Your BlackBerry has a USB port for connecting to a computer for use with Desktop Manager or in Mass Storage Mode. When USB problems occur, here are examples of error messages you may see:
- Computer doesn’t detect or recognize device (i.e., your BlackBerry)
- USB Device Not Recognized. One of the USB Devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and Windows does not recognize it.
- Your USB port is not supplying enough power to charge efficiently. Check your connection and drivers.
- Desktop Manager (DM) doesn’t detect device
- Device connected (PIN): None
- Media Manager (in DM) doesn’t detect device
- There is no device connected. Please connect your device in order to view its contents.
In this article, I grapple with a type of problem that is among the most frustrating you can have, and one that is among the most difficult to troubleshoot and correct. But if you think you have this problem, let’s get started…
I’ve been doing this blog long enough to know that certain articles will generate lots of pleas for additional assistance. Well, the primary purpose of this site is to help BlackBerry owners, especially first-time BlackBerry owners or owners of a new BlackBerry model. So, I’m not complaining. However, some problems are extremely difficult to solve by exchanging blog comments or emails–and this article is about one of those kinds of problems. If you do need additional assistance and request my help via a comment below or via email, please understand that I can only do so much. This article is my most valiant attempt to help. But having said that, don’t hesitate to ask a question–just be aware that you will have to do the lion’s share of work on your end. But if I did my job right with this article, your work will be reduced.
For you Mac users, who use PocketMac instead of Desktop Manager with your BlackBerry, I have to confess that this article is written with Windows in mind. In most cases, you can simply substitute “PocketMac” for “Desktop Manager” and the content of the article is still very applicable. If I can manage to compose a separate article for Apple- and PocketMac-specific issues with USB, I will do that in the future.
Symptoms of USB Problems
How do you even know if your problem is USB-related? A strong clue is when you connect your BlackBerry to a computer using a USB cable, and something doesn’t work correctly, and you see a message that generally suggests:
- BlackBerry not detected by computer
- BlackBerry detected but not recognized
- BlackBerry detected by computer but not Desktop Manager
Some common error messages you might see include:
- Windows message: USB Device Not Recognized. One of the USB Devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and Windows does not recognize it.
- Desktop Manager message: Device connected (PIN): None
- Desktop Manager’s Media Manager message: There is no device connected. Please connect your device in order to view its contents.
- Windows message: Your USB port is not supplying enough power to charge efficiently. Check your connection and drivers.
- Windows icon: a yellow triangle with an exclamation point, associated with something related to USB (see the image at the beginning of this article)
If you don’t notice an error message, you might experience problems like these:
- You can’t get any Desktop Manager functions (that require the BlackBerry to respond) to work.
- You plug in the USB cable to your computer and BlackBerry and you get no feedback (e.g., audible, pop-up information balloon, system tray icon) that the USB connection was made.
- You can’t access your BlackBerry’s media card from your computer (perhaps when you’re trying to copy some media files from your computer to your BlackBerry).
An Aside: A Change to BlackBerry USB
When I purchased my BlackBerry Storm, I was annoyed to discover that it used a different USB connector on the BlackBerry end of the USB cable, as well as on the house and car charger cables.
Below is the mini-USB connector (plug) used on the Pearl, Curve, and Bold:
Below is the micro-USB connector (plug) used on the Storm.
If your USB problem is that your cable simply won’t connect, make sure you don’t have a mismatch in your USB cable or charger plug and your BlackBerry USB receptacle.
Be aware that in the world of mobile phones–not just BlackBerry, a change is coming: USB connectors will be drifting away from mini-USB toward micro-USB.
Possible Causes of USB Problems
Let’s cover some possible causes of USB-related problems:
Problem is with your computer
1. USB device driver
Probably the most common cause of USB problems between computer and BlackBerry involves the USB device driver. This driver is a small program that allows the computer to “talk to” the BlackBerry through the USB port. The driver can be:
- Missing (never installed, or accidentally uninstalled)
- Improperly installed
- Wrong version (e.g., old version, incompatible version)
- Temporarily malfunctioning
- Permanently corrupted
2. USB port on connector is defective
The USB port hardware on the computer can be defective:
- Permanently damaged
- Temporarily malfunctioning
- USB port built into computer monitor is not connected to the desktop computer
- USB port not enabled in computer BIOS
Problem is with your USB cable
Your USB cable (please take note of the previous section about different USB connectors on different models of BlackBerry) can be defective:
- Permanently damaged (e.g., broken wire or pin; bent electrical contacts)
- Not properly connected (e.g., plug not fully inserted into receptacle)
- A cable adapter being used is damaged or not properly connected (e.g., a mini-to-micro USB adapter)
Problem is with a USB hub you’re using
If you are using a USB hub, say, to compensate for a shortage of USB ports on your computer, the hub may be interfering:
- Hub may be defective
- Hub may be poorly designed and incapable of reliable operation (this is unfortunately quite common)
- Electrical connection of hub to computer, or BlackBerry USB cable to hub, may be loose (e.g., plug not fully inserted into receptacle)
Problem is with a BlackBerry docking station or charging cradle you’re using
If you use a docking station or charging cradle with your BlackBerry, and that unit connects via USB to your computer, then that unit may be at fault:
- Station or cradle may be defective
- Electrical connection of station/cradle to computer, or BlackBerry to station/cradle, may be loose (e.g., plug not fully inserted into receptacle)
Problem is with your BlackBerry
Your BlackBerry USB port may be defective:
- USB port hardware is damaged
- USB port software is temporarily malfunctioning
- USB port software is corrupted
Problem is with Desktop Manager software
It’s possible that your Desktop Manager software is at fault:
- Not set for USB connection (e.g., set for Bluetooth)
- Improperly installed or corrupted
Problem is with Desktop Manager’s Media Manager or Media Sync
This is essentially the same as a problem with Desktop Manager–the Media Manager and/or Media Sync programs are improperly installed or corrupted. But it may be that these are the only functions of Desktop Manager that are adversely affected.
Problem is You
Well, it happens. Sometimes we just make an honest mistake. Here’s one that could easily happen to any of us, if you have an optional Media Card installed in your BlackBerry: When you connect your phone to your PC, when the question comes up “do you want to turn on mass storage device?” are you answering “Yes” or “No”? If you answer yes, then your PC is going to see your phone as an external/removable hard drive, and Desktop Manager will not recognize the phone. You have to answer “No” to mass storage in order for your Desktop Manager to recognize your phone.
USB Problems and Media Cards
One reason to connect your BlackBerry and computer via USB is to get access to your optional Media Card, typically to copy new media files to the card, or manage the files you already have there.
What may seem to be a USB problem might actually be a problem with your Media Card:
- Media card is not installed (but you thought it was)
- Media card is not installed properly
- Media card type is not supported (e.g., SDHC on pre-Storm models)
- Media card is defective
- Media card is corrupted
- Media file types are unsupported
- Media card and media files are OK, but you haven’t allowed time for your BlackBerry to scan the card for file updates, so the files seem to be missing
- When you connect your phone to your PC, when the question comes up “do you want to turn on mass storage device?” are you answering “Yes” or “No”? If you answer yes, then your PC is going to see your phone as an external/removable hard drive, and Desktop Manager will not recognize the device. You have to answer “No” to mass storage in order for your Desktop Manager to recognize it.
OK, time to get our hands dirty…
It always pays to work smart. Here are some principles to observe during troubleshooting complex, high-technology problems:
- Try easy fixes first, even if they seem unlikely. For example:
- Eliminate any unnecessary USB hub, docking station, charging cradle, cable extension, or cable adapter if you’re using one.
- If you’re connecting to a USB port on your desktop computer monitor, instead use a USB port on your computer.
- Inspect your USB plugs and receptacles for damage.
- Remove and reconnect your USB cable firmly but carefully.
- Assume that there is a temporary hardware or software problem: reboot your computer, and reset your phone (using a battery pull: with power on your phone, remove the battery, wait several seconds, replace the battery, wait for the phone to recover).
- If you can replace any piece of the puzzle easily, try that.
- Try another USB cable.
- Try a different USB port on the same computer.
- Try another USB device, such as a USB flash drive to see if computer’s USB port is working.
- Try another BlackBerry (if you’re crazy like me and own more than one).
- Try another computer (OK, this might not be so easy since you have to install the BlackBerry software on the computer–but it’s not that difficult, just time-consuming).
- Use process of elimination:
- After reading everything up to here, make a list of what seems possible as a cause of your problem.
- As best you can, rank them in order of likelihood. If that’s too difficult to decide on, rank them in order from easiest to most difficult. Maybe you’ll find an easy fix early!
- Use the information below to attempt to eliminate each possibility on the list
- Attempt to isolate the problem (some suggestions are repeats):
- Is it a temporary problem? Try rebooting the computer. Try resetting the BlackBerry (battery pull).
- Is it the cable? Try a different USB cable (or adapter).
- Is it the USB port? Try a different USB port on the computer. Try a USB flash drive to see if the port works with the drive.
- Is it the Windows Device Driver for USB? Check for a reported problem (yellow triangle icon) in Windows Device Manager. Try running Windows Device Manager diagnostics.
- Is it the version of Desktop Manager you’re using (I know this sounds strange)? Try downloading an older or newer version.
Trying to fix a device driver can be extremely frustrating. Here are some tips:
Inspecting the BlackBerry Device Driver
Unfortunately, this only works if you have a BlackBerry Device Driver installed, and your computer recognizes your BlackBerry. Using the procedure below, you can uninstall or update the device driver.
- Plug in your BlackBerry and allow a moment for it to be detected and recognized.
- Open your Windows Control Panel. Select System, then Device Manager. (There are other ways to get to the Device Manager, too.)
- Locate in the list of devices (it should be at or near the bottom) Universal Serial Bus Controllers. Expand that item by clicking the plus sign icon.
- Locate BlackBerry Smartphone (should be at or near the top).
- Right-click BlackBerry Smartphone and select Properties. See screenshot below (click image for full-size version).
Reinstalling the Device Driver
Here is a generally recommended tip: Before uninstalling and reinstalling a device driver, disconnect the device (in our case, the BlackBerry). Otherwise, during the process, Windows might attempt to reload a driver on its own, interfering with your attempt to repair the driver. In other words, install the driver before connecting the device to your computer.
Rolling Back the Device Driver
Looking back at the screenshot above (where it says “click for full-size image”), if the button for Roll Back Driver is not “faded out,” but allows you to click it, then you have an option worth considering: roll back the device driver after it has been upgraded. If your driver had been upgraded–with your knowledge or not–then a “downgrade” of your driver might resolve your problem. It’s definitely worth a try.
How Others Have Corrected USB Problems
I scoured (searched) a number of popular BlackBerry forums to see what USB problems have been reported and how they were fixed. Here is a summary of what (little) I found:
|BlackBerry detected by computer but not recognized by computer||Uninstalled Desktop Manager. Reinstalled older version of Desktop Manager without Roxio Media Manager.
What probably worked here was actually uninstalling the USB device driver (along with DM) and reinstalling a different version of the driver.
|Computer detected and recognized BlackBerry but Desktop Manager reported “no device connected.”||Reinstalled USB driver.|
|Windows Vista could not recognize USB device.||Did Windows Update with BlackBerry connected. Windows found an optional RIM driver update.
I’m not sure having the BlackBerry connected was important or not.
|BlackBerry not detected by computer.||Was using a USB hub. Removed the hub and connected the BlackBerry directly into the computer using only a USB cable.|
|BlackBerry not detected by computer.||Replaced USB cable.
Can’t tell if the cable was bad or simply not connected securely.
|BlackBerry was never detected or recognized. Nothing tried worked.||Returned BlackBerry and had it replaced under warranty.
We’ll never know for sure what was really wrong with this person’s phone.
|USB was working fine before I put my Vista computer into standby, sleep, or hibernation, but not after I awakened the computer.||Restarted computer.
This is a known Vista problem.
|FUTURE||I’ll try to keep adding solutions as I learn about them. Kelly|
For detailed instructions on troubleshooting and correcting problems with the BlackBerry related to USB, device drivers, and Desktop Manager, explore the links below:
- Microsoft Help and Support: Advanced troubleshooting tips for general USB problems in Windows XP
- Microsoft Help and Support: How to manage devices in Windows XP (Windows XP)
- Microsoft Help and Support: USB port may stop working after you remove or insert a USB device (Windows XP)
- Microsoft Help and Support: Troubleshooting Device Conflicts with Device Manager (Windows XP)
- Windows Help and How-to: Tips for Solving Problems with USB Devices (Windows Vista)
- Windows Hardware Developer Central: USB FAQ–Introductory Level
- Windows Hardware Developer Central: USB FAQ–Intermediate Level
BlackBerry Desktop Manager-specific links
- BBrepairshop.com (BlackBerry USB port repair)
Device Driver-specific links
- DriverAgent.com (help for driver problems)
- 5StarSupport.com: Windows Device Manager
- PinStack.com: BlackBerry Desktop and Device Software Download Sites
I might have been naïve to think one article could provide a solution to all the things that could go wrong when USB isn’t working correctly. Rather than attempting to give detailed directions for every possibility, what I’ve tried to provide are:
- A tutorial on the symptoms and causes
- Some general troubleshooting advice
- Links to detailed instructions for various causes
I wish you the best getting your problem solved. Be patient! Ask me for help if you follow my advice and get stumped–I’ll do my best.
- Use Bluetooth to Backup, Restore, or Synchronize Your BlackBerry (alternative to USB for limited purposes)