Consider USB Hubs When Expanding Your PC - dummies

Consider USB Hubs When Expanding Your PC

By Mark L. Chambers

If your PC already has FireWire or USB ports, but they’re already all taken, you don’t need to install an adapter card to provide your computer with additional portage; you can buy a hub instead.

(Of course, you can eject one of those devices and unplug it each time whenever you want to connect your digital camera, but that might involve turning your PC around and navigating through the nest of cables on the back.)

PC power users eschew such hassles. Instead, buy a hub, which is a splitter box that turns one USB or FireWire port into multiple ports. (Note: Don’t confuse a USB/FireWire hub with a network hub, which is an entirely different beast.)

Although using a hub fills a port, you gain four, six, or eight ports in the bargain (depending on the hub), and everything stays as convenient and plug-and-play as before. (It’s engineering that’s both simple and sassy.) A powered USB hub is a better choice than an unpowered hub because it can provide the AC current that many USB devices require to run.


Don’t forget to check whether a peripheral has one (or more) daisy-chaining ports on the back that will allow you to connect another device. You can tell that a device is designed for daisy-chaining by checking whether it sports two ports of the same type (like a scanner that has two USB ports).

If so, you should be able to daisy-chain additional devices. A series of daisy-chained devices will likely help you avoid buying a USB or FireWire hub because everything is still linked to one physical USB or FireWire port on your PC.

By using these methods, you can theoretically plug 63 devices into one FireWire port, 6 devices into one Thunderbolt port, and 127 devices into one USB port. Heck, not even James Bond can stack gadgets that high!