Basic Troubleshooting Steps for the Plugable USB-BT4LE Bluetooth Adapter
The Plugable Bluetooth adapter works great in Windows, but Bluetooth is very complex, and many different issues can crop up that keep it from working correctly. This page identifies some of the common problems that can occur, and provides steps for identifying the most likely causes and solutions.
In our years of experience troubleshooting this adapter, it is usually not a problem with the adapter itself. Most problems are related to the driver or Bluetooth software, pairing issues, or environmental conditions such as radio interference. However, if it looks like your adapter is having problems and the steps below don’t help, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to help and will send a replacement immediately if the adapter is faulty for some reason.
The troubleshooting techniques on this page are completely optional. We are always happy to help with any questions or issues! Just contact as at email@example.com.
An Overview of Bluetooth Operation
As mentioned above, the Bluetooth adapter itself is pretty simple. It takes packets of data from your computer, encodes them into a radio signal, and sends them to your peripheral device. It receives radio packets from the peripheral device, decodes them into data packets, and sends them to the computer. This process can suffer in two ways: radio problems that block or corrupt the radio signal and problems with the hardware of the adapter itself. Adapter hardware problems will usually show up when the adapter fails to work at all.
Radio signal problems tend to show us as reduced range, frequent disconnections, and lag. In our experience, most radio problems are caused by radio noise coming from components in the host computer, especially poorly-shielded USB 3.0 ports and unshielded components in desktop computers. Radio problems can also be caused by objects between the adapter and the receiver blocking and absorbing the signal. Having a large number of strong Wi-Fi signals in the area can also cause radio problems, since Wi-Fi and Bluetooth use the same radio frequencies, but Wi-Fi is much more powerful.
The Bluetooth adapter gets its data packets from your computer’s USB controller through the USB port. A physical problem with the USB port will cause malfunctions. The easiest way to identify this is to try another port. Out of date, missing, or corrupted USB controller software will cause the adapter to malfunction regardless of the port it is plugged into.
When you plug your adapter into a USB port, the computer queries it for information about what kind of device it is. It then searches for a driver for your device. A driver tells Windows how to communicate with a hardware device and how to interpret the information it sends and receives. Using a wrong or corrupted driver means that Windows is not able to communicate with a device properly. Having drivers present for more than one Bluetooth device also causes problems because Windows does not know which one to communicate to.
Windows creates the data packets to send to the Bluetooth adapter in its Bluetooth stack. This is software arranged in layers that processes and prepares Bluetooth data for particular purposes. It also receive data from peripheral devices connected through the Bluetooth adapter and shapes into data that can be understood by other programs in Windows. The stack has separate modules, called profiles, that standardize how Windows communicates with particular Bluetooth device types, such as A2DP (stereo audio), HID (human interface devices like keyboards and mice), HSP/HFP (headsets and hands-free devices), and many more.
Different Windows versions come with different profiles. For example, while Windows 8 through 10 support Bluetooth audio, in Windows 7, Windows audio profiles and drivers have to be installed with third-party software, such as the driver packages on the Plugable website or the CD that comes with the adapter. Missing, corrupted, or incorrect profile versions will cause pairing and connection problems. Often a driver error for the peripheral will be reported in this case.
Windows establishes a connection with a Bluetooth peripheral through a pairing process. Typically, Windows acts as a host and the peripheral is put into pairing mode, where it advertises its presence to any nearby Bluetooth devices. Windows sees the peripheral and establishes low-level communication where it finds out the devices name and what kind of device it is. It displays the device information in the settings window that appears when you want to add a Bluetooth device.
When you tell Windows to pair and connect to a Bluetooth peripheral, Windows establishes a connection and asks the device what profiles it uses and what kind of security it supports. If Windows has those profiles available it uses them as guidelines on communicating with the device. It goes through the security protocol required by the device, sets up the connection, and is ready to communicate with it according to the purpose of that device.
Click your symptom below to go to the section that describes that problem. If you don’t see your symptom on the list or the suggested solutions don’t work, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to help.