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Powered Vs. Unpowered USB Hubs

Omkar Phatak
Let us see the between powered and unpowered hubs, to help you decide which one to opt for. Read to know the difference between the two device types.
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) technology has quietly triggered a computing revolution, leading to an explosive growth in the usage of computer accessories. The most common storage devices used worldwide are USB flash drives and other devices based on the interface.
USB 2.0 offers data transfer rate of 480 Mbps and it is not surprising that it has become the default connection type for most hot-pluggable, as well as standard devices like printers and keyboards. Lately, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 have taken over the market, since they offer a data transfer speed of 5 Gbps and 10 Gbps respectively.
When there is a proliferation of connections that you need to make with your laptop or desktop computers, a USB hub comes in handy. They come in two types, which include powered and unpowered hubs.

About USB Hubs

With an extensive usage of USB ports and devices, your computer might fall short of ports you need. You need a hub for more connections if all the allocated ports are in use. It makes multiple connections possible via a connection with a single port. It multiplies the number of ports that you can use for connections to serve your needs.
Some of the best hubs have as many as 7 ports to connect your devices with. The two main types of hubs are powered and unpowered (or bus-powered) UBS hubs.
When a device is connected via a USB hub, power is required to make data transfer possible.

Difference Between Powered and Unpowered Hubs

The powered hub is a device that is supplied electric power from an external source, while the unpowered one derives it from the USB port of a host computer itself.
When a device is connected via a USB hub, power is required to enable data transfer. Unpowered hubs get their energy supply from the computer's USB port, which they are connected with and hence, there is an inherent limitation on how much power can be drawn by them.
Connecting more than two devices like printers to unpowered hubs may fail to function, as enough power is not supplied to ports for operation. These hubs are ideal for small devices like flash drives and card readers, that do not need a lot of power for operation. However, a powered hub is the right choice for devices like printers and external hard drives.
When you have a powered USB hub, the working of any device connected through it stays relatively unaffected, as there is ample allocation of electric power. Self-powered hubs are made to handle multiple high power consuming devices, while unpowered hubs are best used with very low power drawing devices.
The best hub is one which provides multiple device connectivity and still sustains connectivity and high data transfer speeds quite easily. Devices that are connected to a hub, but are not being used, do not use the power. Carefully study reviews before you buy one.
To sum up, if you are connecting multiple high power consuming devices, then it is best that you go for a powered hub that can sustain high data transfer speeds for all of them. The unpowered hubs can be opted only when using low-power devices like USB flash drives. The choice is quite simple if you know what your exact requirement is.