|"....but still the usb ports haven't worked except printer one."|
"One anomaly is that I decided to download the driver again for the printer which also uses a usb port and that was succesful."
In retrospect, that indicates the same thing in a roundabout way - the printer works with the USB port it's plugged into.
The USB controllers / USB ports either work or they don't work.
If the printer works when plugged into a USB port, the USB controller for that port is working fine.
There is usually at least TWO USB ports that connect to the same USB controller, and it's likely the other USB port(s) connected to at least that USB controller the printer works with work(s) fine.
"the other usb ports are needed for an external hard drive (no driver) and a usb thumb key (no driver). "
USB external hard drives and USB flash drives (thumb drives, USB "sticks", etc.) DO NOT require third party drivers - they use generic drivers that are built into Windows.
Do you have a USB mouse and/or USB keyboard ?
If YES, try that / those in all USB ports - if it / they work(s) fine, there is NOTHING wrong with your USB controllers ! You have a problem with your USB external drive and/or your USB flash drive !
OR - unplug the printer's USB cable and try it in each of the other USB ports - if the printer is recognized / works fine with a USB port, you have a problem with your USB external drive and/or your USB flash drive !
" As for the usb port burning out I have six. 2 in front and 4 at rear."
Compaq Presarios can be either a desktop computer or a laptop computer.
Apparently yours is a mini tower desktop computer.
- all external hard drives (and external optical drives) require that the USB port they are connected to can actually supply 500ma of current. Sometimes the wiring between the front USB ports and the USB header on the mboard is inadequate, and can't actually supply 500ma of current, but all the USB ports on the back of the computer that are built into the mboard should be able to supply 500ma each.
However, in rare cases with a desktop computer, sometimes 500ma is only available per TWO USB ports on the back of the computer, and an external hard drive (or external optical drive) will only be able to get 500ma from one of the USB ports if there is no device plugged into the other USB port of the pair.
On the back of the computer, the pairs of USB ports connected to the same USB controller are one above the other.
-- you can damage the data and lose access to that data on an external hard drive or a flash drive if you DID NOT click on the Safely Remove Hardware icon in your taskbar and choose to STOP accessing the drive BEFORE you unplugged it while Windows was running ! That is a VERY common problem !
That data damage can usually be fixed by using a program that can fix the data damage.
NOTE that if you DID damage the data on the external hard drive and/or flash drive, the data on the drive WILL NOT be recognized properly when you plug it into ANY computer's USB port !
Also, if you have cards in PCI slots on the mboard, rarely, you may have an IRQ sharing problem you need to fix.
Troubleshooting USB device problems including for flash drives, external drives, memory cards.
See Response 1: