Repair USB

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Universal Serial Bus - USB repair

Universal Serial Bus with USB 3 you have a choice: Upgrade your motherboard or use an add on card.

USB - Universal Serial Bus - HubBack in the day (my son's favorite saying if it is over two years ago) computers came with a parallel and a serial port for connecting external devices (besides keyboard and video). Parallel was for the printer and a couple of specialized devices. Serial was for things like modems, EPROM burners, or sometimes a mouse.

Newer computers have Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports that replace both the Parallel and the Serial ports. The best of both worlds have all three. My laptop is brand new, no parallel, no serial, no mouse, or keyboard ports but it has three usb ports, and surprise one is on the front of the computer, amazing.

This is kind of ok, most devices are going usb anyway, but if you still have the old devices you will have to install a card with the appropriate port to utilize it.

So what does this mean to you? One thing is how many ports do you have? How many devices do you want to connect? Older devices were the old 1.1 standard, then 2.0, and now the new "Super Speed" 3.0. Do you want to be able to boot your system from your usb floppy or cd-rom, how about your flash drive?

USB - Universal Serial Bus information:

Lets look at the standards first.

USB 1.1 is the original ISO (International Standard Organization) for USB. The standard specifies how the usb protocol will be implemented and what is expected from devices utilizing the standard. The main factors here are the type of connector used on the computer and the device and the connection speed.

Note: the original specification did not have a provision to power the device down while the computer was powered up, to disconnect with out damaging the device or the computer you had to power every thing down.

2.0 is the first upgrade of the ISO standard, that specifies a faster speed for the device, adding a provision that the computer could turn the device off (power it down) before disconnecting, this also allowed for the user to connect the device while the computer was powered up. Very handy.

3.0 is the second upgrade of the ISO standard, with an increase in speed that approaches 10x of the speed 2.0 has, also increased voltage for devices that need up to 5 volts to operate. See this review of the USB 3 Super Speed

Connecting and Disconnecting USB Devices

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Most of the Universal Serial Bus 2.0 standard software is built into the drivers that are installed by the OS when it is installed (at this time USB 3.0 is not supported with embedded drivers in Operating Systems, that may change with the next set of Service Packs for Windows), although some devices have their own drivers when you purchase the product.

So the only time you have to worry about 1.1 version USB is when you connect the device and then want to disconnect it while the computer is powered up. Windows XP has an icon in the system try that looks like a arrow pointing down over a green card, this is the "Safely Remove Hardware" program. If you open it up any device that the OS can power down is listed here.

There are a couple of devices that will be listed here that are not usb devices, laptops will list a CD/DVD that is considered docked, some laptop PCMI cards will be listed. If you select a device and click on the "stop" button you will get a message that the device is safe to remove, but if it is a 1.1 standard it may not be powered down!

Other times you will get a message that the device can not be safely removed, there may be a file open on the device or the software is telling you it can not power down the device. Either way do not disconnect the device you could damage the device and or the computer. In this case you will have to power everything down to disconnect it.

If your ports have failed and they are embedded on the motherboard you have two choices:

  • Replace the motherboard
  • Install an USB add on card (cheapest).

Update 02/24/20 - Windows will not get the USB as a standard port during installation until Windows 8.1, the USB specification has been around for over two decades and two complete revisions of Windows, with out adding the USB to the installation media. If you were to install Windows 7 on a computer that uses a USB keyboard and mouse you have to figure out a way to get to the desktop once the OS installed, not an easy task. Those that work with computers daily use a technique called "slipstreaming" to put the USB drivers on a copy of the installation media for those computers that don't have the old PS/2 port(s) for the keyboard or mouse... Windows 8 and 10 now have USB drivers embedded with the installation files.

Trouble shooting devices: Universal Serial Bus page 2



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