USB ports on front of computer v those on the back

  blackrook 08:55 27 Jan 2008

Are the USB ports found on the front of a computer basically the same as those found on the back?

I ask because my external hard drive plugged into either of the front ones causes Windows to fail, whereas plugged in at the back seems fine. My machine is a new one and I wonder if something is wrong with the front ports. The handbook is no help and customer support is proving a struggle to get a response. (The machine is a Dell XPS420.)

  Stuartli 09:03 27 Jan 2008

It might be that they are not, for some reason, Enabled in the Bios or, alternatively, unconnected to the motherboard.

Check in the Bios whether the requisite number of USB ports you have on your system are Enabled.

  Technotiger 09:14 27 Jan 2008

Have you tried any other usb items in the front ports? As Stuartli said, quite often the front usb ports are not connected to the motherboard.

  blackrook 09:24 27 Jan 2008

Thanks for those responses.

Might I ask:

1. Is being "unconnected to the motherboard" a defect in manufacture or how it is sometimes supposed to be?

2. From a user's point of view, what should I bear in mind if they are unconnected to the motherboard.

3. I would like to check In Bios as you suggest. I haven't done that before, so would appreciate some guidance as to what I should do.

  blackrook 09:47 27 Jan 2008

In the meantime, I have tried plugging the mouse into the front ports and it worked OK in both cases. Is that a sufficient test?

  AlanHo 09:52 27 Jan 2008

My computer has 4 USB2 ports on the Motherboard and two on the front of the case. I had a similar problem.

My external HD would work fine off any of the rear ports - but was very slow if plugged into the front. In addition, neither my sat-nav nor my mobile phone would not be 'found' if plugged into the front sockets. The front ports were connected to a socket on the motherboard and I eventually plugged it into a different spare socket on the motherboard - whereupon all was OK and it cured the problem.

In my case - the problem was a fault on the motherboard or motherboard USB socket.

  Technotiger 09:57 27 Jan 2008

Hmm, Dell I believe are usually pretty good in the Support department. If the front ports are not connected, then yes that could be an over-sight on the builders, or a defect of some sort. Or, as already stated the ports might not be enabled in the BIOS. IMHO I think that the BIOS route is the less likely option, if rear ports are working ok, then they must be enabled in the BIOS - I am not sure, but I don't think the front ports are enabled/disabled separately from the rear ports - I am not an expert, so perhaps another member can put us right on that point!

If you do need to access the BIOS, you do so by pressing Del on the keyboard while starting up the computer - this will take you to the BIOS Main Menu, on the first 'page' of the Menu you will see clear instructions as to how to navigate through the BIOS. It is then relatively simple to navigate through to where you see USB ports mentioned - you will then be able to see if they are enabled/disabled and will be able to enable them if necessary.

  Technotiger 09:58 27 Jan 2008

Hmm, I must learn to type faster - Yes, your front ports are connected. So you do not need to enter the BIOS.

  Technotiger 10:24 27 Jan 2008

Being such a new machine, I think you would be better advised to persevere with Dell Support.

Nice machine - I'm just a little bit jealous :-)

Good luck.

  blackrook 10:36 27 Jan 2008

I understand there is now no need to go into Bios and I really wouldn't trust myself to open up the machine and check connections.

I am still not clear what the difference is operationally between a port that is connected to the motherboard and one that isn't.

(Technotiger - I know Dell makes a point of its customer support, but at the moment their e-mail reply on another issue begins with an apology for the long delays they are experiencing in responding. I've tried the chat option, but can't get connected and there is a long delay for the phone, with some uncertainty how much per minute it is costing.)

  hssutton 10:57 27 Jan 2008

Not an answer, but I have the same problem on one of my home build PC's. On my vista machine my wireless dongle will work on the front and back USB ports. On my XP-Pro machine the dongle will only work on the back USB ports.

All ports are connected and work with other USB devices.

In the end I just decided to live with the minor irritation.

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