IBM T42p Thinkpad USB ports not working

by oneafrikan on March 3, 2006

OK, so I’ve never really liked the trackpad that comes on most or all laptops these days, but now I’m starting to get used to it and it’s not soo bad… I’m still missing my mouse a lot though – writing and working with email and Outlook is one thing, but coding with a trackpad is another story…

I’m hoping that I can throw this out into the ether and someone will be able to help me, before I have to send my beloved black beautiful Thinkpad back to IBM for a new system board, and (they officially say) between 5 and 10 work days downtime…

It all happened on Tuesday night when I left the Thinkpad on screensaver for a while, came back to the desk and tried to bring it out of suspend with the mouse and then the keyboard, then shut it down. Booted up on Wednesday morning, and both the mouse and keyboard weren’t working… Thought it may have been failure with both or either, but put the mouse into my desktop, and did the same with the keyboard, and they both work fine there. So basically it’s the USB ports that are not working… which is a bugger.

After a lot of reading and research, it turns out that sometimes if the laptop goes into suspend and you have the system set to allow the machine to cut power from the USB ports (which I unknowingly did) to save power, it will de-activtate the USB ports… and once it does that and you try to bring the machine back using the ports (like with an attached mouse etc) it can fry the circuitry, and the only fix is a new system board. So in desperation and denial, I tried everything I know to get it back, including:

  • uninstalling then reinstalling the USB ports after a reboot
  • disabling then enabling the USB ports after a reboot
  • updating the USB port drivers automatically and manually
  • going into the BIOS and disabling then enabling the USB ports from there
  • flashing the BIOS with the latest version, from the IBM/Lenovo website
  • attaching other devices that have different power needs – PDA, iPod, camera
  • periodically re-attaching mouse hoping that it will just work and it’s all been a dream

I also ran the recommended PC Doctor that comes with the Thinkpad, and it said that the USB ports were working fine…

The pain, the anguish!! ;-)
So there you have it – does anyone at all know any other tricks or fixes that I can use to try get the USB ports working again? without having to take it into IBM for a new system board!?


Sorry guys,

that is a hardware problem not a software problem.
I gave my thinkpad t42p (14.1″) back to lenovo and they changed the motherboard.
Reinstalling the OS DOES NOT solve the problem. Sorry :(
It’s a hardware problem, not a software one…

by Hirosh Dabui on March 13, 2008 at 9:29 pm. Reply #

For month I could not find a solution to get my USB ports operational again…..I tried EVERYTHING on my T42p. Eventually I reformatted the disk and installed XP….GREAT MY USB ports are working again !!!!!

by Helmi on March 14, 2008 at 5:41 am. Reply #

I had a similar problem with my T42p. It wouldn’t light up the LED on my USB stick. I powered down. Then I removed the battery and unplugged the AC power cord. Then I held down the power button for 10 seconds. After reconnecting and powering back up, it’s all working fine again.


by Garry U on April 4, 2008 at 7:00 pm. Reply #

I have a iPod Shuffle the new ones and it sent a power surge through my laptop and I haven’t even had it for a year yet, and now my laptop won’t turn on I don’t want to pay to get it fixed I haven’t got any money and if my mum finds out she’ll go balistic…

by Staanakaalicia on July 16, 2008 at 7:08 am. Reply #

Please tell us what Laptop Brand and Model Number you own, maybe there is a combination of buttons you can press to wake it from the dead. Anyway, a first test could be to remove the power plug and the rechargeable battery for some minutes…then put the battery back in place, cross fingers and hit the power on button.

Good luck!

by gbuster on July 16, 2008 at 9:42 am. Reply #

Maybe also try power up without the battery (which in my limited electrical brain tells me that we’re going around the battery circuitry which is what perhaps got fried?)…

by Gareth Knight on July 16, 2008 at 9:49 am. Reply #

I don’t know what kind but it’s a Dell…
I got it going again, what I done was I unplugged the power cord and took the battery out, then put the battery back in and then it still wouldn’t turn on so I held the power button down for about 15 seconds and then quickly hit it again and now it’s working fine except for the USB hubs.

by Staanakaalicia on July 17, 2008 at 12:43 am. Reply #

Grats! A workaround for the fried usb ports could be to buy a pcmcia USB adaptor, they are cheap and work well. And remember to touch some metal (table-leg, office chair etc) before plugging in the ipod again. :-)

by gbuster on July 17, 2008 at 8:57 am. Reply #

Hi I have a IBM laptop and it’s about 2 years old.
Couple months after I got it i spilled milk on the mouse pad and it completely stopped working, other then moving the mouse around. It was no biggie cause I just went out and bought a mouse that connected to the USB ports and I could just use that. Although, both USB ports on the back of my computer suddenly stopped working. It doesn’t detect anything from various mouses to my ipod. I would plug in a mouse and it will light up for a split second then turn off. So unfortunately, i have no way to use my computer without a mouse.

If anyone knows any way of maybe reseting the USB ports please tell me.

by Ani on July 24, 2008 at 4:19 am. Reply #

@Ani: Sounds like you need a new motherboard, or at least USB controller…

by Gareth Knight on July 24, 2008 at 11:50 am. Reply #

same problem happened on my t42. not sure what i did different ,but the computer won’t start after i shut it off with external hard drive on. i took out battery and unplugged AC and got it started a few minutes later however USBs are dead for good. i tried everything suggested on this board and nothing worked. luckily i got it to work after installing a pcmcia card. it is a pain in the as* and i just hated this sh*t. anyhow i am grateful it finally worked again after spending way too much time on it.

good luck to those with the same problem.

p.s. my external hard is also fried during this incident and need to figure this part 2 out now.


by jason on July 25, 2008 at 3:26 am. Reply #

thank you for your help, i got it to work. it wasn’t as complicated as i thought. all i had to do was take out the huge battery under my laptop and put it back in to fully reset it.

by ani on July 25, 2008 at 9:59 pm. Reply #

This is a solution I found from the Internet from someone who used the dock with Linux.
I tried the same with XP and it worked …

Hope it works for you guys too.

After you re-dock, just hibernate and then resume — after this, the USB devices plugged into the dock (the ultrabase) work again.

by Kiran Kashalka on August 22, 2008 at 3:14 pm. Reply #

Lemme know if it works for all

by Kiran Kashalkar on August 22, 2008 at 9:00 pm. Reply #

have a toshiba equium laptop – had the same prob with the usb freezing after an ipod connection – pcmcia usb solution does notr seem to work – has anyone had this same initial prob and worked around the pcmcia solution????

by RussMac on September 2, 2008 at 1:33 pm. Reply #

Do you know the reason about USB Port reading but not working?

by battery on September 16, 2008 at 4:23 am. Reply #

This just happened to me yesterday. I have an iPhone and I keep it connected (via USB) to my T42p all day at work. When I get a call, I disconnect the phone and go to a better spot to take the call. So, yesterday, when I cam back I re-connected my phone and POOF … the laptop shut down hard and fast. After removing the battery, I was able to boot up again but I definitely got a whiff of that distinct smell of a circuit board burning. I left my phone disconnected yesterday, but today, the USB is dead. It wouldn’t work to my KVM or to a thumb drive. No way I am going to try the phone. Everything on the system side checks out, so I think something burned up on the board and its a goner. Everything else is fine (smell is gone). Interesting how so many have this same problem. Time for an MacBook.

by Bill Monroe on October 23, 2008 at 2:27 pm. Reply #

Same thing happen to me too. Plugged my iphone for charging . and suddenly my notebook getting really hot. Then, i smell something burning , i hurry up unplugged my phone and BAM windows lock up. Now all my usb port are toast, can’t do anything about it casue i think i burn out my usb host controller or something.

by jason on October 25, 2008 at 1:34 pm. Reply #

My girlfriend plugged her ipod nano into my T42 and the USB ports didn’t blow completely but they started bugging big time they are USB 2.0 but started running at USB 1.0 speed and when I plugged in a USB 2.0 device it gave me the usual message about being able to work faster on a USB 2.0 port. it wouldn’t show me the remove hardware icon aether so I was savagely unplugging without stopping my devices.
Anyway I went to device manager witch was displaying 4 host controllers of witch only 1 was USB 2.0 and 4 Root Hubs.
I Updated the drivers on the host controllers and that at least gave me my unplug hardware icon back and then I disabled all but the USB 2.0 host controller and the corresponding Root Hub that I found with trial and error.
Now both uUSBsb ports are running fine.

Hope this helps anyone who has the same probleme
ps I’m runing XP

by Nuttychef on November 28, 2008 at 11:32 pm. Reply #

Solution for problem: replacing IC Max1693 (for example this will be U101 and U102 on Thinkpad R32) on motherboard. This chip placed nearby USB connector.

by Konstantin on December 14, 2008 at 11:26 am. Reply #

Hi there! Did anyone ever fry the bluetooth in addition to the USB? Happened to me just yesterday. Bugger!

by Stefan F. on January 27, 2009 at 10:55 pm. Reply #

Hi…I’m having same problem with my Thinkpad a-31. Does anyone know if a docking station/port simulator would fix the problem?

by Debbie W. on February 25, 2009 at 10:07 pm. Reply #

@Debbie – sounds like that could work, although not tried it. If you can, give it a try – what have you got to lose? ;-)

by Gareth Knight on February 26, 2009 at 9:02 am. Reply #

If you’re technical enough, then suggest trying Helmi’s solution too:

To diagnose the problem and determine if it was a Windows driver problem….. or another software problem…. or a hardware problem, I booted the IBM laptop from a Linux CD and to my surprise I found that the USB ports were working perfectly… I then knew it was a Operating system or driver problem. The only way I could fix the problem was to REINSTALL Windows from a newly formated hard drive !!!

Good luck !


by Gareth Knight on February 26, 2009 at 9:58 am. Reply #

I have had the same problem as everybody else. I was dual booting Windows XP and Ubuntu 8.10. All of a sudden my usb’s stopped working. I think it is a BIOS issue. I went into the BIOS, then into the start-up page, and moved all the usb start-up options to the bottom of the list, after a reboot into ubuntu, both usb ports worked again. I recently toasted my MBR in Windows, so I haven’t tested my results yet in Win XP but I think that the problem may be resolved. My Logitech revolution mouse and lenovo 1 gig memory key are working properly with no issues yet.

by endbe on March 2, 2009 at 1:47 am. Reply #

@endbe: That’s interesting man, wonder why there is a diff btw Ubuntu and Windows…? My issue is sorted, but this might be something to get more people to try Ubuntu!!! ;-)

by Gareth Knight on March 2, 2009 at 11:43 am. Reply #


ho un problema su un T40P,con le porte usb che vanno a 1.1 delle volte riprendono a funzionare per poco ma poi rivanno a bassa velocità,
fammi sapere che hai fatto di preciso!!!!!!!!

by Doomhacker on March 8, 2009 at 2:12 pm. Reply #

i have the same issue with my compaq presario sr1950nx. i purchased it in ’06 and used it frequently sometime in late 2007-early 2008 my usb ports stopped working being 13 at the time i didnt know how to fix it nor did i pursue the problem. i stopped using this particular desktop until now. ive run through all the basi steps updating bios, reinstalling drivers etc. ive tried the solutions posted such as turning off the power saving mode on my root hubs nothing has worked and i dont have any money to replace the computer at this time any help?

by robbie on March 9, 2009 at 1:25 am. Reply #

@robbie: only way to check if it’s just the on-board USB, is to get an external USB PC card, install it, and see if it works (assuming it’s a desktop – most of the folks here are using laptops). I’ve had USB ports stop working, installed a new card, and got USB back.. and it’s far cheaper than most other solutions (new motherboard, new machine!) ;-)

by Gareth Knight on March 9, 2009 at 11:13 am. Reply #

@ Gareth Knight
Well both of my usb ports stopped responding again. 1st I inserted my pcmcia usb/firewire adapter and my mouse is working again.(via the adapter) After a reboot, i entered the bios and excluded all of the usb’s from the startup choices page. Now: everything is fine again! I still think that it has something to do with the hardware trying to grab those ports for its own selfish reasons. anyways i thought i’d give you an update. I am currently running the latest version of Ubuntu exclusively on my notebook. I had to remove microsoft for the some time, Linux seems to like me better.

by endbe on March 9, 2009 at 5:31 pm. Reply #

….and we love Ubuntu ;-)

by Gareth Knight on March 9, 2009 at 5:46 pm. Reply #

I ve tested also ubuntu 8.10 and usb ports runs on 1.1

by Doomhacker on March 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm. Reply #

usb 1.1??
on 2009??
no thanks,i ve broken my laptop with my hands…
2 months,i ve read 10000000 posts about usb port 1.1 and NOTHING
no ibm…MAC or sony vaio,

by thinkpad??no thanks on March 23, 2009 at 8:54 pm. Reply #

Just an FYI regarding the iPod shuffle and USB ports – my iPod has friend not one but TWO Dell PCs (not laptops). It fried EVERY USB port on both computers. I will never ever ever buy an iPod mp3 player again….

by Michael on April 2, 2009 at 9:43 pm. Reply #

I have an IBM Thinkpad t42p since 2005, it has been a great machine for me through my University years.

I received an IPOD Shuffle, sec gen, and after a year of use, plugged it into my thinkpad, and like all before me, the computer shut down, with fried effects.

I am a displeased to say the least. My computer has been through hell already, I am always impressed with its resilience. Apple on the other hand is going to receive a complaint, if anything, to hopefully fix the problem in the future.

$60 to extend my machine’s life with a PCMCIA card is no biggy, it just stinks to shell out some more cash.

Good luck to all of you.

by guintama on April 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm. Reply #

After many attempts with alternative suggestions I booted with a Linux server and then saw all USB ports waking up again. I had to reinstall Windows on the IBM T42P to get everything back to normal ! Still fine after a year !

by Helmi on April 26, 2009 at 7:28 pm. Reply #

My IBM Thinkpad T41 that I had since 2005 just wen’t dead on me too! It happened after unplugging the power from the USB splitter that it was connected to. another laptop fried due to a USB issue. It however gives me reason to believe that the i-pod sucks more power from the USB than the maximum permissible. Any thoughts?

guintama, did you manage to fix your laptop? I can’t even see the power or battery lights.

by Clive on August 2, 2009 at 11:28 am. Reply #

i got same message “this device can perform faster”…and i thought usb was fried. But went to Device Manager in System Properties. right cllick on all usb and choose “uninstall”.

Then you choose “scan for new device” and let the windows do the job. Now you should be able to get back usb 2.0. I think the driver somehow get corrupted, in my case my wifi usb which i installed few days ago made the usb ports “error” :)

hope this helps some of you

by Oai on August 18, 2009 at 11:15 pm. Reply #

This ole has unit worked fine for ages and after burning a bunch of vids on an external, wulah no more USBs.
But still atleast i now know its an issue with the unit and none of my doing…

by oilpan on October 13, 2009 at 1:42 pm. Reply #

This worked for me!! Thanks. USB ports are back. Pav’s suggestion:

Thanks, Markus

Looks like DISABLING THE POWER SAVE MODE of the USB HUB DEVICE in the Hardware Management
worked for me!

I’m happy now!

Here are the steps:
1) open Device Manager (Control Panel -> System -> Hardware -> Device Manager
2) open Properties for USB Root Hub
3) go to Power Management tab
4) uncheck “Allow the computer to turn off…”
5) repeat steps 2-4 for each USB Root Hub

It helped me.


by marc on January 16, 2010 at 6:17 pm. Reply #

It happened at my IBM R51 too. After connecting a small MP3-player the ports are burned.
There’s still ‘power’ on the ports, because when I plug-in a mouse the led is burning, but the device isn;t recognized by windows (XP, Vista, 7) neither by Ubuntu (9.10 LiveBoot).
I’ve tried everything in the BIOS, and also the idea above, with no luck. Also updated the BIOS to latest version.
Bought an PCMCIA usb card, this one is recognized fine, but the USB ports are acting the same way as the build in. I can connect devices, there’s power, but the devices are not recognized/installed by the OS. This is really strange, as in my eyes the USB hub on the mainboard is ‘burned’ or something, but this should not affect the PCMCIA card… or am I wrong?

I’m desperate, also can’t find the chip on the mainboard which could be replaced (if this is possible i’ll do this)

by Tim on February 9, 2010 at 11:34 pm. Reply #

Yea have you tried to go into the Device Manager (Go to control Panel and click on system, go under the hardware tab and then click device manager) and then going to the other devices tab and then look for any devices under that tab that have a yellow exclamation point which is within the yellow question mark / the exclamation point is smaller than the question mark. For any of those under this tab, open whichever one and then press the reinstall driver. Then a window will pop up, Can windows connect to windows update to search for this software, press yes this time only. Then click “Install from a list or specific location (Advanced)”. Then click on Don’t search, I will choose the driver to install. Then a big list with devices will come up and just click next and then it usually/automatically finds the driver it needs. Once it does, press next and it should start installing. If it doesn’t I don’t know, but if it does…. =D good luck

by Kris on February 22, 2010 at 6:56 am. Reply #

Turns out that after the first incident, and about 4 years later, my USB ports seem to be fried again (on Ubuntu)… so will check it out and see what gives! ;-(

by Gareth Knight on February 22, 2010 at 9:34 am. Reply #

My T41 USB ports have been unstable for years. Mouse, keyboard and webcam are fine with the ports. Just plug and play.
However, for storage devices, USB ports turns to be very annoying:
– I have two thumbdrive 1G USB 1.1 and 2G USB 2.0. The first is not recognized although plug-in detected. The second, initially also unrecognized but now it works. So far so good.
– My WD 250 passbook (USB-based self power) does not work with both USB ports although it powers up (light’s up but driver is unrecognizable)
– USB ports worked with my Canon PowerShot A520 properly.

One day, WHILE I run a USB test software (don’t remember the software name but you can find some in and did default tests. Suddenly I found that the USB ports both worked properly. I even watched movies from my portable WD. Surely the thumbdrivers both worked that time.
I quit the USB test software and the ports turn back to unstable working condition.

My questions are:
– if the USB ports on my T41 only work with USB devices that requires external power, why my thumb drives one works, one does not.
– I hope my T41’s mainboard still works fine as warranty is over. However, I doubt that the bad condition is from hardware. Will try to update (had been updating at least twice) the driver again as suggested in here.

Anyway, thanks for all posting suggestions.

by Le HT on February 24, 2010 at 9:34 am. Reply #

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