We’re all familiar with the Connect/Disconnect noise Windows makes when you connect and disconnect USB devices. But things get a little spooky when you hear the random USB noises for no reason. You’re just working on your computer when suddenly and inexplicably, the USB noises go haywire for a few seconds, connecting and reconnecting, while you wonder what demons possessed your computer.
Here are some tips that can help you exorcise these phantom USB noises.
Using Device Manager
This is the quick-and-easy method (though not as robust as the tool mentioned later). If it does work, then it’ll save you the hassle of third-party software.
When you start hearing the USB noises, quickly click the Start button, type
device manager, and hit Enter.
This lands you in the Device Manager window. Drag the bottom of the window down to make it as tall as possible, then expand the options for all the things attached to your USB ports (keyboards, mice and other pointing devices, Bluetooth, human interface devices and so on). With all the necessary device lists expanded, keep an eye on it and see if anything keeps disappearing and reappearing from the lists as your PC makes the sounds.
If you manage to spot the misbehaving device, right-click it (you may need to go to “View -> Show hidden devices” first if it keeps disappearing because it’s disconnecting), then click “Update Driver Software.” If that fails, it may be worth uninstalling it (right-click the device -> Uninstall), then reinserting it into your PC so it can reinstall itself.
Alternatively, if you want to do a complete reinstall of all your USB controllers, in Device Manager click the arrow next to “Universal Serial Bus controllers” to expand it, then right-click all the options that have “Host Controller” in them and uninstall them.
Reboot your PC, and your USB controllers will reinstall on your PC automatically.
Even if everything seems to be working fine, a new Windows update could result in driver issues yet again. If the random USB noises started after a Windows update, updating the driver or uninstalling and reinstalling is usually the best option.
If the random USB noises are too unpredictable to track in Device Manager, or if the noise has stopped by the time you get to Device Manager, then it’s time to try out this great little tool.
USBDeview, from the excellent Nirsoft, tracks your USB devices more accurately – seeing whether or not they’re connected, when their drivers were created, and most importantly, the last time they were plugged in or out of your PC.
Once you’ve installed USBDeview, open it to see a list of all your USB devices (by default it shows all of them – connected or not).
Ideally, you should open it soon after hearing the mysterious USB noises because when you click the “Last Plug/Unplug Date” column, the culprit device (i.e. the most recent device to have been plugged/unplugged from your PC) will appear at the top.
You can then uninstall the device directly through USBDeview by right-clicking it and clicking “Uninstall Selected Devices.” After that, unplug your device, plug it back in, and hopefully it’ll reinstall without haunting you with endless connect/disconnect sounds.
You can also use the tool to check power output. This helps to see if your USB port is working.
Turn Off USB Notification Sounds
Most of the time these annoying USB jingles aren’t a sign of anything severe and may just be momentary driver clashes or lapses in the device’s power that won’t have any effect on your actual usage of them. If the device responsible for the sounds seems to be working fine but continues to make noises after you reinstalled it, then instead of replacing it, you can just turn off the notification sounds for USB devices.
To do this, right-click the speaker icon in the notifications menu at the far right of the taskbar, click Sounds, then scroll down in the “Program Events” list to “Device Connect.” Click it, then in the Sounds drop-down menu where it says “Windows Hardware Insert,” scroll all the way to the top and select “(None).”
Do the same thing for “Device Disconnect” and enjoy the sound of silence!
Try a New USB Port
Sometimes random USB noises could be a sign of a failing USB port or a failing device. For instance, a damaged USB drive may connect and reconnect randomly. Also know whether disconnecting a USB drive while it’s in use can damage it. If a port is failing, the issue will happen no matter what device you plug in.
Rule out the port by plugging in other devices to see if the problem continues. If not, the port is likely fine.
Test individual devices by plugging them into other USB ports. If the random USB noises continue, it’s either the device or the driver. If possible, try your device on another PC to further test if it’s the device failing.
One of the things I learned from this is that not every unexplained sound in Windows is a sign that something terrible is happening. Sure, it’s worth looking into, but in this scenario nothing is usually at stake apart from your comfort.
If, after doing all of the above, you didn’t want to turn off your USB notification sound and don’t like the idea of your devices constantly connecting and reconnecting, then you can always go out and buy a new device. (My experience is that no-brand devices are more prone to these hiccups than reputable brands, so sometimes it’s worth spending a bit extra if this issue bothers you.)