Dead USB Port? Here’s How to Diagnose and Fix It

Ever connected a USB drive or other device into your computer, only to find later that it won’t work? There’s a good chance that the USB port has a problem. But what can you do about it? Here’s how to diagnose and fix a suspect USB port. USB Port Not Working? Give a Physical Examination Before proceeding, note that you’ll need to be sure that it is the port that is faulty, rather than the device you’re connecting. To establish which is the problem, connect the device to another USB port. If it works, then the problem is the first…

Read the full article: Dead USB Port? Here’s How to Diagnose and Fix It

Ever connected a USB drive or other device into your computer, only to find later that it won’t work? There’s a good chance that the USB port has a problem.

But what can you do about it? Here’s how to diagnose and fix a suspect USB port.

USB Port Not Working? Give a Physical Examination

Before proceeding, note that you’ll need to be sure that it is the port that is faulty, rather than the device you’re connecting.

To establish which is the problem, connect the device to another USB port. If it works, then the problem is the first port; if the device remains undetected, then you have a faulty device. If you can’t reformat the USB drive, it will need replacing.

If there’s a problem with your USB port, you’ll notice it thanks to either of these things:

  • The device fails to be detected
  • Your operating system displays an error message relating to the device (removing and replacing the device might solve this)

Either way, you should investigate the state of the USB port. Has it been damaged in any way? The safest way to find out is to shut down your PC or laptop.

Next, look at the USB port. Is it clean and dust free? If you’re using a desktop, or the USB port is at the back of a PC tower, there’s a chance that dirt, dust, and general detritus might have become embedded in the port.

Dust will reduce airflow, causing your system to overheat. It is particularly damaging to laptops, where overheating can reduce performance in seconds. Clean out the drive with a can of compressed air. A vacuum cleaner might also prove handy here.

Finally, grab a USB cable (or flash drive, whatever) and gently wiggle it around. If the drive is moving and feels loose—typically this will be up and down—then you have a problem.

Fix Broken USB Hardware

We’ll look at some software fixes in a moment, but first, what if the USB port is loose?

The ports are soldered to a board within your computer. This may be the motherboard, but is typically a secondary printed circuit board (PCB). With regular use, ports can become movable, at times completely unattached.

Often, this is down to the shape of the connected USB devices. While small Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even new USB flash memory are unlikely to put any significant strain on the port’s physical connection, older “stick” memory drives are a different story. So are USB cables. Their size and associated weight act as a sort of lever, contributing to USB ports working loose.

Replacing a USB port isn’t easy. On a desktop computer, you may be able to find a replacement board that can be slotted in without too much effort. However, if you’re using a laptop, it’s going to take a soldering iron. Here’s an example of what you might need to go through to re-solder the USB connector back into your laptop:

Of course, you could take this to an expert for repair, but there will be associated costs with this. If you want to do it yourself, make sure you know how to solder. If you’re not sure, check out the software fixes first.

Can Restarting a Computer Fix Broken USB Ports?

“Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”

This old tech support standby is well-known for a reason: it works!

With your unrecognized USB device correctly inserted into the suspect USB port, restart your computer. Once the operating system has rebooted, it should detect the USB device. If not, it’s worth looking at the device in the Windows device manager.

Check Device Manager on Windows 10

Begin by right-clicking on the Start menu and selecting Device Manager.

Open the Device Manager in Windows 10

The Device Manager lists the devices attached to your computer, grouped into categories. It’s arranged alphabetically, so you should find Universal Serial Bus controllers towards the end of the list.

Expand the list, and look for the USB Host Controller. The device you’re trying to find may have a longer title, but it will feature those three words.

Uninstall the USB host controller

No USB Host Controller? This may explain why your USB device doesn’t work. To fix this, click on the Scan for hardware changes button on the toolbar. This will commence a check of all connected hardware, and in most cases will detect the USB port and anything connected to it.

If this still hasn’t worked, it’s worth taking the time to reinstall the USB Host Controllers. Right click on the USB Host Controller items in turn, and select Uninstall on each. Wait while they’re uninstalled, then reboot your computer.

As Windows restarts, the USB Host Controllers will be automatically reinstalled. This “refresh” can help to fix problems with the USB port.

Note that if you’re using a USB mouse or one with a USB receiver, it will be disabled while the USB Host Controllers are uninstalled.

Try Disabling the USB Selective Suspend Feature

If power management settings are overriding your USB controller, this will impact the detection of devices. This is particularly relevant if you use a laptop. If you’re keen to keep power usage low, you might have set a low power option on your Windows 10 desktop.

USB Selective Suspend is a power saving setting that cuts power to the USB device, thereby reducing battery use.

The feature usually works well, but at times makes it look as if there is a problem with your USB ports.

Disable USB selective suspend

Fix this by opening the Windows Control Panel (it’s still in use… for now). This is best done by clicking Start and typing control panel. Click the corresponding result, then Hardware and Sound > Power Options. Here, click Change plan settings, then Change advanced power settings.

Here, find USB Settings and expand this to find USB selecting suspend setting. Change the drop-down menu to Disabled, then click Apply and OK to confirm. Reboot your PC to ensure this change is applied.

You’ve Fixed Your Broken USB Port!

As you can see, you have several options for repairing an unresponsive USB port. In most cases, it won’t be dead, and you’ll be able to fix it. Remember, when your USB port is not working, you need to:

  • Make a physical check
  • If necessary, make a physical repair to the port
  • Reboot Windows
  • Check the Device Manager, uninstall the USB Host Controller
  • Disable USB Selective Suspend power saving option

USB ports aren’t the only potential weak spots on your computer. Looking after your hardware will reduce potential failures, and you can save a lot of money if you know how to test your PC for failing hardware.

Read the full article: Dead USB Port? Here’s How to Diagnose and Fix It

Is It Time to Start Buying SSDs and Flash Drives?

time-buy-ssd

The price of flash drives and solid-state drives (SSDs) steadily increased over the last decade, but recently we’ve seen a change in that trend. For the first time in a while, prices are starting to go down. You can now buy new hardware for less money than ever before. But what’s causing the price decrease? Should you buy now or will prices drop still further? And which products offer the best deals today? Let’s take a look. Why Are SSDs More Expensive Than HDDs? Generally speaking, SSDs are a better product than hard disk drives (HDDs). They have access speeds that are…

Read the full article: Is It Time to Start Buying SSDs and Flash Drives?

The price of flash drives and solid-state drives (SSDs) steadily increased over the last decade, but recently we’ve seen a change in that trend. For the first time in a while, prices are starting to go down. You can now buy new hardware for less money than ever before.

But what’s causing the price decrease? Should you buy now or will prices drop still further? And which products offer the best deals today? Let’s take a look.

Why Are SSDs More Expensive Than HDDs?

Generally speaking, SSDs are a better product than hard disk drives (HDDs). They have access speeds that are nearly 100 times faster, their lack of moving parts results in better reliability, and they draw less power than HDDs. Plus, they are quieter, smaller, and cooler.

But none of that necessarily explains why SSDs are traditionally so much more expensive than their counterparts. There are a few factors that push up the price of SSDs.

1. The Manufacturing Process

SSDs are considerably more “high-tech” than their HDD counterparts. HDDs consist of a simple circuit board with a few chips, a couple of motors, and the read/write parts.

On the other hand, SSDs deploy billions of memory cells and many chips, each of which needs associated logic. Creating those cells and semiconductors is much more complex; it’s more labor-intensive and requires a far higher level of perfection.

All that combined leads to greater manufacturing costs, and thus higher retail costs.

2. Supply and Demand

Historically, consumer demand for SSDs has been considerably lower than demand for HDDs. As such, market economics dictate that manufacturers need to charge more to cover the production costs and make a profit.

The second issue is the mobile market. Lots of SSD large manufacturers have focused on making proprietary SSDs for smartphones rather than traditional 2.5-inch drives for computers.

As a result, smaller manufacturers need to pick up the slack. But thanks to favorable supplier contracts, the large SSDs have the power to stockpile the required production materials.

Consequently, smaller manufacturers making PC drives need to pay more for components, and they pass that price onto the consumer.

3. Growth of the Sector

While consumer uptake of SSDs has been slower, the enterprise-level use of SSDs and flash drives is skyrocketing.

To keep up with demand, manufacturers need to build more factories. The cost of new factories needs to be amortized, and thus is included in the retail cost of the drives.

On the other hand, the cost of making HDDs has long since been amortized by the manufacturers, leading to lower prices.

Why Is the Cost of SSDs Falling?

While SSDs do still cost more than their HDD counterparts, the costs have been falling rapidly over the last 12 to 18 months. The price of NAND flash—the type of memory used in SSDs—is expected to decrease by 10 percent per quarter starting in the third quarter of 2018.

The decline is curious. Quarter three is usually a time of rising prices, as computer and smartphone manufacturers start to stockpile products ahead of the Christmas rush.

So what’s going on? Experts think three factors are helping to force prices down:

1. Smartphone Sales

In 2018, smartphone sales have remained reasonably flat. This has led to an oversupply of NAND flash, thus driving down prices.

2. Notebook Sales

The first half of 2018 saw above-average notebook sales. As a result, demand has dropped in the second part of the year, again leading to an oversupply.

3. Server SSDs

For manufacturers, a server-grade SSD is more profitable than consumer-level SSDs. This has led to more manufacturers entering the sector, thus increasing both competition and supply. Again, these two factors help to lower prices.

All told, demand for SSDs and NAND flash memory is expected to drop 15 percent between January and December 2018, while supply grows by 45 percent.

The theory is borne out by the facts. Look at the cost of the Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD on Amazon (via CamelCamelCamel). The price has been on a steady downward trend throughout 2018. The current price is almost half of what it was in January:

camelcamelcamel cost of samsung ssd decreasing over time

Will the Price of SSDs Continue to Fall?

Now we come to the million-dollar question. If you’re in the market for an SSD, should you buy it now, or wait and see if the price goes down further?

Of course, it’s impossible to know this with 100 percent accuracy. But we can use the information available to us to make a prediction.

DRAMeXchange—one of the leading marketplaces for buying NAND flash memory—predicts that prices will continue to drop until at least mid-2019. Computer sales are traditionally slower in the first six months of the year after Christmas, while IDC thinks smartphone sales won’t pick up until after the summer.

Of course, holding off on your purchase also means some new technologies might be available by the time you get your wallet out.

In late 2017, we saw the arrival of new, higher-capacity NAND flash. During 2018, three-level (TLC) and quad-level (QLC) flash have become increasingly available at lower prices. That trend is likely to continue.

You also need to consider the continued growth (and lowering price point) of ultra-fast NVMe SSDs. They can read data four times faster than the SATA SSDs and can locate the data on the drive 10 times faster. Indeed, if you’re in the market for a new computer, you shouldn’t really consider any other form of storage media.

Our SSD Recommendations

If you want to buy a new SSD right now, which products are emblematic of the current low NAND prices?

We’ve already mentioned the Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD, but you should also consider ADATA’s ASU650SS-960GT-C SU650 3D-NAND 2.5″ SATA III drive (approximately $0.146 per GB).

Team Group’s 480GB L5 LITE 3D 2.5″ SATA III 3D NAND drive (also $0.146 per GB) and Patriot’s Burst SSD 480GB SATA III SSD ($0.150 per GB) are both good choices as well.

Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-76E1T0B/AM) Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-76E1T0B/AM) Buy Now At Amazon $187.98 ADATA ASU650SS-960GT-C SU650 960GB 3D-NAND 2.5" SATA III High Speed Read up to 520MB/s Internal Solid State Drive ADATA ASU650SS-960GT-C SU650 960GB 3D-NAND 2.5" SATA III High Speed Read up to 520MB/s Internal Solid State Drive Buy Now At Amazon $139.99 Team Group 480GB L5 LITE 3D 2.5" SATA III 3D NAND Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) T253TD480G3C101 Team Group 480GB L5 LITE 3D 2.5" SATA III 3D NAND Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) T253TD480G3C101 Buy Now At Amazon $76.98 Patriot Memory Burst SSD 480GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive 2.5" - PBU480GS25SSDR Patriot Memory Burst SSD 480GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive 2.5" - PBU480GS25SSDR Buy Now At Amazon $71.99

Learn More About Data Storage

Ultimately, current SSD NAND prices represent some of the best value-for-money that we’ve ever seen in the market. There’s no question that it’s a great time to purchase.

If you’d like to learn more about internal storage before making your decision, check out our comparisons of NAND and eMMC flash memory and PCIe vs. SATA SSDs.

Read the full article: Is It Time to Start Buying SSDs and Flash Drives?

Is Intel Optane Memory Cheap DDR3 RAM?

intel-optane-memory

Consumers and businesses always demand more power from their computers. We want more powerful processors with additional cores, better GPUs, and faster RAM, and we want it now. So when a new technology arrives on the market offering the holy grail—to make your system faster—enthusiasts and enterprises take note. Intel’s Optane memory is one of those innovations. But what is Optane? And does it mean you no longer need actual system RAM? Let’s take a look. What Is Intel Optane Memory? Optane is a new hyper-fast type of memory. The Intel “Optane” trademark refers to the specific type of memory,…

Read the full article: Is Intel Optane Memory Cheap DDR3 RAM?

intel-optane-memory

Consumers and businesses always demand more power from their computers. We want more powerful processors with additional cores, better GPUs, and faster RAM, and we want it now.

So when a new technology arrives on the market offering the holy grail—to make your system faster—enthusiasts and enterprises take note.

Intel’s Optane memory is one of those innovations. But what is Optane? And does it mean you no longer need actual system RAM? Let’s take a look.

What Is Intel Optane Memory?

Optane is a new hyper-fast type of memory. The Intel “Optane” trademark refers to the specific type of memory, rather than a format. Optane is somewhat like a super-charged SSD, albeit at a higher cost and in a less-user-friendly format. But then again, it isn’t actually an SSD, so don’t confuse the terms.

In that sense, it is probably easiest to consider Optane as the offspring of an SSD drive and some DDR4 RAM. Still with me? It will all make sense at the end by the end!

Optane began life as a specialized M.2 Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) module. It is only compatible with 7th generation Intel processors or later, plus a matching motherboard. Using a specialized 3D NAND fabrication process Intel (developed in conjunction with Micron) calls 3D XPoint, Optane memory can rapidly switch between high-resistance and low-resistance states to more efficiently access densely packed data.

Optane memory modules see use as super-powered boot drives. That is, you pair a relatively small but super-fast Optane memory module with a massive old 2TB HDD, and the latter receives a decent performance boost. But the modules can also boost your existing RAM, lend some extra capacity to your system, and feature as an actual storage location.

Intel Optane Memory Module 32 GB PCIe M.2 80mm MEMPEK1W032GAXT Intel Optane Memory Module 32 GB PCIe M.2 80mm MEMPEK1W032GAXT Buy Now At Amazon $57.96

Is Intel Optane Memory Like Cheap DDR RAM Then?

In the beginning, the answer to this question was a simple “no.” But since Optane hit consumer markets, the scene looks a little different. In fact, let’s break this question down.

Is Optane Like Regular RAM?

No, Optane is not like regular volatile RAM—and that’s the key. Regular RAM is volatile, meaning when you turn your PC off, the data held in the RAM clears. When you power on your system, the RAM fills with useful data.

Optane memory is not volatile—it retains data after you power down your system. At the time of release and indeed, up until mid-2018, Optane was not expected to feature as a complete replacement for regular RAM.

Can Optane Replace Regular RAM?

At the current time, no, it cannot. However, you can use an Optane M.2 module to give your existing RAM a boost. Check out Linus’s explanation on how this works in practice:

However, the final decision here will come down to your PC specifications. The price of actual RAM is stable, but not decreasing (and has continued increasing slightly over the past 18 months). A cheap-ish Optane memory module to boost performance is accessible, rather than spending another $200 on RAM. Still, this ignores the initial cost of the Intel 7th generation or later CPU and corresponding motherboard.

What Is Intel’s Apache Pass?

Will Intel’s Optane eventually replace regular RAM modules? Yes it will, and sooner than you think.

Intel recently packed Optane technology into a regular-sized DDR4 RAM module. The Optane DIMMs, known as Apache Pass, are primarily available in three massive flavors: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Apache Pass Optane DIMMs will initially feature in the next generation of Intel’s Xeon server range. And to be fair, it’s in those huge server environments where the blazing speed of a full Optane RAM module will make the most impact.

Unfortunately, that means Apache Pass won’t appear in your home system in the immediate future, but it isn’t too far off.

There’s another factor to consider, too. In its current guise, Intel Apache Pass offers between 30-60 drive writes per day (DWPD), up to five years. DWPD is an endurance measurement for NAND storage, informing the customer of how many times you can overwrite the drive daily before reliability issues appear.

If this sounds low, remember the size of these modules and the environment they work within.

What Can You Use Optane for Right Now?

Optane has one clear mandate: it is really fast. Faster than essentially every other memory format, at the time of writing. But what you do with your Optane memory depends on the format and how much you purchase. For instance:

  • Smaller 32GB and 64GB units can, in theory, fit a Windows 10 installation. But the former leaves little room for large updates, while both will struggle with the notorious hibernation file.
  • A 118GB M.2 Optane module will cost you several times more than a regular SSD of similar size.
  • Similarly, as Linus’s RAM test video shows above, you can boost your RAM, but regular RAM is still faster. Furthermore, you still need regular RAM. Optane doesn’t absolve an actual lack of RAM, but is potentially a cost-effective bridge until you can upgrade.
  • You can now share Optane memory module boosting with secondary drives; previously only the primary boot drive could use the extra capacity.

Intel Optane SSD 900P (480GB)

intel optane ssd 900p

Intel Optane SSD 900P Series (480GB, AIC PCIe x4, 3D XPoint) Intel Optane SSD 900P Series (480GB, AIC PCIe x4, 3D XPoint) Buy Now At Amazon $549.99

The final Optane product for your consideration is an actual SSD. The Intel Optane 900P is a 480GB NVMe SSD. This drive’s target audience is high-end performance rigs for processing, rendering, content creators, and gaming.

Like much of the rest of the Optane lineup, the demand for a dedicated 3D XPoint SSD seems low when there are other similar products at lower price points.

However, when Optane increases production and becomes more widespread, expect that situation to change. Because undoubtedly, Optane has blazing-fast potential.

Should You Buy Optane Memory Right Now?

If you have the hardware already on hand and it isn’t a financial burden, sure, give Optane a try in some capacity. Otherwise, the expensive hardware upgrade isn’t worth shelling out for, given the capacity of similar products that are also easier to use.

Read the full article: Is Intel Optane Memory Cheap DDR3 RAM?