more in-depth guide on updating BIOS read the is guide
Once successfully installed. Reboot the computer and check if the USB are not working.
Install all Chipset Drivers
Other essential drivers which enable the communication between software and hardware are the chipset drivers.
You can find the correct ones for your computer on the dell website.
The same way we did with the BIOS drivers. Head over to the dell website enter your service tag number select your operating system, windows 7 or windows 10 and look for chipset drivers.
There are multiple chipset drivers, just download and install all of them.
Turn off the computer and turn it on again.
Check if the USB ports are not working
As mentioned above USB drivers come with the Operating System. However windows might also be the culprit as in this instance reported by slashgear where multiple users reported USB port malfunction after windows update.
With such occurrence Microsoft is usually swift to release another update patch to fix such issues.
What you need to do then is update to the latest version of windows.
- Go to setting settings
- update and recovery
- and select check for updates
- Download and install available updates
Windows Power Management
To conserve power windows may switch of some hardware devices. If your computer is set to turn of hardware devices that are not in use, it can also switch off power to the USB ports and not supply power when a USB device is inserted.
You can check and disable the option in power management.
- Press windows and R key on your computers keyboard
- on the run dialogue box that appears enter “devmgmt.msc” without the quotes and then press enter
- Go down to the Universal Serial Bus Controller and click to expand
- On the USB Root HUB right click and select properties
- Then click on Power Management tab
- Uncheck the box that say allow windows to windows to turn on this device to save power
- and select apply
- Repeat for all devices under Universal serial bus controller.
- Now restart you computer.
Window hardware Troubleshooter
Now lets not forget the old computer Sherlock Holmes method, windows hardware troubleshooter. Windows can also diagnose and fix hardware issues.
To start windows Hardware Troubleshooter.
Press start and search for Troubleshoot Settings. Then select the relevant hardware.
Another option is to use the Microsoft easy fix file. Download the Microsoft easy fix diagcab file
Run it and follow the instructions that come up
If the ports are still not functioning here are some of things you can check and try
- Boot you computer in safe mode
- Check if the ports are not physically damaged
- Check for stuff blocking USB ports, are you able to see the terminals
- Run dell diagnostics to check for hardware issues
- Reset BIOS
- Drain flea power
- As a last resort perform as system restore
Is there a solution I missed. Help the next person by telling them here in the comment sections.