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USB Hubs - good or bad?

Posted on 2009-07-11
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
Have purchased new Vista PC and need more USB ports than it has. What is + or - of using those USB Hubs which connect to 1 PC port and allow either 4 or 6 USB port connections on the HUB.

Is there a difference in specs or manufacturer re: which performs best? On my old PC, I always got a message like "device would run better if connected directly to PC USB port..." so I'm wondering what to do.

Please advise. Thanks.
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Question by:photoman11
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12 Comments
 
LVL 66

Assisted Solution

by:johnb6767
johnb6767 earned 320 total points
ID: 24831580
I never saw that message, just the one about "it would perform better ina  2.0 port"
Basically, make sure that you get one that has it's own power source. That way you wont have any issues with devices not working due to not enoug power at the hub....Thats about the only - I have....
Oh, and make sure it is USB 2.0.
 
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LVL 7

Assisted Solution

by:MentorJay
MentorJay earned 320 total points
ID: 24831583
If you are using a USB2 hub, you shouldn't get that message.
My rule of thumb is to connect the devices which get the most traffic (hard drives, burners) to the motherboard ports, and low-traffic (Scanners, printers, etc) to the hubs.

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LVL 23

Assisted Solution

by:ComputerTechie
ComputerTechie earned 640 total points
ID: 24831958
I also try to get a usb hub that has firewire if you use firewire device like a camcorder.

CT
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 24833824
you can use any USB hub you like, but i recommend buying a Powered Hub, so the devices do NOT load your usb chips of the PC, or burn them out.
any usb port provides only 0.5 A at 5 V = 2.5 W max.
and you can connect up to 127 devices to it.
an example :  http://www.blueunplugged.com/p.aspx?p=136511
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:BusyChill
ID: 24835720
You could also get a PCI card that has 4 or more ports, I have one and it works perfectly.
No hassle with additional power supply for the hub, which you need if you want it really working as it should. Many times one device uses all the power.
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Author Comment

by:photoman11
ID: 24836089
Thanks everybody. That helped a lot.  Just to make sure I understand what you're saying...

I will be good to go if I get a POWERED 2.0 USB Hub. If I do, I won't have any problems with Vista or messages regarding devices running faster if they were connected DIRECTLY to the USB port on my PC. Right?

Are all powered USB hubs, powered the same (in other words .5 A at 5 V)?

A salesperson from Best Buy told me that the USB ports on the front of most computers are generally not shielded or wired as well as the ones on the back. Is this true? If it is, would that mean that they should only be used for connections that are periodically made, as opposed to devices that are always used when the computer is on?
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LVL 2

Assisted Solution

by:pewpewdink
pewpewdink earned 320 total points
ID: 24836292
for one, never listen to a retail person at Best Buy, especially when it comes to Apple (side note)

HOWEVER, he is (somewhat) on the right path that cheap OEMs (like Gateway) build with cheap cases, and are bad in general. But of course they are not wired the same, because the ones on the back are soldered directly to the motherboard, where as the front case ones are wires that connect to leads for "external" USB on the board. In theory, all powered USB hubs are powered the same, because they must be standardized, but ive run into weird imported hubs with strange voltages, so just stick with a well known brand.
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:ComputerTechie
ID: 24836298
I agree  with pewpewdink i would ether go with the power hub or add a usb card to the computer.

CT
0
 

Author Comment

by:photoman11
ID: 24836342
Thanks again. By the way, my new PC is an HP so I don't know if they follow the good or cheap wiring approach.

When it comes to USB hubs, what are some of the better-known brands (I don't need some elaborate reviews or anything, but to me one name is the same as the other in this particular niche).

And as a side note, on my old PC, I had installed a four port USB 2.0 PCI card, which worked fine. I just don't have any idea if this would also fit and/or work with my new HP PC. I could always call technical support I guess and hope I get somebody good. I can just see myself trying to install this PCI card myself and wind up shorting everything out or breaking something.

On the other hand, a new USB port won't risk breaking anything.
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LVL 23

Assisted Solution

by:ComputerTechie
ComputerTechie earned 640 total points
ID: 24836380
You usb card should work fine in the hp and is simple to install.
Your computer should install the drivers and work fine.

You could get an hp / belkin brand usb hub.

CT
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LVL 92

Accepted Solution

by:
nobus earned 400 total points
ID: 24837523
here a guide how to install the pci card :  http://lifehacker.com/135479/hack-attack-how-to-install-a-pci-card
and yes, it works on all XP pc's and later
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Author Closing Comment

by:photoman11
ID: 31602457
This really helped. Nobus, great article on pci installation, thanks!
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