In today’s computer world, almost all peripherals use USB ports. Whether you want to connect a printer, a scanner, an external hard drive, a flash drive, a joy stick, or even some types of speakers, you will find them competing for the same limited USB connections.
One option you may have, if you have available PCI slots in your computer, is to add a PCI USB 2.0 Adapter Cardwith multiple USB 2.0 connectors to your computer.
If you need Firewire connections, too, you can add a card that provides USB 2.0 and Firewire® connections), too. (By the way, Firewire is also known as "IEEE 1394").
The other option, especially if you have a large number of devices or devices that are powered solely by the USB connection, is to use an external, powered USB 2.0 hub.
You may be able to use an unpowered USB hub, which actually gets its power from the computer’s USB connection. Of course, there is a limit to how much power a USB port will provide. In my experience with my notebook, if I exceed the power limits of the notebook’s USB port, the port will be disabled until I reboot.
For USB 2.0, you want to use (or may have to have) a powered hub, especially with some models of flash drives.
Many people have had problems trying to run flash drives on unpowered USB2.0 hubs. However, my PNY Attaché flash drives and my Sandisk Cruzer Mini flash drive work just fine in USB 2.0 mode with all the unpowered hubs I’ve tried [knock on wood].
Since powered hubs include a power supply, they’re a little bit more expensive, but they increase your connection capabilities a lot.
Other items that get all their power from the USB port, such as portable external hard drives that get all their power from the USB port, may also force you to use a powered hub.
The following IS NOT just a hub issue; it is a USB issue:
The MOST IMPORTANT THING about USB connections is that Windows recognizes and loads drivers on a “per USB port” basis.
If you connect a USB device to USB port #1 on your computer and install the drivers, you’ll still have to install them the next time when you connect it to USB #2.
Now, when you add a hub, that’s adding more USB ports, so you see where I’m going with this — make a habit of plugging any device into the same hub port all the time – don’t keep changing which USB port you connect to, or you’ll end up adding the drivers once for each port you use. Some drivers, like mouse drivers, are included in Windows, so you don’t have to pull out the CD again.
On the other hand, any external device like a scanner you’ll have to “install” all over again to get the drivers installed for the new port, if you plug it into a different port than you did previously. It’s easier to unplug it and plug it back into the other port.