Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Workaround: ThinkPad docking station USB ports fail after dock

My current work PC is a Lenovo ThinkPad T530 running Windows 7.  I’m using it with a Lenovo ThinkPad docking station, the “Thinkpad Mini Dock Plus Series 3 with USB 3.0”. 

Occasionally, when I re-dock the PC, some or all of the USB 2.0 ports in the docking station do not “turn on” and work properly.   This most obviously manifests in my USB keyboard and/or mouse plugged into the docking station not working.  The keyboard’s indicator lights (Num Lock / Caps Lock / Scroll Lock) won’t turn on, and the red laser light on the underside of the mouse doesn’t come on.

Removing and re-inserting the keyboard and mouse USB cables into the docking station does not fix the issue.

The workaround that I found that does work (under Windows 7) is as follows:

  1. Open Device Manager.  (From the Start menu’s Run field, type “device manager” and press Enter.  Obviously, use the laptop’s onboard keyboard and mouse if the external keyboard and mouse aren’t working.)
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the Device Manager window, and click on “Universal Serial Bus Controllers” to expand it.
  3. Right-click on the first entry in the expanded list named “USB Root Hub,” and select Disable from the context menu.
  4. Right-click once again on that same “USB Root Hub” entry, and select Enable from the context menu.

If it works, the list of items under “Universal Serial Bus controllers” should refresh, and you should see some additional items in the list.  The USB ports on the docking station and devices connected to them should be working once again.

I’ve never had the single USB 3.0 port on the docking station fail to work in this way, so another workaround might be to attach an external USB hub to that port, and plug all external USB devices into the hub.

I did try replacing the docking station with another copy of the same model, but the intermittent issue persisted, so the issue appears to be with the PC software or hardware itself, not with the docking station alone.

This workaround is inconvenient, but it beats rebooting!  Let me know if you know of a better workaround or a fix.

20 comments:

  1. it works. Thanks

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  2. Worked for me too! Thanks. haven't found another way yet...

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  3. This worked - thanks for the help

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  4. Thank you for working out a fix..just did it and it worked like a charm!

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  5. There is no power between my Thinkpad and docking station. There is power to the docking station and my Thinkpad works fine off the docking station. Computer is out of warranty. Lenovo was not helpful. Wondering how I might figure out what the problem is so I can then consider my options.

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  6. Has anyone found a work-around for external dual monitor SOUND since the ThinkPad Mini Dock Plus Series 3 does NOT include an audio port?

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  7. We have this issue intermittently for a number of users, and looking for less a workaround (although they're always handy in the short term) and more a permanent fix. Has anyone managed to find one?

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  8. It works :) many thanks.

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  9. For me, what ended up working from the Device Manager screen was disabling / enabling the USB 2.0 Hub entry.
    I had two Root Hub entries, disabled and enabled both to no effect.
    But the 2.0 Hub entry had a Yellow warning icon attached at first, but gone after I re-enabled it.
    THANKS a big bunch for pointing me in the right direction.

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  10. It is really working :) thanks for sharing.

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  11. Just a slightly quicker shortcut, what worked for me is "scan for hardware changes" in the right click context menu.

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  12. Thank you. This worked for me!!

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  13. Having the same issue here with all of my Lenovo T440's and T 450's using the ThinkPad Basic Docking Station. When re-docking or switching users the Keyboard and the Mouse lose their connectivity to the PC. I can unplug and re plug the KB and MS but being IT Desktop Support that is not the answer I want to give nor is it what my users want to hear. I will try the rescan of the BUS or disable/enable to see if the refreshed drivers will discontinue this Pain in the A$$ Oopppsie of Lenovo. There is an under lying theme when the Chinese buy American Companies and attempt to make them more profitable and that is many great American inventions and work turn to JUNK.

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  14. I have just tried this method and the ports are still turned off. I tried to disable/enable some of the other USB items on the list but nothing has worked so far. One thing I've noticed is that if I disable/enable "USB 3.0 Hub" the port turns on for about 5 seconds them shuts back off. I know this because I have my phone plugged in so when the port becomes active it vibrates.

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  15. This problem just occurred for me now, between a Lenovo ThinkPad W500 and Advanced Mini-Dock station. The USB ports and the Ethernet port stopped working. It happened while removing the W500 from the dock and then inserting the W500 back into the dock.

    Turns out that it was a mechanical docking problem that I had never noticed before. My W500 has a non-Lenovo brand 9-cell high-capacity battery that sticks out in the back. While the battery does fit into the W500 and works properly, it never "felt" like a proper fit in the docking station.

    I removed the 9-cell Li-Ion battery, re-inserted the W500 into the dock, felt a solid lock with the dock, powered on, booted into Win07 and all ports on the dock were working again.

    I also noticed that with the 9-cell battery installed in the W500, and the W500 in the dock, I lifted the W500 with attached dock off the table a few centimeters and the dock fell off.

    With the 9-cell battery removed from the W500, and the W500 firmly seated and locked in the dock, I lifted the W500 with attached dock off the table a few centimeters and the dock remained solidly attached.

    If you find that you have to play with Control Panel-->Device Manager because of missing drivers, then the problem may be a mechanical fit issue between the ThinkPad and the docking station resulting in good power but no mechanical and electrical path to the dock's ports.

    I need to purchase a proper Lenovo 9-cell battery and verify this mechanical fit issue.

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  16. I had this issue for a long time, and found a different solution. Before inserting the laptop into the docking station, unplug the docking station power, then plug it back in. After docking, I have no issues anymore with intermittent USB ports being unavailable. For me, this is quicker than any of the above solutions, because none of them work for me permanently. I think there is a hardware issue with the docking station, and power cycling it fixes the glitch.

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  17. it worked for me, thanks. Also I'll try Chris's solution next time :)

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  18. It worked like a charm. Thanks for your post :)

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  19. You know an accountant's job! In this computerized world now we need to preserve every information using technology and a simple mistake in information can ruin both my and the company's life.So I use best office mouse for efficiency,accuracy and security to input the right info.

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  20. Yeah, I've tried many solutions only to find that the one suggested by Chris works great. Thanks

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