Quick Fix: Fixing a loose Micro USB Cable

Almost everyone has a smartphone or another device that connects with a Micro USB cable. And almost everyone has had a cable become loose over time and not fit securely. It can be infuriating to have the cable drop out a the slightest movement or to head endless pings from your computer telling you the cable disconnected. Rather than throw out a cable and get a new one, here’s a simple 5-min fix that can restore your cable back to new (or at least make it stay put).

On most Micro USB cables there are a pair of metal tabs on one side. The problem is that over time these tabs can be flattened. When that happens the USB cable will be come loose unless the port is particularly tight. The way to fix this is to raise the tabs and then fold them over, making for a tighter and sturdier fit.

Micro USB cable tabs

The first thing we need to do is to raise the tabs. I used a  precision flat screwdriver to lift the tabs as pictured below. You want to be careful doing this. While the tabs are metal they are also quite thin; bending them too much repeatedly can is will snap them off. You goal is to get them at about a 45 degree angle. Once done we can move on to the next step.


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Now that the tabs are properly raised we want to fold them over to help them to keep their shape. I found the easiest way was to take a staple and slide it under the tabs. It should be small enough to fit under the tabs without being too thick. Once you have the paperclip in position, use the screwdriver (or whatever tool you’re using) to gently but firmly push down on the ends of the tabs until they fold over the paperclip. When you’re done, remove the paperclip and you’re done.

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Your USB should fit snugly into the USB port. Be careful the first time you plug it in as it may be fairly secure depending on the device’s port. You should be able to repeat this any time the cable starts to get loose  too keep the cable snug. This method can probably be adapted to other cable types that use similar tabs to secure the cable.

Hopes this saves you some time, frustration and money. Til next time!

Sources:

  1. Micro USB Cable Image – alibaba.com

  • fathernicolow

    FOCUS!

  • sasko

    Great but my micro-b connector doesn’t have these tabs. Anything I can do about it?

    • Zed

      Sotter some little bits to it?

      Or just get a new one

    • Henry Helper

      On the ones that don’t have tabs, the metal sheath should be wrapped around with a seam on the same side the tabs would be on. Work something flat into that seam to make it stick up a bit. Should do the trick.

  • Luke

    You sir, are a genius. This seems to be the only real solution available to my usb problem.
    1 internets to you.

  • Sarah

    Wow! When I took a look at my micro, I was shocked at how micro it really is. Even under a magnifying glass, I struggle to see if it resembles the illustration you shared. I am going to give this a try though. I’m relieved that it is probably the cable and not my tablet; got my fingers crossed. Thanks so much for the lesson 🙂

  • Shane

    Also, if you have the solid metal type of spring lug which wont allow a staple underneath, you can still force them up by gently bending the metal housing of the connector in relation to the plastic/rubber mould to reveal the buried spring lugs.

    Then, if your thumb nail is long enough, you can slide it under one or both of the metal spring lugs.

    At this stage, while your thumb nail is under the spring lug/s, bend the metal housing of the connector back to straight (or slightly further again) thus bending the spring lug so to cause it to poke more outwards from the metal housing.
    Done.
    What have you got to lose? Apart from maybe breaking a fingernail.

  • Steve

    I found that using a sewing needle alone and prying the connectors upward (in the same fashion as illustrated with the staple above) worked perfectly for me. Just peek picking away at the end of the connector, and it will eventually bend up. Just be careful not to stab yourself.

    • Nathanael

      Can verify. This seems like the easiest way to fix the problem, though a new cable would probably be the better long-term solution. Just be careful not to break the pins or bend them sideways.

  • max

    Buy yourself a set of jewellers screwdrivers, a cheap set will do fine ( <$2). They're great for fine stuff like this or fixing eyeglasses etc. Far safer than needles, staples etc and far easier to use.

  • Kenny Campbell

    Have had all sorts of problems with micro usb connectors. Will trytthis! Thanks!

  • Kenny Campbell

    Have had all sorts of problems with micro usb connectors. Will try this. Thanks!

  • Le Grand Redditor

    Dust and lint readily accumulates in the microUSB female end. If raising the tabs still leaves the connection a little loose, you might want to consider cleaning the lint out of the female end. A sharpened toothpick and small guage wire help with this tremendously. You may be surprised how much dust there really is.

    • juswonderin

      As a general rule using wire or any other conductor in USB ports (or any other connector) is not a good idea unless you are SURE the device is totally powered down (including battery, such as in phone or laptop or tablet, etc.)

      Best policy is to stick with non-conductors!

  • BoinLV

    Many, many thanks – – Worked like a charm!

  • Benjamin long

    Verified. Works. Tightened up 3 micro usb phone chargers this way for a solid charge. Thank you very much for the detailed explanatiin and pictures.

  • juswonderin

    It is perfectly clear that the move to device charging by the incredibly delicate and inadequate micro usb port is just another way to have “your stuff” go bad so you’ll buy more. What a horrific waste of money and material (ecological concerns) and man-hours and productivity world-wide! I have a simple cell phone that has a “real” charging connector that I’ve kept charged continually since 2006 and it still works perfectly. Complain to your device mfrs!

  • Paul M

    Fucking hell. What a horrible design micro usb is. On my 3rd cable now because this keeps happening to me. Cable manufacturer conspiracy I swear.

    • It’s all a matter of brand and how you use it. For me, Cable Matters brand cables from Amazon have held up fairly well. They use a spring loaded tab rather than the metal tabs of cheaper cables.

      • Paul M

        Thanks for the tip. I’ll take a look. I’m using them for a ps4 controller. So far the ones i got from Best Buy and EB Games were crap

    • Andon M. Coleman

      Third? I’d kill to have your problem 🙂 I go through 10 of these every 3 months. Why they use this standard for devices that are meant to be handheld like game controllers I will never in a million years understand. Mini USB was perfectly functional and there is no benefit to shrinking on game controllers, just headaches when the cables fail.

  • Gardenwife

    What about the connectors that don’t have tabs you can lift? I have several Amazon Basics and Anker micro USB cables which seemed great at first, but then began to fit increasingly loosely as the prongs in the micro connector apparently compressed . What brand of cables have the tabs like you show here? That’s the only design that makes sense.

  • Andon M. Coleman

    If only they’d obsolete this entire standard and hacks like this were not necessary 🙁 I’d rather have bulkier phones that use Mini USB than deal with this failure of a cable standard.

    KUDOS to you for finding the one solution that has actually worked though. I was almost tempted to freaking solder the cable directly to some of my devices (e.g. Xbox One / PS4 / Steam controllers).

  • James Hawkins

    I fail to see how this can effectively address this problem since the actual contacts are inside the plug itself and the pressure made to ensure the contacts make their connections have more to do with the connector “squeezing” onto the male tab–this “fix” appears to do more to hold the plug still.. Also many micro usb connectors do not use a design that can be modified in this way… All usb plugs are poorly designed, would never have been designed this way for a mission critical plug and the standard should be replaced, asap… it no doubt will eventually, say after 20million tons of these things clutter up landfills.

    • ktulu789

      I just fixed the inside pins with a needdle and a lot of patience and care. Just the two for charging, it took three minutes to fix it.
      Helps looking at a working plug, the difference on the pins height is very visible.
      Yeah, the standard sucks, I knew it when I got my first device with micro USB plug ten years ago, so… late for complaints 😛

    • Sofa

      Yep, hopefully USB C has durability. My main issue has been with my wireless Micro-USB headphones. My dog jumps on my cable while it’s plugged in once and it’s gone. Hopefully with USB-C’s internal architecture it’ll hold up better.

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