About two years ago, I couldn't get my usb devices to work on one of my computers. After googling it, and trying half a dozen things that didn't fix it, like editing the registry and uninstalling devices in Device Manager, I stumbled upon that suggestion, which worked. It was so simple, and only one guy figured it out. His post had about 300 responses, over a few years, from other people who were as happy as you to find a solution.
The explanation the guy gave was that removing the power from the system, and letting all residual power drain out for a minute, resets the BIOS configuration of the plug-n-play USB. So after you plug it back in and power on, the BIOS has to re-enumerate all USB devices. This clears whatever was causing the USB to hang.
What is weird for your case is that USB worked in some areas and in Windows, but not in the Linux side.
Glad it worked for you.
System: HP G72 laptop, quad-core i3, 4GB RAM, Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon 64bit