Windows Vista forum


USB ports and problems with mouse and keyboard locking up

by ZacharyBaughman / December 14, 2011 1:59 AM PST

I am using a Dell Studio XPS 435MT running Windows Vista. A bit of background first. I had been having some problems with some external usb drives not being recognized, so I would go into the device manager and uninstall the drives, restart the computer, and the drives would then show up and work just fine until the computer was shut down. I would go through this cycle every so often and everything would work fine, albeit with the long run around of uninstalling and restarting. Yesterday though, upon starting the computer in the morning, my wireless mouse and keyboard would not work on the Vista login. The pointer was there, but neither the mouse or keyboard would make it move. I replaced the batteries in both and still nothing. Restarted in safe mode and nothing. I can get into the system recovery and use the mouse and keyboard, but upon doing both startup repairs and system restores, the mouse and keyboard STILL won't work on the login page. I read about using the command prompt devmgmt.msc, but when trying that I get an error that reads, "'devmgmt.msc' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file." Any suggestions on what to do? Many thanks!!!

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All Answers

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It's hardware or that new malware.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 14, 2011 2:06 AM PST

USB problems are legendary so nothing sounds amiss there. It is possible for USB ports to get blown by using those USB powered drives. Not supposed to blow out but it can happen.

Let's test those ports. How? I use a bootable LIVE CD of Linux. I don't have to know Linux, I don't install Linux. I just boot it and can see if the mouse and keyboard works or not.

This lets me see if this is a software or hardware issue.

More at

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Linux worked, but...
by ZacharyBaughman / December 14, 2011 5:17 AM PST

So I did as you suggested Bob, ran a bootable Linux cd and the mouse, keyboard, and usb drives all worked fine. However, as soon as I tried to reboot using Vista, everything locks up. Any ideas?



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That's good news in a way.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 14, 2011 6:02 AM PST
In reply to: Linux worked, but...

Until we have more clues as to the software/OS/Vista issue and if System Restore fails then we are looking at reinstalling the OS.

Did you unplug all USB things for a test? Then after it booted, plug in just the USB keyboard?

On some Dells the USB keyboard must be in specific ports. I can't keep track of which ones need that.

Also, what's not stock here?

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Everything is stock
by ZacharyBaughman / December 14, 2011 7:08 AM PST

Everything is stock on the machine. I had NOT unplugged the little USB receiver for the mouse and keyboard when I've done the reboots. I DID unplug all the external usb drives though. I'll try unplugging everything and giving that a shot. The good news, if you could call it that, is that I found I can reboot using the Linux disc and save my necessary files to one of the external drives before completely reinstalling the OS. I'll keep troubleshooting in the meantime. Thanks for the help Bob!


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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 14, 2011 7:14 AM PST
In reply to: Everything is stock

That little USB receiver? In some cases with some bios settings the boot can hang or Windows will go funky.

Let's look up that old LOGITECH KEYBOARD DRIVER disaster?

Yes, I know. I did not share the times this happened on XP, Vista and 7. But the lesson repeats that we don't want to install such things.

Try again a boot without that thing and a normal USB keyboard.

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Tried again, no luck!
by ZacharyBaughman / December 14, 2011 10:26 PM PST
In reply to: AHA

Tried again this morning with regular USB keyboard and mouse, still no luck. Any other ideas? Thanks for all the suggestions so far!


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My light touch is not working.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 14, 2011 11:53 PM PST
In reply to: Tried again, no luck!

I hinted at there can be issues with those keyboard drivers. You didn't reveal if such were installed. Your choice.

Without more clues, it looks like you reload the OS since the Linux boot tests work.

For example does SAFE MODE lock up? If not and if this was my machine I'd head to the control panel and uninstall what I installed earlier and might do same in the device manager. I can not be specific here.

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Computer is bone stock from Dell
by ZacharyBaughman / December 15, 2011 2:56 AM PST

I'm not a programmer or computer wiz by any means, so all I can tell you (sorry I didn't catch the hint) is that the computer is bone stock as bought from Dell. What drivers it has or does not have, I could not say. When I boot up in safe mode, the keyboard and mouse still lock up at the login screen. I've tried to get to the device manager through the command prompt using devmgmt.msc, but all I get is the error listed in my first post. Right now I'm going through the tedious task of using the Linus boot to transfer all necessary files to an external drive before completely reinstalling the OS. I don't know enough about computers to explain why, but it's baffling to me why the keyboard and mouse will work in the system recovery mode, but not at the login.


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I think I have enough clues now. (but no easy fix).
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 15, 2011 3:10 AM PST

I'll use the two statements as clues.

1. "why the keyboard and mouse will work in the system recovery mode, but not at the login."
2. " "'devmgmt.msc' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file."

While you may want to know why item 1 is, it does not lead to any cure. In recovery mode any extra drivers are not loaded so the base drivers are used and therefore no lockup.

The interesting part to me is the second item along with the first. To me this reeks of a failed malware exploit. Some malware installs key logging and then proceeds to disable tools that might be used to find and remove the key logger or malware.

For example if some malware installed a keyboard driver I could use device manager to remove the keyboard driver and let windows use it's default driver.

After all this my bet is on malware damage. And remember that malware removal is only that. Removing the malware still leaves the system damaged.

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