MacBooks are widely considered to be reliable laptops, but every now and then a seemingly trivial issue damages their reputation. A keyboard that doesn't type correctly, a screen that peels off, and now failed USB 2.0 accessories.
First reported by MacRumors, the USB problem might not be as serious as the others, but it has riled up a number of people who have taken to Reddit, Apple's Community page (opens in new tab), and other forums to voice their frustration.
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"I have an external USB hub connected to one on my Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports on my MacBook Air early 2020 model running Catalina 10.15.4," a user wrote on Apple's forums. "At random times during the day (2-3 times a day) my Logitech G602 mouse and external Apple Keyboard will stop responding completely and only a reboot will restore functionality."
Several others have encountered the same bug in which USB devices randomly stop working when connected to the latest MacBook Air (2020) and MacBook Pro (2020). These laptops only have Thunderbolt 3 ports, so users are required to plug in a dongle or hub to connect a USB Type-A device, like a mouse or keyboard.
As MacRumors notes, there is no way to trace back to the source of the issue. It doesn't seem to be a problem with a particular model or brand of accessory; People are running into problems connecting a wide range of devices, including keyboards, mice and webcams.
Most of the complaints cite a USB 2.0 connection, not the faster USB 3.0 or 3.1 variants. Endless attempts at solving the problem have been unsuccessful. Restarts, resets, switching accounts, Disk Utility repairs and other workarounds have all been attempted without any luck.
What to do now
Disgruntled MacBook Air and MacBook Pro owners have made the issue known to Apple, although the company has yet to address it publically. It's possible Apple is already working on a patch to fix the USB connectivity problem, and we're just not aware of it.
In the meantime, Apple has been replacing some affected systems with new models, although the problem could still persist with the new unit.
There is no obvious course of action right now for those who have encountered the problem. One user said they had luck using a CalDigit hub, but that's an extremely expensive accessory, so you're probably better off waiting for a patch -- that is, if this issue ends up being fixable via a software update, and not a hardware problem that needs repairing.