Why does my USB hub suddenly stop working?

I use a USB hub for my mouse, keyboard and scanner. If I plug in an external hard disk into it, all my devices stop working. Any idea why this may be happening?

Small USB hub. Photo taken with a Canon Digita...
Image via Wikipedia

There are a couple of things to check, including making sure you have the most recent drivers for your computer and devices. However there is one thing you could check first. USB ports typically provide 500mA per port, which is fine for most devices. Hard disk however have a pretty high drain, in fact, some even come with a cable that plugs into 2 separate USB ports, just to make sure they have enough power.

If your USB hub doesn’t have a separate power supply, then my guess would be that you are exceeding the power that is being provided by the port; which essentially causes the port to fail. The best way to address this is to use a USB hub that has its own power supply and see if your problems go away.

The other thing to check out is that the USB hub isn’t over heating. I had a friend who would sit her hub on a tub of anti wrinkle cream, just to make sure it got as much air ciculation around it as possible.

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