Device works on USB2 but not on USB3 - how to fix?

I've got a device that was working fine for years when connected to a USB 2.0 port on a laptop. (The device was a Tecan Infinite M200 plate reader, if that matters.) The laptop was USB 2.0 only; it was old enough to be pre-USB3.  Well, the monitor on that laptop died, so I replaced the computer with a new(ish) small form factor desktop from Dell that has a USB3 controller in it.  However, the USB device software throws an error on this machine. Tested other computers and same error.  Tecan technical support says this is because the device will only work on a pure USB2.0 controller; it will not work on a USB3 or hybrid USB2/USB3 controller, even when plugged into a USB2 port. They say it is because the plate reader "loses connection" with the USB controller and is not able to re-establish the connection. This would seem to be true, because if I restart the plate reader software, the reader is not detected until I power-cycle it or reboot the computer.

Has anyone ever seen anything like this with a USB device before? If so, do you know of a way I can fix it so the reader will work on the new computer? USB controller settings somewhere that I might play around with that could solve this?  I really don't want to replace the computer with one that I have to put a USB2.0 PCI card in (Tecan's suggestion); this system is in our lab and I don't have space for a big tower.
I_play_with_DNAAsked:
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I_play_with_DNAAuthor Commented:
I should add that the old computer, on which the reader works fine, is running Windows XP. The new computer is running Windows 7, but one of the other computers I tested (and that did not work) is running Windows XP.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Possibly try an external USB 2 hub plugged into the new computer.  Plug your device into the external USB 2 hub.  No guarantee that this will work though.  Check with Tecan support whether this would work or not.

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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
> Has anyone ever seen anything like this with a USB device before?

Yes! I know that in theory USB3 is backward compatible with USB2, but in practice, my experience is otherwise — the same as yours! I have several old devices that work fine on a USB2 port and do not work on a USB3 port.

> If so, do you know of a way I can fix it so the reader will work on the new computer?

Not for certain, but it's possible that a USB2-only hub connected to the USB3 port would pass through USB2-only to the device. If the Tecan is a high power draw device (I'm not familiar with it), then get a powered hub; if not, then a non-powered hub should be fine. There are lots to choose from at Amazon, but make sure it's a USB2-only hub.

> USB controller settings somewhere that I might play around with that could solve this?

Not that I know of.

> I really don't want to replace the computer with one that I have to put a USB2.0 PCI card in (Tecan's suggestion)

Tecan's suggestion is the only guarantee of success, but for 10 bucks or so it's worthwhile to try the USB2 hub idea.

> this system is in our lab and I don't have space for a big tower.

I doubt that you'll need a big tower. Although I haven't shopped for one, I'm guessing there are small form factor desktops and small laptops that still have at least one USB2-only port. Regards, Joe
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I_play_with_DNAAuthor Commented:
>I doubt that you'll need a big tower. Although I haven't shopped for one, I'm guessing there are small form factor desktops and small laptops that still have at least one USB2-only port.

The computer I am using has two USB2-only ports, but the controller is hybrid, so the problem occurs even when plugged into the USB2-only ports. I'll try the hub suggestion if I can find one.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
> The computer I am using has two USB2-only ports, but the controller is hybrid, so the problem occurs even when plugged into the USB2-only ports.

Interesting. I would not have anticipated that. One of my HP laptops has both USB2 and USB3 ports, and I have some devices that work fine in the USB2 ones but not in the USB3 ones.

> I'll try the hub suggestion if I can find one.

I've had very good luck with all StarTech products. Here's a powered, 4-port, USB2 hub for $15.99:
http://www.amazon.com/Port-Compact-Black-USB-2-0/dp/B000T9S4CI/

And here's an AmazonBasics non-powered, 4-port, USB2 hub for $6.10:
http://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-4-Port-USB-2-0-Ultra-Mini/dp/B003M0NURK/

Regards, Joe
nobusCommented:
a cardbus adaptor may work  better, since it is not connected to the usb 3 ports : http://www.startech.com/Cards-Adapters/USB-2/Card/2-Port-High-Speed-USB-CardBus-Adapter~CBUSB22
I_play_with_DNAAuthor Commented:
USB2 hub seems to be the solution! Used an unpowered one.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
> USB2 hub seems to be the solution! Used an unpowered one.

Glad to hear it! That was an inexpensive fix. :)
nobusCommented:
seems to be?   tthen you did not try it yet?  how can you know that's your solution then?
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