By John Carter

Hi Net Neighbors! Welcome to Tech Tuesday, where we take deep dives into the issues plaguing you. This week we continue our Basic Computer Troubleshooting series with a common issue…

My Mouse/Keyboard/Etc Isn’t Working

Sometimes a piece of your equipment, a peripheral device to actual computer, will stop working. Maybe your keyboard doesn’t work right. Maybe your mouse won’t click properly. And don’t get me started on printers!

Resetting your Computer

Many of these problems have very banal solutions and they start with a simple question; “Have you reset your computer?”

This seems like an overly simple solution for what would be a complex problem, but it often works. Think of a computer like a person. Imagine being tasked with multiple objectives that all need to be done at the same time. Some of those tasks can be run simultaneously while others are going to need contradictory skills or tools. If you get too many contradictions everything starts to fail, and you have to stop. With people, we often tell them to go lay down, rest, and start fresh in the morning.

Computers are the same way. Only their rest and start fresh is called rebooting.

When you ask a computer to do too many things at once, metaphoric wires can get crossed and the system becomes too entangled in itself to figure out what to do. This is often when we see mice and keyboards cease functioning. Turning off your computer and turning it back on again can ‘uncross’ those wires. This occurs because the startup sequence in your computer has as part of its function a checker that runs through the systems and ensures everything is working properly.

Is it plugged in?

Another potential cause of peripheral malfunction has a connection to a question we addressed last week, “Is it plugged in?”

Depending on your computer and how you use it peripheral connections can become loose over time, thermal expansion and contraction pulling things apart ever so slightly. If something isn’t working, then try unplugging the faulty device and plugging it back in. You may have to restart the computer after doing this.

Laptops are especially susceptible to loose connections. As we move our laptops around, plugging in peripherals and unplugging them, the connections in our devices expand. Think about how hard it was to plug in your mouse two years ago and think about how hard it is now. It’s easier now because the USB connection is looser than it was. You could try gently squeezing the metal on that connector to make the fit a little tighter or get another device. Either way, if you must have the wire ‘just right’ to get it to work you’re probably looking at a loose connector.

Is it dirty?

Although this tip is primarily for keyboards it can apply to mice too. Is it just dirty? With keyboards this can be an especially important question. Over time hair, crumbs, dust, and more can accumulate in the hollows of our keyboards. Thankfully, this is a relatively easy fix. One way to do this, and remember this is only for traditional desktop computers, is to take the keyboard, flip it upside down, and shake it. Shake it and watch the debris rain out. I will say, from personal experience, this can be rather cathartic. If you don’t want to shake it out, or you have a laptop, you can always purchase a can of compressed air and blow the crumbs away. Remember to not look at the nozzle while you are doing this.

Whatever you do though, DO NOT put your keyboard in the wash!

What about the drivers?

This is the most technical part of this week’s post, but it is something you should know about. In your computer there are series upon series of instructions on how to do things known as drivers. Think about drivers the way you might think about tying your shoes. After years of doing it you just tie them, right? You don’t need to think about it. That would be a driver. Some automatic thing you had to be taught then it becomes wrote.

Well sometimes in people those automatic things can become corrupted. Imagine getting hit in the head and forgetting how to tie your shoes. You would have to be trained in it again. The same is true for computers.

Drivers can fail all the time for a host of reasons. Sometimes drivers from one device get confused with drivers from another. This can, as was stated earlier, be fixed by restarting your computer. Other times drivers are erased or corrupted during a system update. This usually happens to printers, high-end video cards, and other items that might not be an across-the-board standard.

To find out if your drivers are faulty is an easy proposition. Tech Junkie has a decent write up that I will link here:,reported%20cases%20of%20updating%20drivers%20being…%20More%20

The crux of it is this, go to your Windows Device Manager and make sure none of the items have a small yellow triangle. If they do, then that device definitely has a problem.

Once you know what device is having a problem go to the manufacturer’s website directly, not a 3rd party site, and download the drivers from there. Most manufacturers make downloading and installing drivers easy, even going so far as to provide downloadable checkers designed to always keep their drivers up to date. Whether you use it is up to you, but it can be handy.

Anything else?

Why yes, I’m glad you asked. Sometimes stuff just wears out. If you think this has happened to you, try a friend’s device on your computer. If their mouse works and yours doesn’t then go get yourself a new one.

Also, try a different port. Sometimes one USB port on your computer can fail while the others still work. So even if the mouse is fine if it is plugged into a faulty port it still won’t work.

Sounds good.

Indeed it does. While there is more I could go on about, I will leave you here. These are good things to check out if your peripherals fail on you. Next time we will be looking at why your computer may be constantly resetting on its own.

Until then, have fun, find adventure, and stay safe.

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