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Why Do I Need to Unplug and Plug in my USB Device to Keep It Working?

Question: I have a year and a half old Dell XPS Desktop running Windows 7 (which is kept updated) that has no PS2 ports. I have a monitor with a built-in USB hub (where the hub has its own power supply). I also have a PS2 keyboard and PS2 trackball, both of which I love and want very much to keep using. When I got this new Dell, I got a PS2-to-USB “Y”-adapter and plugged it into the monitor’s USB hub. Everything worked well for over a year – except that maybe once a week or two, they stopped responding with the computer wake up and I had to unplug and replug the USB plug.

This would solve the problem for another week or two. About a month ago, this issue suddenly became not just a daily problem, but even needed doing every five to ten minutes or so. The power supply to the monitor’s USB hub seems to be fine and the other USB functions seem to work fine as well. I’ve re-routed my PS2 USB cord directly to the computer’s USB port and this solved the five-to-ten minute problem, but I still need to unplug and replug the USB plug every day when I wake the computer up. And yes, I reboot regularly, which has had no effect or improvement on the issue. What do you think?

The problem that you’re experiencing is not uncommon. You tried a couple of things that I would normally recommend, but I can think of a few more that might help you in this scenario.

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Don’t use the hub

The path between your computer and your USB device gets complicated when a hub is in the middle of it. In theory, everything should work just fine with hubs, but the reality can often be different.

My first recommendation would normally be to connect your Y-adapter directly into one of the USB ports on your computer bypassing the hub. This may avoid some of the intermittent problems that hubs often introduce.

You already did this, and while it improves the situation there’s still something going on.

PS/2 Y-adapterTry other ports

Because you’re still seeing some problems with that device, I would actually recommend that you try all of the USB ports that are available on that computer.

Why? On some machines, USB ports can have subtle variations. Sometimes, they go through different hardware. In other cases, they will go through the equivalent of an internal hub – they same kind of technology that we tried to bypass above.

Eliminating the ports that may be giving you problems can make things better.

There’s another reason why I recommend that you try all of the USB ports. With all of the plugging, unplugging, and replugging that you’ve been doing with this Y-device, it’s possible that the pins on the connector have become dirty, bent, or intermittent. With USB, that’s difficult to address because the pins are well-protected, hard to access, and almost impossible to examine, clean, or fix.

Replace the cable

If that doesn’t solve the problem, see if you can replace just the cable for that Y-device. You may even consider getting two separate PS2-to-USB converters and see if that isolates or stops the problems that you’re experiencing.

I understand the allure of some of these older keyboards and mice or in your case, track balls that are only available with the older style PS2 connector. With some care and paying attention to your USB ports, you should be able to continue to use them for years to come.

Do this

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10 comments on “Why Do I Need to Unplug and Plug in my USB Device to Keep It Working?”

  1. This was driving me crazy, I almost bought a new computer . I tried an old solution to fix hardware problems. I turned off the compute then removed each memory card and other cards in the computer and reinserted them , I don’t know why but I think it was a bad contact with one of the cards or memory. With restarting the problem had not re occurred for over a week and my usb devices works perfect.

  2. What happens if I leave the wireless mouse usb in the computer instead of taking it out and plugging it in again? Will it damage the computer.

  3. I have a wireless dell laptop and a wireless brother printer. For months the printer has not worked wirelessly and I must connect it to my dell to get it to work. Windows could not locate my printer and I have tried everything I can think of. Your opinion is greatly appreciated.

  4. I have this problem with every wireless printer I buy. I have owned a Dell, a Brother, and an HP. The wireless is the first to go and then when I hardwire it, I have to unplug and plug back in to get it to work. I’ve had several different computers and this always happens. I don’t understand why I cant find a reliable printer.

  5. my dell laptop works and stop completely When I disconnect power and reconnect it works again for a while then it happens again what do you think it is

  6. I’ve discovered it may be a power setting called selective USB suspention. I noticed it was enabled in my power settings. I’m usually very obsessive about customizing power settings on any PC I use, laptop or otherwise. When I saw this setting enabled it made me really suspicious so I disabled it and have not had the issue again.


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