“one of the USB device attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognise it”
December 27, 2011 11:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting the following message: “one of the USB device attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognise it” I post the message not because it is informative about the problem but because it's the recurring symptom. It occurs sometimes when I plug in a device, but even more often on devices that have been connected for some time. If I ignore it, the device might even start working again. (Most annoying are the message that tell me I have to reformat the device as I am afraid the cat will walk by and click on OK and wipe out my data.) The most "interesting" analysis online suggested that some kind of timeout for a device that hasn't been used in "a while" tells the system to "renew" which fails and results in the message. This may even be true, but who knows?

It might be hopeless. There are pages of google hits for this message with suggestions including reinstall the drivers, power off for an hour, downgrade all the ports to usb 1 by changing the registry. One of the pages I consulted, in the comment section had the following:

None of these recommendations work for most cases. Just do an internet search and view all of the users having this same problem with laptops and desk top computers.

Is it a coincidence that so many computers are all having USB failures? Strange that Device Manager always says the USB contollers are working but its the device plugged in that is not recognized and supposedly failed. Okay, but why do the same devices work when plugged into a different computer?

Clean re-installation of Windows 7 does not fix the problem. Unplugging and taking out the battery also useless. Sure seems to be an OS problem that simply fails to identify any USB device and then fails to apply the correct driver. Hundreds of suggestions are on numerous threads addressing this issue but everything appears to be simply shots in the dark without any real definitive answer!

And so I turn to you, in my despair. Win 7 home 64 bits. Please hope me!
posted by Obscure Reference to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My laptop did that both with devices plugged in and then later when there wasn't even anything in any ports. It turned out to be something wrong with the motherboard, which was replaced, and thus far it hasn't started up again.
posted by vegartanipla at 11:19 AM on December 27, 2011

Are you plugging the device in directly, or through a hub? Intermittent usb hub problems are often caused by insufficient power - depending on what the other devices are doing at the time, the hub may not have enough juice to talk to everything. Other than that, you might just have a faulty port - try keeping track of what is plugged where when the message comes up, switching things around to unused ports might do the trick.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:21 AM on December 27, 2011

For whatever it's worth: my notebook computer serves as my main system and never leaves my computer desk. There is a BD drive, a hub, a mouse, and a couple of other devices permanently plugged into it.

I have never seen that error message.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:08 PM on December 27, 2011

Tracking down intermittent USB errors is a massive headache, but here's something you can try.

-Go to your Start menu and right click on 'Computer' and select Manage. (There should be the little admin shield to it's left)

-In the 'Computer Management' window that pops up, select 'Device Manager'. The right frame of the window should populate with such sundries as 'Computer', 'Disk Drives' 'Display Adaptors', etc.

-You may have to scroll down until you see a heading for 'Unknown USB Device' with the little yellow triangle with the ! in it.

-Click on the arrow that opens that heading, and you will see one or more 'Unknown USB Devices' Right click on one of them and select 'Properties'

-In the window that pops up, select the 'Details' tab. Then under the 'Property' drop down menu, select 'Hardware Ids'. On my machine, it's the second choice from the top.

-Google those values. They should tell you exactly what device this is and who the manufacturer is, and you can get new/good/non-corrupted drivers from them.

All that being said, if your thumb drive is failing, it's failing. They don't last forever.
posted by Sphinx at 12:34 PM on December 27, 2011

Are you using a USB hub, the USB ports on a monitor or keyboard? Is the hub plugged in to power?

How many devices do you have plugged in?

Does it happen with only one device plugged in?

Do you have Windows allowed to "turn off device" in power management for the hub/usb controller/devices themselves?

(Most USB problems like this are due to too much power demand. Using a powered hub, one that you plug into mains power, is your best bet if that is the case.)
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:39 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem with my Toughbook, and we've basically tried every single thing out there apart from replacing the motherboard as someone else mentions, and nothing has worked.

I figured that since I obviously wasn't using whatever it was that was broken, I could just disable it.

First identify which USB hub is having the issue, and then enter the Boot Menu and disable the hardware that's malfunctioning.

No more annoying pop-ups happening every five seconds.
posted by Peregrin5 at 1:43 PM on December 27, 2011

Response by poster: 1) It's not just one particular usb port--it's many different ones at differing times.
2) I usually know which one is being referred to (and the device works fine on other computers or other ports on this one or even the same port later in the day without even having unplugged it).
3) I get the message more with hubs than plugged in directly but that may be coincidental or because I have more hubs.
4) I'd never seen that message until now. But, now I've seen it so much that it averages out as the message I've seen the most in my lifetime. I'm considering it as a title for my novel, or more likely, for my tombstone.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:20 PM on December 27, 2011

Best answer: Under Power settings, check the 'USB settings' -> 'USB selective suspend settings' and make sure it is disabled.

Open Deivce manager, Double click on Universal Serial Bus controler at teh bottom, Double Click USB Root Hub, Click Power Management on top right, Uncheck Allow Power...


*You can disable the USB Selective Suspend feature as a workaround by editing the registry. The USB device may become unresponsive because of a race condition in the Selective Suspend feature. The Selective Suspend feature suspends the USB device to efficiently maintain battery power by enabling the computer to turn off the USB device. However, sometimes this feature may not correctly wake up the USB device. Therefore, the USB device is unresponsive when you try to use it.
You might want to disable this feature for server products where power management is not important or required.
*To disable the Selective Suspend feature, follow these steps:
Click Start, and then click Run.
Note If you are running Windows Vista, click Start, and then use the Start Search box.
Type regedit, and then click OK. Registry Editor opens.
Locate and then click the following registry subkey:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Servic es\USB
If the DisableSelectiveSuspend registry entry is present, double-click it. If it is not present, create the entry. To create the entry, follow these steps:
On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD.
Type DisableSelectiveSuspend, and then press ENTER.
On the Edit menu, click Modify.
In the Value data field, type 1 to disable the Selective Suspend feature, and then click OK.
posted by neversummer at 10:52 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: neversummer!
That got rid of my messages!

Yet I'm still having transient USB problems. I'm going to guess, for now, that I actually had 2 problems disguised as one, the other one actually being related to the hubs, devices, and/or cables.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:32 AM on December 29, 2011

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