Computer hardware

How Do I Install a USB Hub on My Computer?

April 12, 2009

in computer hardware

by Tina Gasperson

If you use a lot of peripheral devices with USB connections, such as flash drives, Web cams, wireless network adapters, keyboards, and other input devices, but you don’t have enough USB slots built into your computer, you can get a hub to expand your system’s USB capabilities.

There are two kinds of USB hubs: self-powered, and bus-powered. The self-powered hub requires an external power source and a free USB port on your computer. The self-powered hub is more reliable when it comes to attaching high-power-draw peripherals like printers and scanners, since the amount of power is much greater when the device is plugged directly into a power outlet. The bus-powered hub draws its power from the computer itself and so is best when used to run low-power USB-dependent devices like keyboards or mice.

Many USB hubs can run in either self-powered or bus-powered mode. The only difference is whether you use an AC adapter to plug the hub into a wall outlet or not. In self-powered mode, you simply connect the hub via an open USB port, and wait to see if Windows recognizes the new device. If it does, you’re set. If it doesn’t, unplug it, run the CD that came with the hub to install the drivers, and plug the hub into the USB port again. This time, Windows will recognize it.

Now plug in your USB devices. If the hub doesn’t recognize one or more items, it may be because they want to draw too much power. In that case, you need to grab the AC adapter that came with your hub and plug it in, one end into the hub and the other into the nearest wall outlet.

You can also use your USB hub as an extender device, commonly called a “repeater”. USB cords are never more than 5 meters long because if was any longer, the device wouldn’t pull enough power. If you need a longer cord, plug it into a USB hub, then plug another cord into the hub and you’ve just doubled the distance.

Tina Gasperson (, affectionately known as Computer Lady by her family, has been writing about IT, home computing, and the Internet for more than a decade.