When your cheapass laptop starts to go...

Do the USB ports seem to go first? We bought a $500 special about two years ago for the wife and about two months ago, Windows 7 Reported that the battery was dead and should be replaced. Since it never leaves the kitchen table, we ignored that.

Now it’s only got 2 fully functioning USB ports, one will charge only and the other will send data but not charge.


Anecdotally, it was also how her LAST cheapass laptop died, after a similar period of time.

I had a laptop do that.

I wouldn’t call my laptop cheapass, and the only issues with the USB ports I’ve had were caused by misshapen ends on USB cords.

I have replaced the battery, and now use a auxillary screen and an auxillary keyboard, so, frankly, if the USB port gave me a lick of trouble, I think I’d just replace the whole laptop, so I’d have something portable again.

I don’t remember having any trouble with the USB ports on my last laptop. It has had one hard drive and a few battery replacements before the screen backlight died after 7 years.

Batteries are a crap shoot after the first year. Some hang in almost forever. Others go completely dead. Some languish in the middle.

I’ve never had a USB port go dead from a hardware issue myself. I have a suspicion that using them to charge devices too often may be an issue. But don’t neglect the possibility of a software issue. Check your device manager to see if something show up there. I’ll let someone with more knowledge explain what happens, but you may not have the ports properly assigned in Windows because so many devices or programs have been entered in the past. There are ways to clear out the garbage and get a fresh assignment of USB ports. That might bring them back to functioning.

I booted into Ubuntu from a live linux DVD, the behavior was the same. On a Mac, there’s Parameter RAM that can get corrupted (I temporarily lost a USB port on my MBP that I got back after resetting the PRAM) but I don’t believe there’s an equivalent on PC hardware.

I have less than Zero desire to buy an $80 battery if the rest of the laptop is starting to go. When the last laptop gave it up after about 2 years, we made sure to throw this one on a surge suppressor, that doesn’t appear to have affected things any.