Saturday, December 28, 2013

How to Enable USB ports on Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 and USB device
I had encountered a situation where we need to move some data into a USB external drive from a 2008 Server box but the USB drive was not recognized by the server when plugged into the server port. The USB ports were disabled by default group policy. Here is the steps that you can follow if you such situation and need to make changes to the server machine so you can use an external USB drive to transfer data.

Even if it is a matter of changing or altering Group Policy it is always good to check other aspects like BIOS and Device Driver settings during the troubleshooting process. I have listed the troubleshooting steps for your convenience in order.


  • Check whether or not USB ports are enabled in the BIOS. If not then enable the ports and reboot the machine. Windows will automatically detect and install drivers for your usb device.
  • Check the device is shown in Device Manager and see what is the status of the device. If it is disabled in Device Manager, then enable it.
  • If the first two steps didn't resolve your problem then it is the time to check GPO settings. It should just be a matter of changing a setting from Disable to Enable.  Open your GPO mmc and navigate to the following settings
In GPO: Computer Configuration -----> Administrative Template  ------> System -----> Removable Storage Access 

If that setting is "not configured" or disabled then you have to enable it. 
Another way to play with GPO settings are to use RSOP.msc tool. See what settings are applied on the server machine in terms of GPOs. Execute gpresult /r from a command line to find which policies specifically have been applied via GPO. 

Warning:- If the USB ports have been disabled by your senior administrator or any other team member then there should be a reason behind doing that. It would be better to communicate with your admin groups to understand the reason and to make sure the alteration of the policy wouldn't affect your role badly. 

Another important thing you have to keep in mind while troubleshooting USB issues is the compatibility of the devices. If the drive you are trying to use is USB 3.0 and the server box only have USB1/1.1 ports, it probably will not recognize the device. Sometimes even a USB 2.0 port will also face problems with a USB 3.0 device connectivity, but that is not so common.


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