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Troubleshooting Ports on your Dell Laptop or Desktop Computer

Summary: The following article takes you through identifying and troubleshooting the ports and connectors on a Dell laptop or desktop computer.

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Article Content


Table of contents

  1. Troubleshooting the Ports on your computer
  2. Damage
  3. Intermittent Issues
  4. Non-Functioning

Troubleshooting the Ports on your computer

This article helps you to troubleshoot a range of issues relating to the external ports on your Dell computer.

This article covers what is considered to damage and what may be covered under your Dell Pro Support Warranty.

NOTE: Disregard this section if your Dell computer is covered under the Accidental Damage Cover. Accidental damage is covered as part of the Accidental Damage Cover package.

If you want to learn how to check your warranty status, see the following article.

Dell knowledge base article: How to Find Warranty Status and Information for your Dell product

Issues with external ports can usually be tracked back to one of three issues:

  • Damage to the port - Where physical harm has occurred, such as bent or missing pins or parts broken off.
  • Intermittent Function - Where the signal comes and goes intermittently. Usually to do with a loose connection or port.
  • Non-Functioning - No signal or signs of life through port at all.

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We are specifically discussing physical breakage when we reference damage.

If you are unsure of the various ports and connectors, see the visual guide on the article below.

Dell knowledge base article: A Guide to the External Ports and Connectors on a Dell Computer

  1. Does the issue happen on more than one port on the computer?

    • No, it only happens on the one port. Move to the next step.

    • Yes, it happens on every port of that type on the computer. Go to Step 4.

  2. Checking for damage is very basic, it is looking at the faulty port and physically checking if there are any of the following issues:

    • Cracks in the plastics surrounding the port?
    • Any part of the port crimped or bent?
    • Any pins from inside the port bent or missing?
    • Any parts of the port missing or broken off?
    • Does any part of the port appear to be loose or coming apart?
  3. Do you identify any of the above to either the port on the computer or to the connector on the external cable/external device?

    • No, you cannot identify any damage to the port or to the connector on the external cable/device. Go to the next step.

    • Yes, there is damage to the port. Contact Dell Technical Support for further assistance about the damaged part. You must have a complete care warranty in place or be prepared for a chargeable repair call. (Your local Technical Support team can provide a quote for the repair.)

    • Yes, there is damage to the connector of the external cable/device. Replace the damaged part.

  4. Does the external cable/device work ok in another computer or device?

    • No, you must replace the external cable/device.

    • Yes, go to the Intermittent section.

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Intermittent Issues

  1. Plug the external device to the suspect port. If you move the connector when it is plugged into the port, does it affect whether the device is detected or not?

    • No, go to the Non-Functioning section.

    • Yes, this is an indicator that some part of the port is loose. Loose connections only become worse over time. Contact Dell Technical Support for further assistance. (They advise the warranty status based on your information.)

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  1. Have you ruled out a software issue in any way? There are three basic ways to accomplish this.

    1. You can two way swap your Hard Drive with one from a similar working computer and see if the fault follows the hard drive to a new computer or if the issue stays with your computer? (Follow your User Guide for instructions on removing any hardware parts as the steps change from model type to the model type.

    2. You can boot from an Ubuntu Live CD (Regardless of the operating system currently in use on the computer.) and check to see if you experience the same issue in another operating system (OS). Ubuntu live CDs allow you to boot the OS off the CD without installing it on your Hard Drive. You can download an ISO of the CD on the Download link below. Tap rapidly at the F12 key when the computer boots to the Dell Splash screen and choose the CD/DVD drive option from the boot once menu that appears.

    3. You can run a factory restore or reinstall the operating system.

      CAUTION: Reinstalling the operating system must be done only as a last resort and only done if one of the other two steps could not be done. You MUST back up all data before carrying out this procedure - if you do not data WILL be lost. Any operating system reinstall or factory restore involves formatting your Hard Disk Drive (HDD). See the guides on the Windows support page for more information about these procedures.
  2. Was the issue seen once the OS and Software was ruled out?

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Additional Information

Article Properties

Affected Product

Desktops & All-in-Ones, Laptops, Workstations

Last Published Date

30 Jan 2024



Article Type

How To