Frequently Asked Questions
USBcheck is a testing device that enables you to test the power wiring on USB ports. It indicates if there is power, if the polarity is correct and helps detect intermittent power problems on the contacts or connections.
In order to understand this part, we will explain a little about “external” USB ports. External USB ports are those ports that exist on the front, side or rear of your computer case and are connected to the motherboard via a cable. Each port requires 4 or 5 wires connected to a header connector on the motherboard as shown below:
1 5 Volt
2 Data (-)
3 Data (+)
5 Shield (if available)
Each wire must be connected to the corresponding pin on the header. (This information is provided in the motherboard´s manual).
The problem is that many PC cases, motherboards or other equipment do not have a “keyed” connector to prevent wiring it incorrectly. It is very easy to make a mistake, especially when the header is located in a hard to reach area.
The worst case is when the +5V wire is swapped with the Ground wire (common with the 4 Pin connector) resulting in Reversed Polarity.
In this situation, if you connect a USB device to the corresponding USB port, most likely will result in permanent damage to the device or even your motherboard, depending on the type of device you connected.
Here are some examples with Reverse Polarity:
You connect a small device (powered from the USB port) like a Flash (Pen) drive, external Hard Drive 2.5″ or Webcam, the device will get damaged and you loose all your files in case of a memory device or External Drive 2.5″.
Since you don´t know exactly what happen, (likely) you will get another USB device to try [human nature] and guess what? You just caused more damage!!! (Read this story on Tom’s Hardware)
In some computer’s case you don’t need to plug in any device to cause damage. If one of the 4 pin connectors is connected correctly and another incorrectly, it may cause damage to the motherboard if the USB ports on the case have a shared ground, creating a short between 5V and Ground:
This is where the USBcheck tester comes in. In the past to test the USB ports you would have to open the case and physically verify the connections or plug-in a USB device (Flash/Pen drive, External Hard Drive, MP3 player, etc) and risk damaging it. Not any more… you can now use USBcheck tester.
Yes. It will work with USB ports up to Version 3.0. To test Mini USB or Micro USB is possible with the correct adapter. It may work with future versions (V3.1 ?) with the correct adapter cable.
Yes, it does not care about the operating system.
No, after you test the port with the USBcheck tester, you need to plug-in a USB device (follow the manufacturer’s instructions) or use other test equipment designed for that purpose.
With the computer/equipment turned on:
Connect the USBcheck tester in a USB port. Look at the light emitted:
GREEN Light – Power present and polaity correct
RED Light – Warning – POLARITY REVERSED (Do not use this port until problem corrected)
Both Lights OFF – NO Power or Short between 5V and Ground (verify the wiring and Motherboard)
RED & GREEN Light [may flicker] – A/C Present
– More common on power adapters or phone chargers with a USB port (Do not use this port until problem corrected)
Test for BAD or INTERMITTENT power connections
Connect the USBcheck tester to the USB port to test):
If the GREEN light flickers ON/OFF:
While you GENTLY wiggle the USBcheck tester from side to side and up/down motion – Bad connection on the contacts or solder joints on the USB connector.
While you wiggle the cables connecting to the USB Port – Bad cable of bad connection at the header on the Motherboard. This test is very useful for Laptop / Netbook Computers or other equipment where the USB port is soldered directly on to the main board.
IT Professionals & Technicians:
– When building new systems test the USB ports power/polarity before plugging in any other USB device, as part of your quality control.
– If you use USB Flash drives (Pen), External USB Hard Drives or other USB devices when repairing PC’s, test the USB port before connecting your devices.
– Learning how to repair or assemble PC’s ? This tool is ideal for inexperienced technicians as it provides that first test before you plug-in a USB device and risk causing damage.
– Supply one to every technician in your service department. If you build PC’s, incorporate this test as part of your quality control. This will allow the technicians to test the USB ports of computers coming in for repair thus reducing the chance of damaging the USB devices used in your shop.
– Test the USB ports of your newly purchased or repaired desktop PC.
– If you like to build your own systems but have trouble connecting the USB cables to the motherboard header.
– If you use your USB devices in Internet Café’s, Libraries, Schools or someone else’s computer always test the USB port with the USBcheck if you want to be sure.
Other equipment with USB Ports:
(Vehicles, Medical, Multimedia, Test Equipment, Power adapters with USB port and many more)
USB Ports are everywhere…
– USBcheck provides the fastest way to verify the power lines on the USB ports avoiding hours of troubleshooting and the frustration that comes with it ! It can be used at many levels: Manufacturing, Assembly, Quality Control, Repairs, Troubleshooting, etc…
USBcheck tester offers you peace of mind, when it comes to using USB devices…
Learn more about USB ports & Power Problems in USB ports:
Tom’s Hardware – (Posted by a user) “I do the whole ‘human nature’ thing and plug in my only two external USB hard drives, the second containing literally EVERYTHING. 13 years of work basically, completely irreplaceable data. “
Tom’s Hardware – (Posted by a user) “USB port FRIED 5 devices”
Directron – How to Install Front USB by Connecting Front USB Ports to a Motherboard?
HowStuffWorks – USB Ports
USBman (no longer online) “Improperly wiring a USB port can result in permanent and fatal damage to the motherboard, the USB port and ANY peripheral connected to the motherboard.”
(This site no longer exists – The link goes to an archive)