Troubleshooting USB

In an obvious Freudian slip, we accidentally named our first working draft of this entire chapter Troubleshooting USB. It’s ridiculous, to be sure, but the simple fact is that working with USB often means spending lots of time troubleshooting it. In our experience and that of many of our readers, USB is the most trouble-prone technology you’ll find in a PC.

The goal of USB is transparent, Plug-N-Play connectivity to diverse external peripherals. Alas, that goal is often unrealized other than by pure luck. USB is indeed wonderful when it works as it is supposed to. You simply plug in a device and it works. Unfortunately, the reality of living with USB is that you sometimes plug in a device and it doesn’t work. Worse yet, not only does the new device not work, but your other USB peripherals may stop working. Arrrrghh.

In response to a reader query on our message board about troubleshooting USB, we said in part:

The problem with USB troubleshooting is that there are way too many degrees of freedom. Each device is a law unto itself. It’s as though when troubleshooting an automobile, one possible answer to the problem was that you’d installed Shell gasoline and Mobil oil, which in combination with your Bosch ignition and Fram fuel filter had caused your right front headlight to work intermittently, but only if you were running four Michelin tires and had a Goodyear spare.

Which pretty much sums up the frustrations of trying to troubleshoot USB using traditional ...

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