Help Connecting External Devices to PC

Hi all. I’ve got a normal PC running Windows XP and I’m having trouble linking it up to external devices. Every time I try, with any device, be it a USB, an mp3 player, a Kindle, or whatever, my computer just totally locks up. The screen freezes and the mouse and keyboard become totally inoperative. The only thing I can do is unplug the device and restart the PC. Do any computer literate dopers have any light to shed on this mystery?

Thanks in advance.

P.S. - You could transcribe the sum total of my computer knowledge onto the back of a postage stamp in bold 18pt Comic Sans font with double line spacing and still have enough room to spare to stick in at least one Gospel, so please keep it simple. Thanks :slight_smile:

Does this only happen with USB devices?
Do your mouse and keyboard use the USB ports or PS/2 connectors?

My first suggestion is to update your drivers if you haven’t done that in a while. Click on that little nagging bubble that says you have important updates and download/install all the important updates.

My second thought is that it’s overheating. If you’ve had the computer for more then a few years and never cleaned it out, it might be due. Take a look at the back and sides. If the vents and fans are covered in dust it’s time. A vacuum with a hose and some canned air will go a long way.
A word of advice though. If you’ve never done it, there’s likely to be a lot of dust in there. Unplug everything, pop off the side panel and take it outside when you use the canned air. You can use the vacuum around the outside of the case, hold it up the the any places where you see accumulated dust. Then go outside and get it under all the fans. Specifically the big one mounted on the metal heatsink on the motherboard. You’ll probably get a big dust cloud flying out the other side.

My mouse uses a USB connector at the back of the computer. My keyboard uses a PS/2 connector. I try to connect the mp3 players and memory sticks and whatnot to one of the 2 USB ports at the front of the PC.

I’ve not got any updates to download as far as I can tell. A friend came round and fitted a new graphics card for me a couple of months ago and while he was here he gave the machine a bit of a clean out. It’s a bit dusty, but it doesn’t seem too excessive.

I doubt that the computer is overheating. That wouldn’t track with the insertion of a USB device.

It could be that you’ve got a corrupt driver. You may want to download and re-install the USB drivers. The USB controller may be part of the motherboard chipset, so you may want to try updating that driver as well.

The next most likely problem (IMHO) isn’t a good one. It’s a hardware problem with the USB controller for those ports. That’s most likely part of the motherboard and can’t easily be replaced. Did the problem start when your friend dusted it out? Your friend may have dislodged one of the cables or put one of the cables back on incorrectly so that it’s shorting pins together or otherwise mis-connecting when you plug something in.

What happens if you plug the devices into the USB ports on the back of the computer? A simple fix (simpler than replacing the motherboard, anyway) may be to get a cheap little USB hub and a USB extension cable and connect it to one of the ports in the back of the computer.

Exactly what I was going to post, assuming the likely situation that there is more than one USB port on the back.

If you are short on USB ports on the back (e.g. the mouse uses the only one), you can always unplug the mouse temporarily, plug in your device and see if it works. If that’s the case you can go the USB hub route (since your USB port at the back works, you add a “hub” so that you can plug in multiple devices using the back USB port) like engineer_comp_geek suggests: something like this iogear 4-Port USB 2.0 Hub GUH285W6

Oh, man. I fucking love you guys!! I’ve started using the USB ports at the back and now everything’s working great. Thanks so much :smiley: