Question USB 3.0 port burning out devices?

Jun 24, 2019
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Over the years I've rarely used external USB storage of any kind. But more recently, I've used it for backups and to occasionally copy media to a USB stick to plug into a Smart TV.

In the past 2-3 months, I have "burned out" 3 different brand new (no more than 1 month of use) USB devices. Now technically I don't know if the items were "burned out" but I use that term because the USB devices were quite hot.

Case #1 - Sandisk 32GB USB stick no more than week old. First few days I copied a few files here and thereto test on my Smart TV - no issues. I then tested some larger file and again no issues. Next I tried a mass transfer of maybe 10-15GB of content in one drag and drop in Windows. Somewhere in the middle Windows complains it can no longer access the USB drive. I test it in multiple device and it' can't be read. The device USB port is quite hot, certainly hotter than any I've ever felt. I do some research online and Sandisk USB sticks dying isn't quite so rare - so I dismiss it being an issue with Sandisk.

Case #2/3 - I have an external USB enclosure that can hold 2 drives. I use this primarily for backup purposes and will queue up 20-50GB of data at time to copy to it. Worked a few times. But on another try again same issue, Windows complains it can't write to the drive anymore and sure enough BOTH the enclosure and the drive it was writing to are both bad. The other drive in the enclosure is still good and the transfers I did to it were successful. Oh and the failed drive happens to be a Sandisk SSD. The enclosure is StarTec. Note the enclosure is toast. Even the "good" drive can't be read from it anymore - but thankfully it can be read though a functioning device/connection.


What I see in common here is short bursts of transfers are fine and don't generate much heat. Sustained transfers lasting several to tens of minutes run quite hot and tend to be problematic in my small sample size.

I would like to get some perspective on what the problem may be. Does this seem to be an issue with the power and voltage? Or is this just a "common" issue with USB 3.0+ with it running very hot? Again it seems lots of people have had Sandisk USB sticks fail out.

I am running an ASUS Z87-PRO and i5-4590 Haswell. Everything is running with out of the box/default settings. In my younger days I may have tried to overclock it, but nothing of the kind here. Power supply is Corsair CX430 80 Plus Bronze. The USB devices only go into the PC when I need to transfer data, other wise they sit disconnected.
 

Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
Were all of the USB devices connected to the same USB port or different USB ports on the motherboard?

Or are you using some USB (3.0/2.0) PCIe adapter or front USB ports on the case?

However, if even the external USB devices are getting hot something is wrong.

I would use a multimeter to test the USB port voltage. Test is not under load but may reveal an out of spec 5 voltage supply.

https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-wire-a-USB-cable-to-a-multimeter-for-measuring-voltage-and-intensity

If you have a multimeter and know how to use it then check the voltage(s). Or get a knowledgeable family member or friend to help.

Heat indicates too much current for the device and/or resistance within the device.

Here is a link (somewhat aged) with more information:

https://www.premiumusb.com/blog/why-flash-drives-get-hot

From the link:

"So what causes the USB to get hot? Well, one reason is through consistent use. USBs are used to store and transfer information between the USB itself and the host computer. This constant transferring of information causes the USB to heat up. The reason it heats up is because it takes energy to transfer your files. Often times through repetitive use, excess energy is used and transferred into heat."


So the size of the transfer may indeed be a factor.

One thing that may help is to use a USB extension cable to move the USB device (especially a flash drive) up and away from the computer.

Into "cooler air" so to speak.

Another possible solution is to use an intervening independently powered USB 3.0 hub. Plug the hub into one of the computer's USB ports and the device into the hub.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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The ports are on the motherboard. There are two open ports in upper area and I honestly don't recall if the failures are coming from only one of them. I typically just plug into whichever one is more convenient at that point in time. Now when I say the device is hot, I'm just referring to the Type A male connector. It's not as though the entire stick or drives are hot throughout.

That's a great idea on using an extension cable. I suppose if there is excess current it would still pass through the extension.

A little surprised the current wouldn't be regulated (by a standard of sorts) in some manner out of the box - we are talking a computer motherboard port, along with storage devices meant be connected to a computer. It's not like I'm trying to plug in some power adapter made for Device X, into Device Y and hoping it works.

I did a quick search and found this; not sure it's the right tool for my case:

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/check-power-output-usb-port/

This constant transferring of information causes the USB to heat up. The reason it heats up is because it takes energy to transfer your files.

I've got to imagine people are doing much larger and longer transfers than mine. My USB stick is only 32GB and my external HDD's are 500GB and 240GB respectively. It's looking more and more like an environmental issue with my PC.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Using USBDeview, with a USB 3.0 stick plugged into a USB 3.0 port, it measures 896mA which is in spec (max is 900mA).

Next I take that USB 3.0 stick and plug it into a extension cable. USBDeview picks it up as UBS 2.1 and the power is 224mA. I assume the cable does not support 3.0 - it's just an older cable I found in my box of random computer parts.

A copy to the USB 3.0 stick over the extension does raise the heat on the stick (on the Type A connector head) but not nearly as much as directly plugged in. But this could just be due to lower speed and power. I need to find a USB 3.0 complaint extension cable.
 

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