How-To Geek

The Problem with Plugging into USB Ports [Image]

Do any of you experience this same level of frustration with your USB ports?

All the time… [9GAG]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 08/30/11

Comments (47)

  1. Hatryst

    That’s the only thing i HATE about USBs :D

  2. Odin

    every… effin… time…


  3. Lady Fitzgerald

    Hmmmm. I get it right the first time most of the time. The times I do not, it only takes a quick flip to correct it. No biggie.

  4. TechnoGeek

    no but i know a lot of people who do

  5. brad

    If you look at the plug, the USB symbol always faces up… that is unless the USB plug is sideways, like on the back of a desktop. Then you’re screwed.

  6. Lee

    I have this happen every time!! Sometimes it even takes 4-5 flips to get it to go in right (unless it’s something I plug in a lot, in which case I just know which way it goes in, like a flash drive into a particular computer). I guess it doesn’t help that my visual impairment makes it difficult to look at the actual plug.

  7. TeckGeek01

    ^^So true. thats how i do it.

  8. northpm

    That happens to me all the time! Especially on those USB that have the symbal on both sides of the plug so you cant tell which side is up or down…

  9. tim

    so damn true!

  10. Khai

    add in trying to plug it in on the back of a machine you can’t move, reaching into a rat’s nest of cables, wedged against a wall…..

  11. Micky

    You mean yours doesn’t fit both ways?

  12. Michael Fisher

    Tiny blob of glue to top face of the USB plug & let it dry thoroughly ~ your fingers will easily feel it
    For vertical slots ~ still apply to the top, narrow edge of the USB plug

  13. Tech Chechckers

    Ahh, yes and hat’s off to the PC Case Manufacturer’s who install (especially front port) USB’s upside Down, though as a Handy Reminder is on the USB plug the Side with the Vertical Line is the base of the plug,

    ALSO anyone else have a client that blew their mainboard by plugging a USB Harddrive into the RJ45 LAN port?

    Whose bight idea when drawing up the IEEE specifications was it to make the USB and Ethernet Port the same frikkin’ size ! Any design is a tad borked when that happens….

  14. Kevin James

    I generally look for the USB symbol, and 9/10 times it should be facing up. So I only have to flip it 3/4 of the time. LOL

  15. Cheryl Stoy

    And for those of us who are geek-impaired and try to remedy it by following useful sites such as this one….I have thrown the damn thing across the room, gone and got a beer, glared at my husband and uttered something unfavorable (my husband picks up on my “utterly-pissed-off-woman-with-a-freakin’-computer-issue-look” and knows better than to ask what’s wrong) and come back and flip it again…

    Still doesn’t work…cuss out Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Google…or namely anyone or anything high on a technical list…sip more beer…flip it again…still no love. Finish beer and contemplate performing Hari-kari on myself with useless USB apparatus.

    Now turn on every light within a 20 mile radius, cuss out computer manufacturers, crawl under desk, begin moving every one of 200 cables I have plugged into something so some other technical piece of crap I got (but don’t really need) works. Begin moving the external hard drive, the external docking station, the old printer that doesn’t work (we never throw out anything we may use in another life) stacks of computer games and old books, wipe away various cobwebs and layers of dust, and begin flipping and plugging in again.

    Finally…some love.Go get another beer and move on.

  16. Kari

    Not only that but the USB plug is the same width as the ethernet socket so if you’re fumbling blind behind your machine you can easily push it in the wrong hole! Who designs these things?

  17. sanwalah

    yes thats an issue, but more seriously when certain USB devices cover the neighboring ports, and you need them at the same time, you are screwed…

  18. michael

    Ok how many of your are “Flippers” raise your hands :)

  19. Emil

    Cheryl… rock. Frustrating…….I use a drop of white-out on the symbol side of the usb plug so I get it right the 1st time. Then put another drop on the correct spot on the computer……….voila. Match the dots and end the frustration. To get at the maze in the back of the beast I use an extension cable……too scary back there, cuts into wine-drinking time. Hard to drink while on your hands and knees with your head under the desk. Then having inserted the correct way I have time for another glass of wine.

    Might help…..HTG is the greatest.

  20. jer

    You have to use Zen. You have to slow down, put your awareness in your fingertips, be aware of nothing else for the moment but the sensitive matching of the metal pieces, adjusting your fingers gently to the position and flow, and then feel the perfection of the fit. If you have been insufficiently intuitive and have tried to insert the device reversed, then instead of cursing and weeping and swearing revenge, you need only focus once more on effortless perfection, and simply turn it around. It will glide in with happy obedience, and you can return to your meditations. If you feel inclined to rage against the design engineers who seem unable to place clear identifying marks on both device and socket which would always enable success on the first try, then you must be patient, grasshopper, and meditate upon general enlightenment.

  21. Arcturus909

    I recently got an excellent deal on two USB hard drives. They each came with the handy USB symbol on the cable. But guess what? These are the sole exceptions (that I have found) that you are supposed to put the BLANK side up and the USB symbol DOWN!
    It took me while to figure that out. I just kept trying with no flips because that is the way it is supposed to be!
    I’ll never trust a symbol again…

  22. Ian

    Push it in harder………

  23. Henry

    Hmm, what I do is look a the actual part that goes in the computer (Metal Part). You see two holes, on either side. The two wholes that are blank and you can stick stuff through, is the top.

    On the bottom, there should be a colored piece of plastic covering the bottom two holes, you can still see them, but all you can see are two colored pieces of plastic.

  24. Roshnal

    Every. Freakin’. Time.

  25. Nachol

    Gosh! So funny! I *always* thought this was something that happened to me only!!!

    So many funny stories!!!

    Thank you all for a good laugh early in the morning.

  26. Al Pope

    I am like Cheryl I put a white dot on the plug

  27. Rich

    Same for me Henry. Not too hard to figure out.

  28. Cobaltqube

    While this works for me alot of you also have great ideas.. I do a beginners class for seniors looking to get into computers and what I have them remember is this.. “Open eyes look up towards the sky” (look at a USB plug if you don’t get what I mean) and 99% of the time it works unless the manuf puts the port in upside down or it is vertical instead of horizontal.. Anyways.. easy to remember and works for me.. And I actually had the USB into the RJ-45 issue happen to a client or 2.. Never pretty.. ;-)

  29. Int0XeD


    Reminds me of a guy who told me he was a computer genius. Then the very next minute tried to plug a USB cord into an Ethernet port. LOL LOL I love it

  30. Cobaltqube


    Yeah I have seen a few like that also.. One of the people I mentioned above had really jammed it in there too.. I guess she was one of those if it don’t quite fit then JAM it in :-) lol !!

  31. DHeppell

    I never have this problem as most of the time the USB port is either facing up or left and on most USB connectors there are deep holes on the top and shallow ones on the bottom which you can feel the bottom of if u run ur finger over so i have found a technique of plugging it in that always works by holding sideways in respect to port and running a finger over the end if i feel deep hole turn one way if not the other

  32. nnick

    I would add pluging USB into Ethernet port. Fits perfectly…

  33. Jim Stevens

    I use a powered USB hub with a cord on it. It not only let me look at the ports but it also adds more
    +5v current into the system.

  34. AnnerMan

    Anyone know of any USB keyboards with USB slots installed?

  35. Rocky45x

    I notch the square corner off the upper right side of the USB plug.
    Running my finger over the cord, I can tell up and right without looking.
    Works great for low lighting or reach around plug-in situations.

  36. Damien

    God damn voodoo USB… All the time I tell you!

  37. Damien

    Girlfriends PC has upside down USB ports on the front panel… gets me every time.

  38. snert

    There’s times I wanted to flip the computer…out the window.
    Mine has vertical USB slots front and back.
    I had a rare flash of brillance and got a powered El Cheapo 6-port USB hub.

  39. KatsumeBlisk

    That’s how it is when it’s on a computer or with a device I’m not familiar with. Most of my flash drives I can connect on the first time, but my phone’s USB cable, something I don’t connect too often, takes a couple tries sometimes. XD

  40. Mark

    Sometimes I go through the process multiple times before it eventually fits other times I have to look at the port to see which way it should be going in :D

  41. GrantBurtt

    when you get your usb device get some yellow tape that sticks real hard or yellow dots. put the yellow dot/or tape trimmed to size neatly dont want to make it look like a back yarder. put it on the bottom of the usb. its far easier to se and i know from experience that not all usb devices have the usb logo on the correct side. and for the rear the same with the east west plugs apposed to the up down plugs that originaly appeared at the rear of the PC and Mac.

    If you ask me Manufacturers should make the standard plug moulded with a black and white plug that is white bottom black top or vice versa. so their is never ever any confusion.

  42. Mikayah

    Happens quite a lot with me. If its persistent I look at the ends of the usb as to match them correctly: thin end to fat end (Henry has said: “You see two holes, on either side. The two wholes that are blank and you can stick stuff through, is the top. On the bottom, there should be a colored piece of plastic covering the bottom two holes, you can still see them, but all you can see are two colored pieces of plastic). The ports are designed to fit like a glove . . .so then I get it right. I admit its somewhat like a small war when the back of the PC is in a tight space or has tons of connections attached.

  43. Woot

    It happens a lot of times to me, especially in dark rooms and when the ports are placed in an horrible way.

  44. Eric Schell

    To get around problems accessing the rear of the case, get a USB extension cable. A-style one end, B-style the other, so that one end can plug into the other. Just leave it plugged in.

  45. spute

    yes frustrating indeed. I finally used some liquid paper, or white label tape (but anything sticky works) to mark the “top” side of the plus, to have the visual cue that it is right side up. Then if it isn’t going in, I know its me, and not the plug who failed.

  46. E.W.

    Most of my ‘toys’ only plug into MY computer, so once the USB connector is in place, I leave it plugged in. I have a row of hooks along the side of my desk to hang the cords on. I have to memorize which cord/plug goes to which toy, but that is easier than getting the USB plugged in.

    I had a Dell desktop with front USB connections that were under a lift up door and angled up toward the top back… I often wondered why they didn’t put a pull down door on it instead. I had to litterally stand on my head to plug it in.

    I also keep a small flashlight by my computer or in my drawer. Comes in real handy when hunting down the right connection in the back of your computer.

  47. Victor

    I know people who are quite illiterate when it comes to computers, but this case is real, as I know the person.

    Some buses in France now include a “black box”, which records the traffic information of the bus journey (for touristic and transport buses). It is a goverment requirement to download the information every 28 days.

    All it takes, is to get a USB key, plug it in, wait a few minutes (it’s nearly instantaneous, but anyway) and unplug it (unmounting is not required).

    So my friend couldn’t be present this particular time to do this task, and ask a relative to do it on his behalf.

    After two attempts, the helper couldn’t complete the task. Called in the company that looks after this system (after being able to find it on the Paper Yellow Pages) so they would do it, without my friend knowing.

    Obviously, they charged aprox $350EUR.

    On my friend’s return, and to his dismay, he found the problem his relative had: two failed attempts to insert the USB key were sufficient for the relative to waste money on support (and that company did not care on charging so much, of course).

    Lesson learnt.

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!