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Is it possible for a USB port to burn out a device plugged into it?

Out of nowhere yesterday my wired keyboard and mouse both sort of died. On the keyboard some of the keys stopped working, as if one of the pins on the controller matrix burned out.

On the mouse, I plug it in and it works for a few minutes before it loses power. It has a power indicator LED, and some mouse speed indicator LEDs. The power indicator goes out completely, while the others get very dim as if the USB port lowered the voltage. Windows reports "USB device not recognized".

I've tried the mouse in another computer and still no power. When I plug the keyboard into another computer, it has the same broken keys.

I'm kinda bummed since they were each $80. Is it possible that the USB port on my work laptop fried the keyboard/mouse?


There does seem to be something wrong with the electrical wiring in my office. Recently, I had a digital clock plugged in that keep resetting the time. If I moved it to another outlet in a different part of the building, the clock works fine. This started in winter, so I suspect that someone on my same circuit had plugged in a space heater.

1 Answer

Yes it is possible. Anything that supplies electrical power to a device can be faulty and cause damage.

You could use a multimeter to measure the output of the USB ports. You can see the USB power specifications here.

We had a USB port on a computer burn through three mice (both wireless and wired) within a short amount of time after them being plugged-in. It was only one of the ports that exhibited the behavior on a laptop. The mice were usable with other computers before being plugged-in and not usable on any computer after being plugged-in, so, yes, it is definitely possible.