Checking USB ports on a PC or Mac

Table of contents:

Checking USB ports on a PC or Mac
Checking USB ports on a PC or Mac
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This wikiHow teaches you how to troubleshoot USB ports on a Windows or Mac computer. There are a number of reasons why a USB port may stop working: a problem with the driver, hardware, or the USB device itself. After examining the USB ports on the computer, you can check Device Manager in Windows or try resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) or NVRAM on a Mac computer. NVRAM and PRAM is a special type of memory that stores certain firmware and device settings for your Mac -- resetting these settings can resolve potential USB problems.

Steps

Method 1 of 4: Examine the USB ports

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 1

Step 1. Look into the USB port

If you suspect a USB port isn't working, check the inside of the USB port to see if it has any dust, dirt, or objects stuck in it.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 2

Step 2. Connect multiple devices to the unresponsive port

If you find that a particular device is not working on a USB port, try other devices on that port to see if they work. If other devices work on the USB port, the problem is most likely the USB device, rather than the USB port.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 3

Step 3. Connect the devices to other USB ports

If a device doesn't work on a particular USB port, try another USB port. Possibly on another computer. If the device works on other USB ports, this indicates that there is probably a problem with the USB port.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 4

Step 4. Check if the USB port is loose

When plugging a device into an unresponsive USB port, gently wiggle the connection up and down to see if it's loose compared to other ports. Be careful not to cause additional damage. If the port is loose, it may be difficult for devices to connect.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 5

Step 5. Restart your computer

If you've gone through the troubleshooting steps and found that a USB port isn't responding, restart your computer. Restarting your computer refreshes the hardware and fixes many problems.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 6

Step 6. Plug the device back into the USB port

After restarting your computer, plug the device back into the USB port and see if the device works now. If the device doesn't work, you can use Device Manager again to check what's going on.

Method 2 of 4: Using Device Manager in Windows

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 7

Step 1. Click Windows Start

Windowsstart

The Windows Start menu opens. By default, the Windows Start menu is located at the bottom left of the screen. It's in the taskbar.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 8

Step 2. Type devmgmt.msc

Searches for Device Manager in the Start menu.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 9

Step 3. Click on Device Manager

It's next to an icon that looks like a printer.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 10

Step 4. Click on the name of your computer

Normally, your computer's name is at the top of the list. Click on the name to highlight it.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 11

Step 5. Click on the 'Scan for hardware changes' icon

It's the icon that resembles a computer screen at the top of the Device Manager. It says 'Search for hardware changes' when you hover over it. This forces your computer to check all hardware. Hopefully it detects the USB port that is not responding.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 12

Step 6. Connect a device to the USB port

After scanning for hardware changes in Device Manager, plug a USB device into the unresponsive USB port to see if it works. If so, nothing further needs to be done. If the port still doesn't work, you can remove the USB controller in Device Manager.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 13

Step 7. Double click on Universal Serial Bus controllers in Device Manager

You may have to scroll down quite a bit to get to 'Universal Serial Bus Controllers'. Double clicking will show all USB devices and drivers.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 14

Step 8. Right click on a USB controller

This is located under 'Universal Serial Bus controllers'. The name of the device may be different, but the keyword to search is 'controller'. If you right click on it, a menu will appear.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 15

Step 9. Click Remove Device

This option is in the menu when you right-click on a device in Device Manager. This will remove the USB controller. Repeat for all other USB controllers listed under “Universal Serial Bus Controllers.”

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 16

Step 10. Restart your computer

After you remove the USB controllers, restart your computer to allow Windows to scan for any hardware changes and reinstall the USB controllers you removed.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 17

Step 11. Connect a device to the USB port

After restarting your computer, check if the USB port is working by connecting a device to it. If the device works, then the USB port is restored. If the USB port still does not work, there is probably a hardware problem with the USB port. This should be resolved by a professional.

Method 3 of 4: Resetting the System Management Controller on a Mac

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 18

Step #1. Turn off the Mac

To shut down a Mac, click the Apple icon in the top right corner and click Shut Down.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 19

Step 2. Reset the SMC

The way you reset the SMC depends on the model of the Mac:

  • MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air: Hold down ⇧ Shift+Control+⌥ Option+Power until the light on the power adapter blinks or changes color.
  • iMac, iMac Pro and Mac Mini: Disconnect the power adapter, press and hold the power button for about five seconds or more, and then reconnect the power adapter.
Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 20

Step 3. Press the power button

This will turn your Mac back on with the SMC reset.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 21

Step 4. Connect a device to the USB port

After resetting the system management controller, verify that the USB port is working by connecting a device to it. If the device works, the USB port is restored. If the device does not work, you can try resetting the NVRAM or PRAM.

Method 4 of 4: Reset NVRAM & PRAM on a Mac

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 22

Step 1. Turn off the Mac

To shut down your Mac, click the Apple icon in the top right corner and click Shut Down.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 23

Step 2. Press the power button

This will restart your Mac.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 24

Step 3. Right after that, hold down ⌘ Command+⌥ Option+P+R

Press and hold these keys as soon as your Mac starts up and hold them until you hear a sound and the screen flashes. After that, the Mac boots up as usual.

Check USB Ports on PC or Mac Step 25

Step 4. Connect a device to the USB port

After resetting the system management controller, verify that the USB port is working by connecting a device to it. If the device works, the USB port is restored. If the USB port does not work after resetting the SMC and NVRAM, then there is probably a hardware problem with the USB port. This will need to be resolved by a professional.

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