USB C is an industry-standard plug type commonly used to transmit data or power to charge something like a smartphone.
Unlike its USB A counterpart which can only transfer up to 5 watts, USB-C can support up to 100 watts making it very effective for things like powering a device while simultaneously charging it.
For many devices, it’s an essential part of its functionality. Without it, you may not be able to charge or use your device, which means that if the port suddenly stops working, it can pose a real problem!
This is why today, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of all the common causes of this issue and how you can fix it yourself with relative ease.
Why does your USB C Port Is Not Working?
One of the tricky aspects of troubleshooting a non-working USB-C port is that quite a few different issues may cause it to stop working.
First, identifying where that issue lies helps a lot in allowing us to focus on the problem and fix it, so here’s a quick rundown of all the primary reasons why your USB-C port may have stopped working. Then we’ll take a look at how to fix it.
Driver related problem
For the USB C port to work, it needs a piece of software called a “driver.” That driver issues commands and tells a piece of hardware (such as a port) how to work and communicate with your system.
All hardware requires a driver to run; they also need to be kept in working order and up to date.
So if your USB-C port is not working, one of the first places you should check is the driver.
Third-party and incompatible cables
The cable with your device is usually purpose-built to adequately charge that specific device.
As different cables have different power limits, some do not support USB power delivery, and others may be incompatible with your device.
You will have trouble getting your USB C port to work in these cases. So ensuring your cable matches the specifications of the device you are trying to use is essential in allowing the port to function correctly.
Dirty or clogged port
Generally speaking, USB C ports don’t have any cover, making them susceptible to dust, dirt, and debris buildup, which may prevent a cable from correctly sitting into the port. Resulting in the faulty operation of a device.
Ensuring the port is clean and there are no obstructions that may hinder the cable from comfortably seated is also very important.
Use of an external hub or dock
While this doesn’t technically mean that the USB port is not functional, it can appear if you plug your USB C cable into the port through a multi-hub or a dock with a “pass thru” feature.
These can often not transfer the signal at a high enough power to make the original device work, so it will just look like the port is non-functional.
Wherever possible, try to plug directly into the port to ensure a clean and stable connection to the device.
Non-alternate mode support
USB Type-C has a particular feature called “Alternate Modes.” This is where if a specific USB cable has the alternate mode feature, you can connect devices that also support that alternate mode.
A simple example is a USB-C cable with an alternate thunderbolt mode, which is compatible with thunderbolt devices.
This is an automatic feature and not one you can turn on or off. However, if your computer does not support this particular mode, it will render the port non-functional when using it with an alternate mode device.
Sometimes a driver update may open up support for this feature, or you may have to accept that you cannot use those devices with that port.
Unfortunately, USB Type-C is not universal, and not all device combinations work. For example, a Windows PC will connect to a Windows phone via USB-C. But you cannot connect two Windows PCs or two Windows phones.
Identifying whether the devices you are connecting are compatible with each other is important because if they are not, it may appear that your port is not working.
Power saving and the “Selective Suspend” feature
Windows machines, particularly laptops, can put a big emphasis on power-saving plans, which is where it will try to conserve battery life by disabling unnecessary programs and features.
Within these power setting is an option called “Selective Suspend,” which can disable USB ports in the interest of saving power.
You may find that this opinion is unknowingly enabled and prevents your USB C port from working.
Windows not updated
Sometimes Windows can run into bugs or glitches that affect the system’s performance. Ensuring your machine is up to date can, in some rare circumstances, fix a USB performance problem.
Physically damaged port
If you travel a lot with your device, sometimes the port itself can become damaged, particularly if something plugged into it accidentally gets knocked, putting torque on the USB port itself.
Small and relatively fragile connections hold these; if one is knocked loose, the port will no longer be functional.
In this case, the port will need to be repaired.
How to fix a non-working USB C port
As you can see, several potential causes may result in your USB C port not responding.
Fortunately, it’s pretty rare for a USB port to fail or become damaged. In most cases, with some good software-based troubleshooting, we can get things back in working order.
Here’s how you can go about fixing your USB C port problem.
Update/reinstall USB C Drivers
A USB port’s drivers are pivotal to its functionality. So making sure they are up to date can often resolve USB-related port issues and ensure optimum performance.
To ensure the cleanest possible install, we first want to remove the old drivers before downloading and installing the updated ones. This is because installing over already bad drivers might not solve the issue.
Here’s how to firstly remove the old USB C driver:
- Select the Start menu, and under the search function, type in “device manager,” and open the device manager from the generated list.
- The devices on your machine are listed in alphabetical order, and we are looking for USB or Universal Serial Bus controllers. Expand that tab.
- Right-click on the relevant USB-C port causing an issue, and you will be given the option to uninstall the device. Click that and follow through with the prompts until it has been completely removed.
- If you are not interested in performing a “clean” install, you can click ‘”Update driver” at this stage to update the driver immediately.
Now that the old driver has been removed, we need to open up Windows Update, which can be found again through the start menu search function.
After running the Windows update, it will automatically scan for and download your machine’s most recent USB C driver.
Ensure the cable is compatible
When a cable comes from a third-party vendor and isn’t intended for the device you are using, you’ll often run into issues relating to the power limitations of the cable and the fact it simply may not be compatible (Apple hardware is especially notorious for this).
Where possible, try to source the intended cable for your particular device, ideally from the same manufacturer. Otherwise, you may find yourself running into issues even when the cable is functionally OK.
Clean out the USB C Port
For the USB port to function correctly, it needs to have a solid connection with the cable plugged into it. Such things as dust and debris can create a barrier, preventing a stable connection.
You can use a can of compressed air, a small, soft-bristled brush, or even blow with your mouth to help clear the port of any residual dust.
Remove any external USB hubs or docks.
Unfortunately, due to the high power demand and additional features that USB C uses, they will often not work then ‘passed through’ another device such as a dock or multi USB hub.
While this can be frustrating if you have many devices that you like to use simultaneously, it is, unfortunately, necessary if you want to ensure your USB port works properly.
Ensure all cables used are plugged directly into the port from the device, and there is no other peripheral between them.
Non-alternate mode support
The USB Type-C features an “alternate mode,” which allows cross-compatibility with other port types through USB C. This can be super convenient for just needing one port for many different devices.
The catch is that it also needs to be supported by your computer to work correctly.
The first thing to ensure is that your Windows system and all related device drivers are entirely up to date, as sometimes driver updates can introduce this functionality to ports that may initially have not supported the alternate mode feature.
If this has already been done and the port still does not work, it is recommended to stick to USB Type-C devices and not try to use any alternate methods.
Ensure correct device compatibility
There is usually an intended way in which devices are supposed to work together. So a Windows 10 phone will not have any functionality (and won’t even charge) from another Windows 10 phone, but it will connect and charge when plugged into a laptop.
Ensure that you are plugging into a compatible device. Otherwise, there will be no functionality regardless of drivers/software.
Disable the “selective suspend option.”
Specific power-saving plans will try to disable the USB C port to conserve power through the “selective suspend” feature in the Windows Power Options.
This can be frustrating as it’s not always immediately apparent that this is the culprit. So checking your power-saving options is an important step. Here’s how to do it:
- Open your keyboard and press the Windows + S key, which will open the search dialogue.
- Type in “choose a,” and it should automatically populate with the “Choose a power plan” option.
- You can select the “high performance” option to ensure your machine isn’t holding anything back.
- You can then click on the “Change plan settings” option on the right, navigate to the “USB Selective suspend settings,” and change it from “Enabled’ to Disabled.”
- Now, all your USB ports will work, even running on just the battery.
- Click Apply and then OK
In some rare circumstances, a Windows update may fix a plug or glitch preventing your USB port from working.
Type’ windows update’ on your taskbar search menu and option the windows update the app. Click the “check for updates” box near the top, and Windows will automatically scan and download any available updates for your windows machine.
Physically damaged port
Very rarely, you may also find the power has been physically damaged in some way. This could be due to a drop or the USB plug accidentally yanked while plugged in.
To check if the port has had its physical connection to the laptop damaged, you can try to touch the port lightly and see if it moves around. It should be firmly in place with minimal wiggle room when securely attached to the computer.
However, if it’s very loose and wiggles around, it may need to be reattached to the machine. We recommend simply taking it to a professional in this scenario as it’s not particularly easy to do by yourself at home.