Thursday, September 27, 2018

Why the Keyboard Stops Working When Moved to a New Computer

Setting up a new computer is exciting - no unwanted software, faster hardware, and increased storage! What is not to like? When people replace computers they often also upgrade the monitor, even when the existing one still works. The reason for this can include:
  • Wanting better resolution, refresh rates or other benefits
  • Bigger screens are continually available for cheaper prices
  • Needing port connections that match the new computer
There is one piece people rarely replace when getting a new computer: THE KEYBOARD! 

It is important to note that the mouse is also often not replaced. The reason for this is because we typically purchase wireless keyboards and mice that best meet our particular needs. This may be only preference or for ergonomic fit. Additionally, keyboards and mice often last much longer than a computer, and the technology behind keyboards and mice changes much less rapidly than computer hardware.

Why the Keyboard Stops Working When Moved to a New Computer

Unfortunately, when setting up a new computer, sometimes the keyboard and/or mice will fail to work correctly. If you connect a wireless keyboard or mouse, regardless of whether they are connected with a cable or wirelessly via a single or multiple wireless receivers, the computer will often delay for a minute or two which is necessary to install the drivers for this new hardware.

Typical example of a wireless USB receiver that unifies a keyboard and mouse to prevent the use of multiple USB ports to use those devices.

However, sometimes even after waiting a few minutes, the existing wireless keyboard or mouse which works fine with the old system fails to work. The most common cause of this issue is that the USB receivers, or cables, were plugged into a USB 3.0 port on the new computer. USB 3.0 ports are visually easy to identify as they are blue, rather than all previous versions of USB ports which are black. 

Most new computers come with USB 3.0 and earlier versions in both the front and back of a device. This makes it easier for users to connect multiple peripheral devices. Unfortunately, it also makes it easier to accidentally plug a keyboard or mouse into a newer, faster USB 3.0 port and not all keyboards and mice work properly when connected to a USB 3.0 port. If you get a new computer and find the keyboard or mouse does not work when connected, check to see if it is plugged into a USB 3.0 port. If it is, move it to an older USB port which will almost always fix the issue. 

This is not to say that there are not any keyboards or mice that are compatible with USB 3.0 ports, but rather that if you plug a keyboard or mouse into a new device and it does not work, check to see if it is in a newer USB 3.0 port because it is possible it is not compatible with the USB 3.0 protocols.

Keeping an existing keyboard and/or mouse when upgrading a computer is sensible for many reasons. Being more comfortable with them makes them more efficient. Also keyboards and mice that come with new computers are usually wired which most people find less convenient. Lastly, it is a shame to throw out working equipment for no real reason. Instead, keep that equipment as a backup if ever needed. The easiest way to continue using an older keyboard and or mouse when replacing a computer is to make sure they are plugged into older, and more typically compatible, USB ports.

As always, it is imperative to know existing compatibility quirks to get the best usage out of your tech equipment and peripherals!

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