Powered USB hub vs. unpowered USB hub

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Powered USB hub vs. unpowered USB hub
USB hub (usb-hub image by martina- from Fotolia.com)

USB hubs allow a greater number of USB peripherals to be attached to your computer at one time. Some hardware requires a powered hub to function correctly.

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Two types of USB hub exist. Self-powered hubs have a built-in power supply. Unpowered (bus-powered) hubs draw their power from the connected computer's USB port.


A self-powered hub includes a power supply jack. An external bus-powered hub has only USB ports. Bus-powered hubs may be built into other peripheral, including keyboards.


To connect several high-powered peripherals, a self-powered hub must be used; for low-powered devices, a bus-powered hub will suffice. High-powered peripherals require over 100mA of power, according to the USB Implementers Forum, and include digital video cameras and hard drives. Low-powered hardware includes keyboards, mice, memory-card readers and game controllers.


Bus-powered hubs are generally cheaper, smaller and don't require a power supply. This makes them ideal for use on laptops away from home. Self-powered hubs should work with any device, provided there is access to a power supply.


There may be a limit to the number of high-powered devices that can be used at once, even with a self-powered hub, depending on how much power each piece of hardware requires. If a device stops working or runs intermittently, it may be necessary to remove other USB peripherals.

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