Acer Aspire notebook USB ports randomly stop working

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my father bought my mother an Acer aspire  one 532h for christmas.  All of a sudden last weekend the USB ports stopped working in Windows.  MP3 player not recognized, USB wireless mouse stops working.  Nothing. So today I get my hands on the thing. I plug in my digital camera, boom - recognized.  mouse, not so much.  I try an MP3 player, no deal.  I unplug and plug in my camera, not recognized.  Nothing showing up in device manager.  I uninstall and reinstall every USB device in device manager (which shows everything's fine) and still no change.  However, when booting if a USB device is plugged in (i.e. the mouse) the machine just sits and won't boot (not booting to the USB drive, just sits and pauses until the device is removed).
I've  flashed the bios, I've reset the bios to factory defaults (not that my parents played with the bios, but thought what the heck).  No deal.  I did what Acer apparently calls a reset, which is pull the battery, unplug the A/C adapter, and hold the power button.  no deal.  
From what I've read, it seems to be a common thing for Acer machines (Especially netbooks) and the workaround seems to be get a usb card. Well, the netbook only has a PCMCIA express slot.  From what I've read, Acer support says send it to them, and they reinstall the OS.  From what I read, it fixes the problem for a few weeks.  The OS is Windows 7.  
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This kind of problem can happen with any system or OS, old or new. It's usually a grounding issue where the USB ports (in this case) aren't grounded properly, and usually at the end where they are accessed rather than where they connect to the computer's motherboard. I had a Thinkpad that would act really flaky and eventually stopped working at USB 2.0 speed but would still work at USB 1.0, go figure. On a tower of mine, it would hang if certain USB devices were plugged in when booting up.

This is likely a hardware issue, and could be considered a defect. If it was purchased from a local retailer like Best Buy, with a service plan you could convince them to just swap it out with another, without one maybe you could be stubborn but kind and talk to a manager... they'll usually make an exception and help you out.

Without replacement, if the laptop has more than one USB port, maybe try using just one or the other, it could be limited to just one. If not, you'll probably have to go through the proper channels with Acer and convince them it's a hardware/defect issue. They'll eventually replace it, but with any luck you won't have to send it in more than once for them to give in and do it.

A long shot would be to purchase an external USB hub, possibly with it's own power supply. Maybe that would handle the grounding initially and allow the other devices to work.

Good luck ;)
Top Expert 2013
Commented:
Here a list of things to try :
-from Device manager scan for new hardware
-in device manager>view tab, click "show hidden devices" and delete all usb entries and hidden devices,  reboot and test
-then you can download the latest drivers for the chipset, and reinstall it to update the USB root hubs
-start>run>diskmgmt.msc      check if the usb devices show up in disk management, then run :   start>run>services.msc
In the listing look for removable storage service.
If it is set to Auto, and not started, then start it : click the Start link in the top left...
-In c:\windows\inf, look for usbstor.inf    -  If it is not there, you can copy it from another PC..When you find it, right click it and select Install

***instead of view hidden devices, try:
Right click Computer > Properties > Advanced System Settings at the left side > 
in the Advanced tab select Environment Variables >
 in System Variables click New and enter:  "devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices" without the parenthesis - enter 1 for the Value.
Click Ok and Exit.
Now delete all devices in device manager  that are not in solid black
Reboot and test
You can buy USB adapters for the EC interface, in case you didn't know that. I researched it a bit to verify, and oddly they leave the ExpressCard out of the documentation for the most part, but I see it present in pictures and such. If you're sure it has one, they do make USB cards for that interface for around $30.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16839200016&cm_re=expresscard_usb-_-39-200-016-_-Product

The ExpressCard is also located on the same board as the other ports along that side. The only bad outcome I see possible would be that the USB problems are related to the board itself, but honestly I doubt it. I'd suggest going this route, it would solve your problem and involve no waiting while your computer is out for service.

FYI, the multifunction board with all the ports and interfaces along that side of the netbook is available for purchase, although installing it might be outside of your expertise. It costs around $55, so depending on what a repair place would charge to install it, you might keep that in mind as a last resort!

Hope this helps you out!

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Commented:
uninstalling all usb in device manager, and rebooting works.  If you plug something in the one port it screws things up, but i just told them to avoid that.  thanks for the help.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
tx for feedback

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