What are these odd kinda-USB ports on my HP laptop?
December 20, 2013 6:28 AM   Subscribe

I have an old HP Pavillion (I think) laptop. It has two standard USB ports, and then two others that are almost the same size as USB ports, but not quite, and any USB items I plug in do not get recognized by the computer. Anyone have any clue what they might be?
posted by canine epigram to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Any chance of a photo? Theories: DVI, sata, maybe firewire?
posted by phunniemee at 6:31 AM on December 20, 2013

SATA ports look a little like USB (and there are even ports that double as both), but aren't really compatible. They don't have the right number of pins and the thickness of the connector is wrong.

Very hard to say without a photo or more specific model number of the machine though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:35 AM on December 20, 2013

power only usb ports? Older external hard drives & cdroms sometimes used 2 cables to draw enough power to run. Manufacturers may have had proprietary implementations of this resulting in non-standard ports for their own branded accessories.

If you have a cellphone you could see if you can charge it off those different ports.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:40 AM on December 20, 2013

Response by poster: Aha! remembered the model number (dm4) and looked it up. Apparently it has a USB/eSATA port, which I'm not even sure how that works, or if I have to do something special to get Windows to recognize USB devices when plugged into it.
posted by canine epigram at 6:49 AM on December 20, 2013

Old firewire 800 9-pin ports? You can jam a USB into the outer portion of one of those ports.
posted by fontophilic at 6:49 AM on December 20, 2013

Older HPs and Dells were notorious for having absolute shit eSATA connections. My advice: not even worth trying to find an eSATA cable to hook up a portable hard-drive. A waste of your time.
posted by kuanes at 7:10 AM on December 20, 2013

I have seen a few laptops with combined e-Sata/USB ports (including HP) and in my experience it simply takes more force to get a USB cable into one of them than a regular USB port. I think if you confirm you've got the USB cable oriented properly and push hard enough, it will insert.
posted by camcgee at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2013

On re-reading it seems you're having problems with getting Windows to see it and not getting the cable in.

Are you getting power to devices plugged in to the port? Does Windows start its device installation dialog and does it give any error message, or no response at all?

If you're getting power but no dialog, or a dialog that errors then it's more likely a driver issue.

If you're getting nothing at all, it could still potentially be driver related but also could be a faulty port of a loose connection.
posted by camcgee at 9:20 AM on December 20, 2013

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