There are several ways to connect devices such as printers, digital cameras and MP3 players to your computer. The most common is the universal serial bus (USB) connector.
USB devices are designed to just plug straight into a computer and work without needing any configuration.
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Sometimes, however, a USB device doesn’t work as expected – from the device not showing up to it not getting enough power from the USB port to even power up.
USB device is not working
If your computer is having problems with a recently installed device, run the Hardware and Device troubleshooter in Windows 7 to see if it can automatically fix the problem.
- Click the Start button and in the search box, type ‘troubleshooting‘. From the list of results, click Troubleshooting.
- In the Hardware and Sound section, click Configure a device.
- Follow the instructions on screen to see if that solves the problem.
Missing device driver
All USB devices need a driver – a small piece of software that allows it to communicate with your computer. In most cases, when you plug in a USB device, Windows will automatically find and install the latest device driver. If that’s not possible, you’ll need to install it manually.
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- Updated drivers are often available through Windows Update. Click the Start button and in the search box, type ‘update‘. From the list of results, click Windows Update.
- In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your computer.
Fix USB port problems
If your device doesn’t work, there may be a problem with your computer’s USB port. Although a rare event, USB ports can become defective. Alternatively, as some devices such as portable hard drives require power from the USB port to run, the port may be unable to draw enough power from the computer. Try connecting the device to another USB port on your PC and unplug all other devices to ensure the device you want to use can draw the maximum amount of power through the USB port.
Solve USB port compatibility
Some high-speed devices such as external hard disks and camcorders may use a USB 3.0 connection, which offers transfer speeds up to ten times faster than USB 2.0. Although USB 3.0 devices can be used in USB 2.0 ports, for optimum performance, plug the device into your computer’s USB 3.0 port. Look for the USB 3.0 symbol on both the computer port and device cable.
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Some USB 3.0 devices also use a blue cable, with blue tabs in the connectors at the ends of the cable that match similar coloured tabs in the computer’s ports.
Troubleshoot USB problems
If an older USB device doesn’t work properly when plugged into a USB 3.0 port, try connecting the device to a USB 2.0 port instead.