How to know if a USB port is version 1 or 2?

  ken kasriel 12:10 02 Aug 04

Sorry for what might appear to be a naive question. Here is the background -- somewhat long, sorry, but perhaps it will permit a better diagnosis of the problem...

About 18 months ago I ordered from a music PC vendor a machine with, among other specs, USB 2.0 ports. (Other basic specs: runs XP Home; 1024 mb of RAM; Pentium 4, 2.4 ghz; circ. 100 gb hard disk space)

I used the USB ports for things where the high data transfer speeds you get with USB 2 are not very important, e.g. a MIDI controller, a mouse, etc.

But then I bought an external DVD writer (from Freecom). After installing the accompanying drivers and software, and when attempting to burn a DVD, I received a pop-up warning to the effect that the USB port I'd plugged the burner into was
not a high-speed connection, therefore burning would be very slow.

I received this message whenever I tried burning

a) with the Freecom plugged into any of the five USB ports on the PC, or
b) with a friend's Hewlett Packard DVD burner plugged into any of the 5 ports.

I got the same message whether I was using Easy CD Creator, Nero or the HP burning application.

Critically, I did NOT get this message when plugging either burner into what I know for certain to be UBS 2.0 ports on two other machines (my laptop and my friend's laptop.) (I know for a fact that these were USB 2.0 ports because I used a PCMCIA USB 2.0 card).

On my PC, I CAN burn DVDs, but it takes about 2.5 hours (including verification), while it takes about 25 minutes on the laptops.

I contacted the PC vendor. They said it was very unlikely that they would have mistakenly shipped the PC with USB 1 ports. (I am not so sure, as they initially shipped the PC with some pretty appalling setup omissions, but that's another story). They said I should send it back to them for a look. If indeed it turns out that they'd shipped the PC with the wrong ports (i.e. USB 1), they said, they'd fix it at no cost to me, even though the warranty has expired. BUT, they said, if they found USB 2.0 ports on the machine, I would have to pay for the whole shipping bill (London-Nottingham-London).

This strikes me as odd. In light of the PC's behaviour versus the laptops' , as described above, it seems to me that either they indeed installed the wrong ports, or -- which from a customer's standpoint is just as bad -- they installed USB 2.0 ports in a way which makes them behave like USB 1 ports. I don't feel I should pay anything extra in that case. (I also don't know what would prevent them from finding that they had installed USB 1 ports, changing them to USB 2, maintaining that there had been USB 2 ports in place all along, and making me pay for the shipping).

OK.. as for my questions:

1) Apart from testing the ports with devices, as I've already done, how can I determine what kind of USB my ports are? I've looked at the BIOS settings and under appropriate sections of XP's Control Panel. These indicate that there are USB ports but says nothing about whether they are USB 1 or USB 2.

2) From a practical standpoint, it might be much simpler to just swallow principles and take my machine to the high street Maplin Electronics and have them install a USB 2 card. (I wouldn’t have to pack the machine in special protective packaging, miss work while waiting around for the courier, etc) BUT, as a non-techie who is aware that sometimes even slight changes to a system can cause all kinds of problems -- would I be tempting fate by doing so? I run some often fickle music applications which interface (somewhat erratically) with an expensive soundcard. Could adding a USB 2 card (or even replacing the existing, presumed USB 1 card) mess something up?

Many many thanks in advance to anyone with the patience to read through all this and offer advice...



  jonnytub 12:15 02 Aug 04

you need xp sp1 to use usb 2.0, also is the cable your using usb 2?

  jonnytub 12:16 02 Aug 04

You can identify whether your PC has Hi-Speed or not relatively easy. Open Device Manager and expand the Universal Serial Bus section. There should be an “Enhanced” USB host controller present.

Windows 98 systems may use a different name, because Hi-Speed USB drivers in these operating systems are not provided directly from Microsoft (Windows ME, 2000 and XP get their drivers through Windows Update).

These drivers are provided by the manufacturer, and may carry the maker’s name (i.e. ADS, Belkin, IOGear, Siig, etc.). There should also be two “standard” version USB host controllers present as well. They are embedded in the USB chip which routes the differing USB speeds accordingly without user intervention.

There are currently 6 manufacturers of the Hi-Speed USB host silicon themselves:

ALi (Acer Labs)





nVidia (shows as “Standard” controller – see illustration above)

Any other brand name that appears in Device Manager would likely be an add-in Hi-Speed USB PCI card. The makers above do not make add-in cards, but they do make the chips that are used in them.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 12:19 02 Aug 04

For all your USB problems this web site is the best click here

  Timmy!! 12:39 02 Aug 04

Another thing with computers aged anywhere over a couple of months old is that some motherboards have a mix of ports ie a couple of USB 1.1 ports and a couple of USB 2 ports presumably to keep down costs.

In some of the motherboards a bought about a year ago, they had 5 1.1 ports and only 1 USB 2 port (always the bottom right one if you look at the mother board flat & end on).

This is just for a bit of extra info but i would suggest following jonnytub's suggestions; mainly making sure you have XP SP1 and the 'suggested update' regarding USB2 on the windows update site.

XP will then pop up a little balloon to tell you if you've plugged a high speed device into a slow USB port. Allowing you to find out which ports are high speed.

  ken kasriel 12:45 02 Aug 04


Thanks for your advice. But it leads to another question or two:

1) How do I know if I have SP 1 installed or not?

2) If I don't, do I have to buy the service pack?

3) The machine in question has no internet connection. Is it possible, say, to download SP1 onto another machine, burn downlaod onto a cd and then put it on my machine? Or must the updating be done over the web?

  Graham ® 12:55 02 Aug 04

Start, right click My Computer, Properties, General. Under System it will say Service Pack 1.

  jonnytub 12:56 02 Aug 04

order the xp sp1 direct from microsoft, if not i can email it to you.

  jonnytub 12:57 02 Aug 04

follow grahams advice to see if you xp xp1 installed first.

  Chegs ® 14:04 02 Aug 04

click here

Mine state its an "Standard Enhanced PCI to USB host controller" Does this mean its enhanced and USB 2 or Standard and USB 1.1? :-)

  jonnytub 14:07 02 Aug 04

enhanced means you have usb 2.0 installed

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