Microsoft changed what happens when you plug in USB drives recently so it is entirely proper to hear a ding and nothing happen on screen. You can then open Explorer to look over the drive.
However a 2009 laptop can have issues beyond that change. USB ports can get worn and blown which repair is far too expensive to consider.
A mouse is often a simpler slower USB 1.x speed and is not a good test of the system.
The clue it could be software is the shut off and a dozen plug ins. Restoring the PC to it's factory condition is an option if you are not a Windows expert. That is, the cause is rarely the same so the cure is never given with the story so far.
If you are good at Windows then you can supply a Hijackthis Log in a reply for me to look over for possible causes.
I have a Toshiba Satellite from 2009. I've been putting up with this weird problem now for awhile:
After I initially boot the laptop, 9 times out of 10, if I try to insert my USB drive, it will not recognize it. It makes the little noise that I guess means "something was connected", but it will not automatically open and it doesn't show up in My Computer.
I have to unplug and re-insert the flash drive several times (as many as 10-12 times) before it FINALLY recognizes the drive.
After that, until the laptop is shut off again, each time I re-insert the flash drive, it's recognized immediately.
This oddly doesn't happen with my USB mouse. That always gets recognized immediately. Odd thing is, even after the mouse gets recognized, if I try to plug in the flash drive, the laptop still does not recognize the flash drive, even though it's obvious the USB port itself is working (since the mouse was detected).
I've had about 3 different flash drives so far and they all exhibit this weird behavior.