Troubleshooting Common Problems with a USB Extension Cable

A USB in a laptop.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
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What You'll Need
USB hub
Top quality USB cable
What You'll Need
USB hub
Top quality USB cable

Troubleshooting common problems with a USB extension cable can determine if the problem is in the cable itself or the set up. USB ports are the most common ports used to connect devices to computers.

Many computers automatically install the devices without the computer needing to read a startup disk. USB extension cables are used to extend the reach from one device to another as well as to match the output of one to the input of the computer. There are many different types of USB extension cables available and depending on the length between devices, specific ones should be used. If not, problems like the ones described below may occur.

Device Cannot Be Found

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When connecting two devices together, such as a computer and a peripheral, the devices work when connected together but are not recognized when connected by the extension cable. Or an error message comes up stating the device cannot be found.


Check the actual extension cable. It may be defective or have a damaged or corroded connector. Replace the cable. If it still doesn’t work then it is a length issue. Many USB extension cables are considered passive extension cables. Their buffering capabilities are limited, which causes the problem above as well as signal losses.

Signal Loss

There is signal loss causing programs to freeze up.


Though it is said that USB cables can be extended as long as 80 feet for this connection, if the signal loss is occurring then it is recommended to switch to a USB hub or a cable that contains signal boost capabilities. A hub allows for multiple USB cables to be connected and run multiple devices. As an alternative, there is a USB repeater cable also available. This cable acts as a transparent hub. Downstream and upstream data traffic gets buffered eliminating signal loss.

No Sound

There is no sound when connecting a home theatre to a home computer using the extension cable. When the two devices are directly connected, there is sound.


The reason the sound is not working is that the resistance is too high. This happens because the distance is too far away. The maximum distance to be able to extend a USB cable for this specific configuration is 5 meters. Anything longer than that transfers no signal to the computer.

There are many grades of USB cables and extensions available. Many times increasing the quality of the cable will also obtain better performance from the devices which are connected. When purchasing a cable, take notice that there are numbers usually following the manufacturer’s name, such as 2.0 or 3.1. These numbers usually mean, the higher the number, the better quality cable.

Explore USB Cables on Amazon

If purchasing the cable online, commercial use extension cables are available. If the distance is something that cannot be shortened, this may also help with limiting problems. These are the same cables offices use in setting up their network.

Whenever encountering a problem with devices that connect to a USB cable, check the cable first, and the distance last.

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