Front side USB ports going bad?

Hello. I have a Dell T3400 workstation I use to edit video. Lately it seems like when I go to plug in a DVD burner, or an SDHC or CF card reader, about half the time it will not pick up the device. However, when I plug these devices into other machines, they pick up just fine.

I plugged my card reader into the back USB ports just now, and it picked up. I have not tested it extensively, but are my USB ports maybe going bad? Is there some way to test them conclusively? And what should I do? If they are bad, is there some way to repair them, short of swapping out the motherboard? Because other than that, it still serves the purpose.

Thanks in advance.
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  1. Best answer
    Well, USB connections are a physical connection and, as with everything, prone to wear. They should last you a fair bit, but they can wear out.

    Your front USB ports are connected with a simple cable to your motherboard, the cable or the connection to your motherboard are not likely to have developed an error all of a sudden.
    Now, as far as I can see the T3400 comes with the front USB connection installed into the bodywork so removing that will be troublesome. Instead you can buy a front side USB panel thing from your local computer store and install it in one of your free front slots (google image shows me one with just a CD-drive installed which means there is 1 free 5.25 and 2 free 3.5 panels you can replace). Front side USB panel thingies retail for less than 20 bucks, I think.

    Open the computer (unplug etc first)
    Push out an unused front panel and fit in the new front-usb panel thingy.
    Trace the cable of the faulty front-usb port to the motherboard and disconnect, use the same connection (so pay attention when disconnecting) and connect your new front usb panel thingy.
    Tie back cable of broken front usb thing to avoid entangling.

    Front usb-thingies usually come with front audio connections as well, connect them with the same method or let them be, whatever suits you. You may want to check out your motherboard manual for a map of connections on your motherboard.

    Front USB thingy is what IT professionals use to refer to these things you know.
  2. >> Front USB thingy is what IT professionals use to refer to these things you know.

    Ha hah, ok.

    So basically, find some spare parts, and swap out the front USB ports?

    Or maybe get a powered hub, and put it into the back of the machine (where everything still works)?
  3. Yeah, that works.

    Not as cool though.
    I have a dog and my computer is at the top of a (very stable) bookcase. Coz of hairs and stuff. My case came with 2 front USB plugs and that's awesome.
    But I have a hub next to me to actually connect stuff to.
  4. Best answer selected by nazareneisrael.
  5. Yeah, I don't have any animals, unless you count the deer that mangle the trees and my garden. So I could do the powered hub thing, but if I can find the parts for not too much money, I would prefer to maintain the original configuration. Thanks.
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