front UBS ports won't work

September 15, 2007 at 06:52:34
Specs: Windows XPSP2, Sempron 3200+/512DDR2 Kin

I've had this machine for two months and it works ok, I'm still using a very low end, low quality case with 2 front usb ports. They had worked fine until yesterday when I tried to plug a samsung mp3 player, windows wouldn't recognize it, only when I plugged it on the back ports it worked fine. But nothing else I have plugged in the front ports has worked again (joystick/flash memory/printer/phone). Anyway I'm planing to replace the dreadful case but do you have any ideas I could try?

See More: front UBS ports wont work

Report •

September 15, 2007 at 07:43:01

Go to device manager and see if there are any issues (yellow or red exclamation marks) with any of the USB controllers.

Report •

September 15, 2007 at 08:23:38

Make sure the wiring from the front ports is still connected and intact.
If you've had to remove the front of the case, such as when installing an optical drive, and/or possibly because you needed to remove a front plate in a bay, it's common for you to unintentionally pull on the wiring to the mboard from the front ports and possibly pull them off on the mboard end or damage or break the wiring on the case front end.
You could try moving the female wiring connectors on the mboard header for the front USB ports up and down several times to possibly remedy a poor connection that has developed, but sometimes the wiring to those in cheap cases is not actually USB 2.0 compliant, and plugging in a USB 2.0 device may not result in it being recognized though it is recognized fine if plugged into a USB port built into the mboard edge, or when plugged into a wiring adapter plate in a slot on the back that came with the system or the mboard.

You don't necessarily need to get a new case.
- You could use a m/f usb extension cable from a rear port to the front externally if you have enough ports back there,
- Or if you don't have enough ports back there, if you have a spare slot space, you could get and use a usb 2.0 rated wiring adapter with two or four ports on a plate that installs in a slot space.
- Or if you're handy with and have a soldering iron, usually if you replace the cables that go to the front USB ports with similar shielded ones that have a larger gauge of individual wires, the ports will work fine for USB 2.0. Suitable cables may be found at local places that have a lot of electronically related pieces, or you could just buy a usb 2.0 rated wiring adapter/plate with ports in it and remove the cables from it and replace the ones to your front USB ports on the case.
If you do the latter, or if you get a usb 2.0 rated wiring adapter/plate to install in a slot, the type and wiring of female connectors and pinouts on the mboard for USB was never standardized - make sure the female connectors and their wiring are compatible with your mboard header pinouts. If the female connectors are on individual wires they will work on any mboard, but 4 or 5 in a row female connectors may not and can have several different wiring patterns.

You could also use an external USB 2.0 rated hub and connect it to a rear port, but hubs don't work with everything, even if they have an additional external power pack (are "powered" hubs) - e.g. commonly many printers and scanners won't work or won't work properly if connected to a port in a USB hub.

If you have more than two ports on the front of the case, you may actually have (a) USB(s) hub(s) that has(have) muliple ports connected to one port on the mboard, and not everything will work in those ports either.

Report •

September 15, 2007 at 14:12:57

In addition to what OntheHill suggested, even if there are no conflicts you might want to try updating the drivers under USB Enhanced Host Controller. I had the same problem with an MSI motherboard a few years ago. I read up on the problem on the internet and tried some things, but nothing worked. I even got new front ports for the case from Antec, but it didn't help. I finally just added a PCI card to get extra ports in the back. It might be hardware related, as tunesandwires mentioned, but it might also be a driver issue.

Report •

Related Solutions

September 15, 2007 at 14:21:02

That is OtheHill and Tubesandwires

Report •

September 15, 2007 at 14:34:37

Sorry about the misspellings.

Report •

September 15, 2007 at 19:07:18

I havent had any problems with USB drivers, but I have encountered inadequate case wiring several times.

There was one mboard I worked on that didn't get along with 5 in a row 5 wire female case wiring connectors - I was getting an error message - from the mboard bios?. I eventually found it worked fine on a two row ten position mboard header connector with 9 pins if I put the 5 wire connector on the 4 pin side so the second ground wasn't used, and the 4 position 4 wire connector on the 5 pin side so the last pin wasn't used (if both were 5 wire/5 position a wire would have to be cut when connected to the 5 pin side of the header).

Report •

September 19, 2007 at 10:43:56

Hi. Sorry for the delay, Thank you all for the help. I've had some time to check the problem in more depth on my machine, it can't be a wiring problem since I haven't opened the case for 1 month, everything works on the back ports (including the mp3 with which the problem started) I think that the sofware that came with it screwed my machine up (for example winamp, notepad and other aps stopped working) so I uninstalled the software and performed a system restore and now everything is fine... except the front usb's, when I plug anything windows reports device not recoignized or unknown device (I've tried many devices which run smoothly on back ports). Also for somem days the device manger reported unknown device under the USB category even there all the ports were physically empty! Finally I managed it to dissappear, I will try reinstalling the UBS related drivers and see what happens. I'll let you know, thanks.

Report •

September 19, 2007 at 11:01:48

Were the front ports both in use prior to this problem. The front ports could have been wired incorrectly but not caused a problem until connecting hardware to them. Look at the wiring for the front ports. verify it isn't pinched or frayed somewhere. When snapping the front bezel on the wires can become pinched. I can't see any software reason for Windows to think there is a device present when there isn't.

Report •

September 19, 2007 at 12:31:56

See response 2 regarding inadequate for USB 2.0, broken or damaged wiring to the front ports.
Make sure all the USB controllers are turned on in your bios Setup pages.

"Also for some days the device manger reported unknown device under the USB category even there all the ports were physically empty!"

That unknown device is probably not about any device you plugged in or an imaginary device - it's probably about the USB 2.0 controller(s).

If your XP CD does not have SP1 or SP2 updates built in (it's printed on the CD if it does) XP cannot recognize USB 2.0 controllers (and hard drive sizes larger than 128gb as seen in Windows) until you install at least SP1 updates. When those SP1 or SP2 updates haven't been installed yet, you will have an unknown USB device in Device Manager (for the USB 2.0 controller but it doesn't know what it is at that point), and the USB controller's USB 1.1 support will work fine, but there is no USB 2.0 support.

Also, even if you do have SP1 or SP2 updates included on your XP CD, whenever you install Windows from scratch, after Setup is finished you must load the drivers for the mboard, particularly the main chipset drivers, to makev sure that Windows has all the proper drivers for and information about your mboard - otherwise, aongst other things, Windows may not detect the USB 2.0 controllers are there.

Also take a look at the inside of the port on your front USB ports on the case front - if the plastic tab in the port is broken or missing, or it if any contacts are bent, whatever you plug in may not touch the contacts inside the port properly, and in that situation no USB device will be recognized in the affected port.

Report •

Ask Question