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Re: Dead USB Ports...
First go into Device manager and see if there is a Yellow! or a Red (x) next to any of the USB ports. If so right click and there will be a tab with solutions. If that doesn't get you anywhere go into BIOS and search for all of the USB ports. You should be able to add or turn onto Automatic to get them going. USB is simply a port, so some kind of the way the ports either got shut off or they are blocked.
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does your usb mem stick have any light indicators? if yes , whenever you put you usb stick, does it light? if it lights are USB ports is still ok, You just have to reformat or partition you USB stick.
(you can also try other devices like usb mouse or any usb devices that lights up when you connect it)
if there are no lights if you plug, or no indication that a power goes to your stick, its possible that your usb your are busted. if this is the case, if your laptop has a PCMIA slot, you can find a pcmia USB card, if you dont have. your only option is replace the motherboard.
You'll want to verify your computer recognizes your usb ports.
In device manager, look to see that you don't have anything with an exclamation mark, question mark, or red X on it. Make sure you have the usb ports listed under Universal Serial Bus controllers. If nothing shows, your usb ports may be dead. Depends on the age of your computer and what might have happened to them.
Device manager- right-click My Computer and go to properties, then select the hardware tab.
Reinstall your USB drivers: Navigate to Device manager, find a branch named "USB Controllers" or similar Right click the one thats the problem (or all of them if you dont know which), select Uninstall Reboot your machine and windows will autodetect the USBs and reinstall their drivers.
I have the same problem with my Compaq Presario V2000. Lost both USB ports and HP tells me that the motherboard has to be replaced at $300 +..I searched and found a PCMCIA card with two USB ports for $10. No problems with the USB ports on this card..great and cheap solution.
My belief is that the compaq usb ports do not have power limiting circuitry therefore allowing you to overload the output power on the ports. My ports failed after I downloaded into a burglar alarm system I was programming.
As you have already stated that the port in question can run a standard optical mouse, the port seems to be working fine.
Sometimes the drivers for a USB device need to be installed for each USB port. Maybe you have installed these drivers for 3 of your 4 USB ports, but not for the one in question, result of which is the problem you face.