USB 2.0 devices on older Windows PCs?
November 17, 2016 10:19 AM   Subscribe

I need to get a Windows 7 machine to recognize USB 2.0 devices, which it currently seems unable to do - they don't show up in the file menu or the device manager. Is there a relatively simple way to do this that I'm missing?
posted by ryanshepard to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
I don't think this is a Windows problem because Windows 7 would have had support for it out of the box. Try checking for drivers for your computer's motherboard or look into the bios for what kind of USB support has been selected.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:28 AM on November 17, 2016

USB 2.0 should work perfectly with Windows 7. Are you sure totally sure this isn't a hardware problem?

If possible:
- Try the same devices on other machines, and a device that works on the problem machine
- Check the BIOS if USB is disabled (I've seen corporate machines with USB disabled for security concerns - no errant memory sticks this way)
- Check if USB drivers are installed, by making a new hardware search
posted by lmfsilva at 10:38 AM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

What do you mean by "older"? Any computer made in the past decade, and certainly one that can run Windows 7 should be able to use USB 2.0 devices and be USB 2.0 compatible. Are you sure the problem devices aren't USB 3.0? I had to add a USB 3.0 card to my desktop to get them to work.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:15 AM on November 17, 2016

USB is backward compatible. Meaning, USB 3 devices should work on older USB 2 and 1.1 ports, they should just be slow.

I know you're trying USB 2 devices. Any computer built in the last 12 years should support USB 2. Seriously.

If they're not working, I would go into Device Manager and make sure you don't have a giant exclamation mark next to your USB controller. I would also check in the BIOS to see if USB is disabled.

USB 2 works pretty much out of the box. USB 3 sometimes requires some additional drivers from the manufacturer. Are you sure these aren't USB 3 ports? They'd be colored BLUE.
posted by kbanas at 11:25 AM on November 17, 2016

You can boot it into Linux and see if they're recognized there. If not, you have some kind of hardware or BIOS problem. If so, something's not right in Windows.
posted by Candleman at 11:31 AM on November 17, 2016

Are you using a work computer or your own? If it's a work computer and you're working for a larger organization, it's possible some software has been installed to disable certain types of devices, like USB storage.
posted by mikeh at 12:05 PM on November 17, 2016

It could either be a hardware issue (some sort of communication between your motherboard and the USB ports) or a software issue (settings aren't configured correctly). When you plug in USB devices, nothing happens at all? You could maybe check your plug & play settings to make sure your computer is allowing USB devices to be recognized and installed immediately. Updating or rolling back your drivers could be an option to try too. If your computer has system restore points set up, you could restore to the last time USB worked properly.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:18 PM on November 17, 2016

Is it a hard drive or thumb drive? Might just be stuck on a drive letter you cant use. Check storage manager.
posted by chasles at 12:49 PM on November 17, 2016

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