This sounds more like an underpowered usb port, rather than a failed usb port.
The usb port only supplies 200ma power, most hdd require 500ma, especially if you are powering said hdd off the port.
I suggest installing SDE, then installing UrukDroid 1.0, then look in the UrukDriod dev forum for Sibere's V10 kernel - it raises the ma from 200 to 500, but even then, it's not a 'complete' fix - the port seems to share power with the display.
HTC Dream / CM6
Samsung Galaxy S III 16GB / Stock Jellybean
Archos A101IT 8GB / SDE: Stock 2.4.80 / UrukDroid 1.5
Acer Iconia A500 16GB / kjy2010 Honeylicious HC 3.2