Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

What does "the USB device can perform faster" mean?

I think I saw this once but maybe I was dreaming. I got a system message
about my USB connection to the effect that I would get faster results if I
moved to the faster USB port. On my machine there are two near the top and two
more nearer to the bottom. Are they all equal or are some faster than others
because of their location?

You weren’t dreaming. Smile

Windows does occasionally notify you that “The USB device can perform faster
if you connect it to a High Speed USB 2.0 port.”

When, why, and what to do about it vary depending on your system and the USB
device you have in hand.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

USB (Universal Serial Buss) currently has two versions: the older 1.1, 12
megabit per second standard (mbs), and the newer 2.0 capable of 480mbs, or 40
times faster than 1.1. Both USB devices, and the interfaces you might plug them
into, are either version 1.1 or 2.0.

One interesting aspect of USB is that it’s totally valid to mix and match
1.1 and 2.0. The very common scenario is that a computer will have a USB 2.0
interface, capable of the higher speeds of 2.0, but will still support and work
properly with 1.1 devices plugged in.

The reverse is also true, and I think that’s the scenario you’re seeing. It
works like this:

“And that’s exactly what Windows is telling you: you
have a 2.0 device plugged into a 1.1 interface.”
  • Your computer has a USB 1.1 interface. That means it’s limited to the slower
    12mbs speed.

  • You purchase a newer USB 2.0 device and plug it in. It works, which is nice,
    but even though the device is capable of 480mbs your computer’s USB
    interface will limit it to the slower 12mbs.

And that’s exactly what Windows is telling you: you have a 2.0 device
plugged into a 1.1 interface. As a result it’ll perform slower than it could.
If you were able to plug it into a 2.0 interface then the device would be able
to operate at full speed.

The difference between 1.1 and 2.0 is a difference in hardware, so it’s not
something you can just install new software for. In addition, most machines are
manufactured with all 1.1 or all 2.0 interfaces. Typically older machines have
1.1, and newer machines have 2.0. So it’s also not just a matter of plugging
into a different port on your machine, chances are they’re all the same.

If you have a machine with USB 1.1 interfaces the only real alternative,
short of upgrading to a newer machine, is to purchase a USB 2.0 add-in card.
The USB ports provided by that card will be the higher speed 2.0, while your
older USB interfaces on your machine will remain 1.1.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

26 comments on “What does "the USB device can perform faster" mean?”

  1. My old Dell 530 running XP Pro has now suddenly started providing me with the same wonderful advice about running faster on the usb device. This thing is I don’t care, I rarely use usb except for a dongle. So how do you tell Windows to keep quiet. I really don’t need to be told more than once!

    Reply
  2. Go to Control Panel –> System Properties –> Hardware –> Device Manager –> Universal Serial Bus Controllers. Under each controller right click on Properties and go to the Advanced Tab. Check the box that says Don’t tell me about USB Errors. Save and close.

    Reply
  3. I get that message at least once a week. I have counted 6 rear and 2 front usb female plugs on my computer + 2 on my monitor and 1 on my scanner/printer. The only ones in use are on the rear of my computer. I have Intel 82801EB USB2 Enhanced Host Controller 24DD shown in Device Driver. Also see 4 Standard Universal PCI to USB Host Controller’s shown. One USB Composite Device and 5 USB Root Hub listings. My computer is a Dell purchased Feb 2004. Do I have both 1 and 2? Can I tell which are USB2 by sight? Thanks

    Reply
  4. Didnt leo omit something here? That a USB 2.0 device will slow to 1.1 speed if there are any 1.1 devices using the same root hub? So if possible one should isolate one’s 2.0 devices on one hub and the 1.1’s (mice,keyboard etc) on the 1.1 hubs?

    Reply
  5. I’ve recently purchased a new printer, a lexmark, since that time I’ve be getting the statement that I should purchase a 2.0 usb high speed whatever. I did that. I’m still getting the message. Did I put the plug in the wrong ports? I’m not very “techy”….just want to do the correct thing and have my printer stop making noises even when it is not turned on. Could you explain for me???? Thank you in advance.

    Reply
  6. I have a HP Pavillion running Vista. It has 4 USB 2.0 ports. I have a 4 port USB 2.0 hub. I have 2 printers an externalHDD and a Sandisk flash drive plugged into the hub. I still get this message and I’ve swapped all the devices into the avaoilable computer ports directly. What’s the problem?

    Reply
  7. I have USB 2.0 ports, and I am sure of it by looking at their description under Control Panel. But the transfer rate is not at the speed it’s suppose to be. Can the cable used to connect the USB port and the device be a factor? Is there such a thing as 1.1 vs 2.0 cable?

    Reply
  8. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    No, there’s not really such a things as a USB cable, though
    of course cable quality in general can always play a role.

    Typically when speeds aren’t what I expect it’s because the
    device itself is at issue, or occasionally the USB
    interface.

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFIFpsSCMEe9B/8oqERAqQ5AJ4xKfpDOPfqCxgptA34pco3g3twRACfdNrp
    6zjmMey3uvoYjmZ5TLuU4kc=
    =SN2r
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

    Reply
  9. I have high-speed USB ports and still get the message, and when i go to my device manager and click on the properties for USB, there IS no advanced tab, only general. I’ve looked ALL OVER THE INTERNET for a solution to stop this popup but whenever someone mentions the same problem as me, NO ONE REPLIES, do you have a solution?? Thanks!

    Reply
  10. I have a Compaq C304NR with 2 USB 2.0 ports. Everything checks out in device manager, proper WinXPx32 chipset drivers are installed etc. I’ve tried several Hi speed usb 2 devices (HDD’s) with different cables which the longest was 12 feet. The effective rate of data transfer gives the ~40MBps expected so the USB portion seems to be functioning properly. But every now and then the message will pop up. Just happened again today and the last time was about 8 months ago give or take. I’ve gone through maybe a little over a dozen or so fresh formats and reinstalls with first SP2 and now SP3. Linux of course never reports or encounters any errors and everything always works perfectly in every OS.

    Therefore I’m lead to believe this is a M$ bug…

    Reply
  11. I certenly have usb 2.0 port on my notebook (I have checked it with the servise department of the store I bought it) but when I connect a canon pixma mp630 the message “This device can perform faster if you connect it to a hi speed usb 2.0 port” still appears. Why is that? I also have downloaded all update drivers. What can I do?

    Reply
  12. I also have a laptop with USB 2.0 but I still get the message. I am annoyed because I am getting slow speeds from my GSM modem and I suspect this could part of it.

    Reply
  13. If you indeed have USB 2.0 hardware AND you are running Windows XP with SP3 installed, then try to install Microsoft hotfix KB945436. This should help you for sure.

    Reply
  14. Why doen’t the device show up as a drive? I don’t care that it is working slower.. I just want it to appear in my file explorer as a drive.

    Reply
  15. Since reformatting my computer it seems I can’t get my usb ports to hi-speed 2.0 status anymore. I’ve researched this extensively already online and tried out all the troubleshooting and whatnot (i.e. checking to see if the ports are hi-speed enabled in BIOS — which they were — and also making sure I have WinXP SP3/2/1 and clicking to update the enhanced host port driver(s) from device manager to no avail — windows wizard claims to find no better software for the hardware installed).

    I know my ports are not hi-speed because of this one external device that works only through a hi-speed usb port not powering on – windows help box suggesting I move the device to another port, but it says that for all of them.

    any input much appreciated. Anyhow, it worked last year, with any HD and now I can get it to work 2.0 and it is annoying, because, I need half an hour to copy 10 megs!

    Reply
  16. I get the same message when I connect an External HDD to an usb port. I have a notebook Acer Extensa 5630 purchased in 2009, and I’m pretty sure that all the ports are 2.0. I have a dedicated port to e-sata where I usually connect the hdd, but I get the same message “the usb device can perform faster” and the problem is that I would love to see it do so, because usually the speed is about 6-10mb/s and I used to have 40-50mb/s. In the past I was using win XP and now I switched to windows 7. What is there to be done? Thanks!

    Reply
  17. I keep getting this exact message! The thing is, I don’t have anything plugged into any of the usb ports. Also, the computer beeps every so often until the usb options finally open on it’s own! Why does this continue to happen & how do I stop it?

    Reply
  18. Hi i’m guessing my USB is 2.0 but it copies data at the speed of 1.1 I say this because if you look at my motherboard (m2npv-vm) its says it supports up to 8 USB 2.0 ports, but am i missing something? Or is it just saying it supports 2.0 devices?im confused. And thanks in advanced!!!

    Reply
  19. Thanks Leo! That error message has plagued me for a couple of years and no one could tell me why. My trusty but old Dell XPS M1330 is USB 2.0, my Belkin 7 port is USB 2.0, my keyboard is USB 2.0 but the stupid Microsoft wheel mouse optical is 1.1!!! Yes, I’m buying you a coffee, you’ve earned it.

    Reply
  20. i have an intel sch famaliy usb2 enhanced controlller on my controller list but still get can perform faster message for my new sierra 250u 4g broadband card. should i uninstall this driver and reinstall. i dont want to uninstall unless i have to as dont want to screw anything up. my computer is a 1 year old sony vpcs115kx.

    Reply
  21. Actually, when I plug in my portable hard drive, I get the following message: “The USB device can perform faster if you connect it to a High Speed USB 2.0 port.”

    Below that, it says: “For a list of available ports, cick here”.

    When I click there, it brings up a long list of ports, same as that displayed in the Device Manager. It says, “USB Root Hub” 7 ports. Below that are listed seven “unused ports”. Then there is another entry, “USB Root Hub” 2 ports. Below that are shown one “USB port” and one “USB composite device”.

    Below that is a “Recommendation” which says: “Disconnect the USB mass storage device from its current port and then connect it to one of the ports on a hub shown in bold type”.

    The question is, HOW can I do this? Where is this hub on my computer? Of course it shows an image on the screen, but I can’t shove the USB connector into my computer screen, can I?

    Yeah, that gets pretty missleading pretty quick. There may be more ports/hubs, but either they’re being used internally by the motherboard, OR the motherboard ports don’t all have connections to the outside world. All you can really do is try all the USB ports on your machine – check both front & back.

    Leo
    31-Jan-2011

    Reply
  22. Hi Leo, thanks for the article.

    I have a twist on this problem. I have a slightly aged Maxtor oneTouch usb2 external HD which SOMETIMES connects to a logical hub on an enhanced usb2 controller, but usually connects on a slow one, even though I’m plugging it in to the same physical port on my dell vostro 1700 laptop. It’s a hardware problem, but the fact that it sometimes works – as verified by a drive speed test (usb_hd_speed.exe in this case) – encourages me. The bad news is, once I get it working high-speed, it reverts to 4ish mbps when the laptop goes to sleep 🙁
    I have been experimenting with disabling/uninstalling usb hubs/controllers. I think the most likely thing to work was uninstalling all the hubs/controllers and connecting right after auto-discovery put them back, but the testing is tedious and time consuming when you don’t know how any of it really works. In addition, it’s starting to look like the enhanced usb2 controller is built on top of the regular one, ’cause I’ve had zero success with disabling all but the usb2 ones. Is this true?
    More importantly, can you think of any repeatable sequence of steps I could use to coax this device onto the right hub every time?
    Thanks in advance,
    8riaN

    Reply
  23. i have a problem with showing 16 different usb ports….i only have 7 and those 7 are all usb 2.0 defined by the manufacturer. i cannot use the 2.0 capabilities of these ports. i have tried disabling the ones that they connect to in the device manager. only to have my mouse not work and have to operate with my keyboard for a while. this became a problem when i inadvertently uninstalled one of my usb drivers….now every time i plug in a high speed device it gives my the “it can be faster if you plug it into a high speed port” i have tried every port and 2 different devices. i click on the pop up and it shows i have 7 different unused 2.0 ports. i cannot get those ports to work. these are all internal motherboard usb ports . any ideas? i have also tried to get new drivers which installed fine but did nothing. i have also tried to uninstall all of the usb port hubs and the controller….had to keyboard to a restart and also did not do anything.
    if you can please help me that would be great!
    thanks
    H.james

    Reply
  24. The message The unknown USB Device is a HI-SPEED USB device and will function at reduced speed when plugged in to a non HI-SPEED port.

    Q: I have performed the part shown below:Best to use Microsoft Management Console to access Device Mgr.
    Click View, change to “View Devices by Connection”, & Show
    Hidden devices.

    Expand the ACPI Processor (or Multiprocessor) PC
    Expand the Microsoft ACPI – Compliant System
    Expand PCI Bus
    Then locate and expand each USB Hub identified. At this level it will
    show what devices are on that particular Hub channel.

    Okay now under PCI bus i got 2.0 Enhanced Host Controller and Universal Host Controller. My device is under Universal Host Controller. What i understand is my device should be in 2.0 Enhanced Host Controller(has 6 ports). How could i change the device from Universal Host Controller to 2.0 Enhanced Host Controller. Need step by step instructions please. Appreciate you assistance, Thanks.
    Trevor.

    Reply

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.