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If ALL the usb ports have stopped working, this is a problem with the USB controller. The short answer is that you cannot easily repair this. In all probability, the controller, or a circuit trace to it has blown or shorted. You would need to get another motherboard.
If one is still working, then you can get a PCIMCIA card to usb port that will give you 2-4 extra ports, but this will only work if at east one of your existing usb ports is still functioning
sometimes usb hard drives will not work through a usb hub.
if the drive works connected to the laptop but not the hub then that's how you'll have to use it.
it's also possible the laptop cannot power both the hub AND the drive, in whaich case you'll need a powered hub (one you plug in to the mains).
Have you install the driver first before connecting it? Check out the Device manager entries if showing any yellow mark?
Goto start --> Run --> type in there --> devmgmt.msc
this will open up the Device manager.
Check it and let me know. Have a nice day
Unfortunately after looking at the computer installation details i was at fault, although i have had the computer for well over 2 years and this is the first time it has happened. My Dell Dimension 5150 has 7 USB ports 5 at the back and 2 in the front and it appears that i have connected the keyboard and mouse to the wrong ports. There are two ports at the bottom allocated for the keyboard and mouse and for some reason i had them in the top three ports hence my problem but still not sure why it happened. Anyway my Dell Dimension 5150 is now running OK and no further help is needed.
After installing the USB controller card into a PCI slot inside your computer, connect the 4 port hub to it with the supplied cable. (at the back of the computer)
Do not connect the DVD Recorder to the old usb ports. They will still work, but obviously not 2.0.
Connecting the power supply for the hub is optional, but usually a good idea.
If your computer still doesn't recognize the hub, make sure you have all of the latest windows updates and try running Add New Hardware in control panel. Also, just unplugging the hub and plugging it back in will sometimes work. Use a different port on the controller card if necessary.
As a last resort, you may need to disable the onboard usb controller through your system bios.