Using USB peripherals on a MBP with fried USB ports

jdocdp

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
99
1
Hey guys, I bought a MacBook Pro, 15", 2010 on eBay and it works fine, except both of its USB ports are fried.

Is there any way to still connect USB peripherals to it, such as hard drives, smartphones etc?

I was hoping to connect a USB hub to its FireWire, or Thunderbolt port.

(Well, there's no actual Thunderbolt port on this MBP, but there's FireWire to Thunderbolt adapters being sold online, so maybe someone can help me find a workaround to this?)

Thanks. :)
 

pshufd

macrumors 65816
Oct 24, 2013
1,302
880
New Hampshire
Hey guys, I bought a MacBook Pro, 15", 2010 on eBay and it works fine, except both of its USB ports are fried.

Is there any way to still connect USB peripherals to it, such as hard drives, smartphones etc?

I was hoping to connect a USB hub to its FireWire, or Thunderbolt port.

(Well, there's no actual Thunderbolt port on this MBP, but there's FireWire to Thunderbolt adapters being sold online, so maybe someone can help me find a workaround to this?)

Thanks. :)
Look for an ExpressCard USB adapter. These come in USB 3.0 but it might be difficult finding one with drivers that work on macOS. You might need to find an older USB 2.0 adapter. I used an ExpressCard SSD in my 2008 MacBook Pro for many years as a boot disk - really fast and I could easily move it to another Mac if I had to.
 

TGM85

macrumors member
Aug 29, 2005
70
64
I'm afraid there is no easy solution to this problem. A FireWire or Mini DisplayPort to usb female adapter is going to be really hard to find, if such a product exists at all.

The post above me talking about an ExpressCard expansion is not relevant sadly enough. Your 2010 MBP does not have an ExpressCard slot, those were phased out after the MBP early 2009. Don't waste your money on one.

Not to be mean, but this sounds like an issue you should have researched before purchasing.

If the seller didn't disclose this problem: file a complaint. eBay almost always takes the buyer's side, you might be able to get your money back.
 

jdocdp

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
99
1
Look for an ExpressCard USB adapter. These come in USB 3.0 but it might be difficult finding one with drivers that work on macOS. You might need to find an older USB 2.0 adapter. I used an ExpressCard SSD in my 2008 MacBook Pro for many years as a boot disk - really fast and I could easily move it to another Mac if I had to.
Thank you for your response but according to the user below you, my MBP does not have an ExpressCard slot :/

I'm afraid there is no easy solution to this problem. A FireWire or Mini DisplayPort to usb female adapter is going to be really hard to find, if such a product exists at all.

The post above me talking about an ExpressCard expansion is not relevant sadly enough. Your 2010 MBP does not have an ExpressCard slot, those were phased out after the MBP early 2009. Don't waste your money on one.

Not to be mean, but this sounds like an issue you should have researched before purchasing.

If the seller didn't disclose this problem: file a complaint. eBay almost always takes the buyer's side, you might be able to get your money back.
Well, no the seller was honest. I just... thought it'd be easy to figure out an alternative... :/
My MBP has a (female) FireWire port. What if I connect it to a 'male FireWire to female Thunderbolt' and then connect this to a 'male Thunderbolt to a female USB hub'?
Thanks for replying, by the way.
 

phairphan

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2005
593
214
Reject Beach
Thank you for your response but according to the user below you, my MBP does not have an ExpressCard slot :/



Well, no the seller was honest. I just... thought it'd be easy to figure out an alternative... :/
My MBP has a (female) FireWire port. What if I connect it to a 'male FireWire to female Thunderbolt' and then connect this to a 'male Thunderbolt to a female USB hub'?
Thanks for replying, by the way.
To my knowledge and for many reasons, there are no FireWire to Thunderbolt adaptors.
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,195
2,523
Hey guys, I bought a MacBook Pro, 15", 2010 on eBay and it works fine, except both of its USB ports are fried.

Is there any way to still connect USB peripherals to it, such as hard drives, smartphones etc?

I was hoping to connect a USB hub to its FireWire, or Thunderbolt port.

(Well, there's no actual Thunderbolt port on this MBP, but there's FireWire to Thunderbolt adapters being sold online, so maybe someone can help me find a workaround to this?)

Thanks. :)
You cannot go from Firewire to Thunderbolt on a computer that doesn't have Thunderbolt, so that's out. You also won't find any USB to Firewire adapters so your options are limited to using Firewire devices or getting the USB ports repaired.
 

pshufd

macrumors 65816
Oct 24, 2013
1,302
880
New Hampshire
Thank you for your response but according to the user below you, my MBP does not have an ExpressCard slot :/
I just checked and the 2010 15 doesn't have the ExpressCard slot. I have 2007 15s, a 2008 17 and a 2011 17 and they all have ExpressCard slots but it looks like they dropped it for the 2010. Too bad - ExpressCard is a very flexible slot with high bandwidth.
 
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jdocdp

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
99
1
To my knowledge and for many reasons, there are no FireWire to Thunderbolt adaptors.
That's true, just noticed the ones I'd seen (even the ones that Apple is selling) are male Thunderbolt to female FireWire and not the other way around. :/

You cannot go from Firewire to Thunderbolt on a computer that doesn't have Thunderbolt, so that's out. You also won't find any USB to Firewire adapters so your options are limited to using Firewire devices or getting the USB ports repaired.
Well, I wouldn't bother further fixing this computer to be honest, as I'd have to replace the entire logic board just for the USB sockets, so that'd take money/time.

As far as FireWire devices are concerned, for example external HD's, do I just need to buy a new FireWire cable for my already existing USB HD's, or am I looking at entirely different HD's that I'll have to buy in order to connect them to my MBP?

I just checked and the 2010 15 doesn't have the ExpressCard slot. I have 2007 15s, a 2008 17 and a 2011 17 and they all have ExpressCard slots but it looks like they dropped it for the 2010. Too bad - ExpressCard is a very flexible slot with high bandwidth.
And I'm guessing I wouldn't be able to use the SDcard slot instead of the ExpressCard one for that purpose, would I? :/

Thanks for replying to me.
 

pshufd

macrumors 65816
Oct 24, 2013
1,302
880
New Hampshire
And I'm guessing I wouldn't be able to use the SDcard slot instead of the ExpressCard one for that purpose, would I? :/

Thanks for replying to me.
The SD slot is low-bandwidth and only used for a specific piece of storage. The ExpressCard is basically an external PCI slot running at 10 gbps.
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,195
2,523
As far as FireWire devices are concerned, for example external HD's, do I just need to buy a new FireWire cable for my already existing USB HD's, or am I looking at entirely different HD's that I'll have to buy in order to connect them to my MBP?
Some enclosures are both USB and Firewire, but they are more expensive than USB-only, so you may or may not have drives that have both.
 

phairphan

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2005
593
214
Reject Beach
Well, I wouldn't bother further fixing this computer to be honest, as I'd have to replace the entire logic board just for the USB sockets, so that'd take money/time.

As far as FireWire devices are concerned, for example external HD's, do I just need to buy a new FireWire cable for my already existing USB HD's, or am I looking at entirely different HD's that I'll have to buy in order to connect them to my MBP.
As chrfr said above, some drives have both Firewire and USB ports, but they're uncommon (especially these days) and more expensive. It's unlikely that you have these.

Unfortunately, there is no reasonable way to convert any of your three remaining "ports" (Firewire, Ethernet, SD card) into USB. While Firewire and NAS (Ethernet) drives exist, they are more expensive and, in the case of Firewire, more difficulty to find. At the end of the day, even if you had functioning USB ports, you're dealing with USB 2 on this MBP. Any drive access is going to be noticeably slow.

To circle back to your original problem, how do you know the USB ports are fried? Have you tried an SMC and NVRAM reset?
 

jdocdp

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
99
1
As chrfr said above, some drives have both Firewire and USB ports, but they're uncommon (especially these days) and more expensive. It's unlikely that you have these.

Unfortunately, there is no reasonable way to convert any of your three remaining "ports" (Firewire, Ethernet, SD card) into USB. While Firewire and NAS (Ethernet) drives exist, they are more expensive and, in the case of Firewire, more difficulty to find. At the end of the day, even if you had functioning USB ports, you're dealing with USB 2 on this MBP. Any drive access is going to be noticeably slow.

To circle back to your original problem, how do you know the USB ports are fried? Have you tried an SMC and NVRAM reset?
Update!

First, to answer your question, no, I just took the seller's word that "the USB ports no longer worked", and when the computer arrived, I inspected the ports and saw one of the ports (left one) had something like stardust residue inside it, (I thought probably from some frying incident?) Although there was no indication of spark's burn (or any discoloration, as one would expect) around or inside the port. Nothing responds when connected to this left port.

The other one however (right one) is fully responsive when connecting a mouse.

However, when something more "heavyweight" is connected, like an external HD, I immediately get a pop up notification:
"USB devices disabled - unplug the device using too much power to re-enable USB devices"
https://support.apple.com/library/content/dam/edam/applecare/images/en_US/macos/macos-high-sierra-notification-usb-devices-disabled.jpg

I have no idea why I get this message (Could it be that the aforementioned frying incident left this other port "kinda" damaged? Don't know, as I'm not tech proficient.)

Even though I get this message, the HD seems to have Time Machine working properly. Don't know if I could trust it not being corrupted though, given the condition of the port.

Also, tried plugging the HD while the computer was turned OFF. I did, and then turned it ON, and I didn't get the "USB devices disabled" notification at all. TM also seemed to work ok, but again, don't know if I can trust the HD not being corrupt when plugging it to another computer.

Also, yes, I tried the SMC/NVRAM reset method. The exact same thing happens. Left port completely unresponsive. Right one gives me the same pop up notification, (unless I plug the HD before turning the computer ON)

Thanks.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,200
5,543
OP:

Try a POWERED USB hub in the one USB port that still works.

This should give you a way to connect multiple devices without getting the warning that the port has been disabled because the USB bus can't supply enough bus power. The powered hub is supplying the power.

Yes, I realize that a powered hub will come with a "power brick" and that it's "one more thing to plug in".
But what works... works!
 
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dwig

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2015
652
238
Key West FL
OP:

Try a POWERED USB hub in the one USB port that still works.
...
That's a good idea. The OP's MBP may have a fried/crippled power supply service for the USB (the "stardust" in one port may be shorting the power contacts, ...) while still having working data transfer lines. A powered hub could well be a viable workaround.
 
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venom600

macrumors 6502a
Mar 23, 2003
807
446
Los Angeles, CA
The problem is that USB 2 ports didn't provide enough power to drive most external hard drives or high power devices. Back then it wasn't uncommon to see a two headed cable so that you could get power from two USB ports at once. If one USB port works, the answer is a powered USB hub. Firewire drive enclosures are crazy expensive. You can get a good USB 3 2.5" enclosure for $10. 5 years ago when I got my USB3 and FW800 enclosure I paid $60. Here's one for $51 on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sans-Digital-TowerSTOR-2-5-Inch-TS21UB/dp/B00I9RHNIS/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=firewire+800+enclosure&qid=1562170513&s=gateway&sr=8-7
 
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jdocdp

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
99
1
OP:

Try a POWERED USB hub in the one USB port that still works.

This should give you a way to connect multiple devices without getting the warning that the port has been disabled because the USB bus can't supply enough bus power. The powered hub is supplying the power.

Yes, I realize that a powered hub will come with a "power brick" and that it's "one more thing to plug in".
But what works... works!
Wouldn't the power brick be within the actual USB hub enclosure, though?

Or would it be like a laptop's charger which does not include the power brick in the laptop's enclosure, but rather on the charger's cable instead?

Sorry, never actually bought one in the past.

That's a good idea. The OP's MBP may have a fried/crippled power supply service for the USB (the "stardust" in one port may be shorting the power contacts, ...) while still having working data transfer lines. A powered hub could well be a viable workaround.
I tried removing the stardust residue from the unresponsive port, by using a non-electronic air blower, ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Phot-R-Professional-Hurricane-Dust-Blower/dp/B00MOLFPH6/ ) aiming at the USB ports.

No difference in the way the ports behave.
 

dwig

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2015
652
238
Key West FL
Wouldn't the power brick be within the actual USB hub enclosure, though?

Or would it be like a laptop's charger which does not include the power brick in the laptop's enclosure, but rather on the charger's cable instead?
...
They can be either way, but it is vastly more likely that the hub itself will not contain the power circuits for converting the mains power to the 5v used by USB. Other than a few big "docking station" class devices, all that I've ever seen have the power adapter either as a block in the middle of the cord or as a "wall wort". Many of these hubs can work both with their power supply or without. These days almost all such hubs will auto-switch between power modes, but some will have a manual switch.

Also, some, like one I have from Ugreen, don't come with a power supply as a cost saving measure. Mine can work either with our without external power and it auto-switches. It uses the common USB-microB power connector so you can use a spare cell phone charger for power when desired.
 
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jdocdp

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
99
1
They can be either way, but it is vastly more likely that the hub itself will not contain the power circuits for converting the mains power to the 5v used by USB. Other than a few big "docking station" class devices, all that I've ever seen have the power adapter either as a block in the middle of the cord or as a "wall wort". Many of these hubs can work both with their power supply or without. These days almost all such hubs will auto-switch between power modes, but some will have a manual switch.

Also, some, like one I have from Ugreen, don't come with a power supply as a cost saving measure. Mine can work either with our without external power and it auto-switches. It uses the common USB-microB power connector so you can use a spare cell phone charger for power when desired.
I see. Interesting insight you provided here. Are you advising I buy this UGREEN hub for my MBP?

If yes, I'd appreciate a link to it.

Thanks : )
 

jdocdp

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
99
1
They can be either way, but it is vastly more likely that the hub itself will not contain the power circuits for converting the mains power to the 5v used by USB. Other than a few big "docking station" class devices, all that I've ever seen have the power adapter either as a block in the middle of the cord or as a "wall wort". Many of these hubs can work both with their power supply or without. These days almost all such hubs will auto-switch between power modes, but some will have a manual switch.

Also, some, like one I have from Ugreen, don't come with a power supply as a cost saving measure. Mine can work either with our without external power and it auto-switches. It uses the common USB-microB power connector so you can use a spare cell phone charger for power when desired.
Sorry for bumping this months old thread, but due to some incidents, I ended up not using the MacBook at all, up until now.

Still though, I was thinking can I connect my external HD to a spare power bank I have (which I use when I travel, iirc 10000 mAh), and then connect them both to my MacBook's working USB port?

The power bank should be enough to provide proper power to the HD, no?

Let me know. Thank you very much. : )