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USB Hub: A Portable USB Over Ethernet Extender
Olga Weis Olga Weis Last updated Sep 22, 2021

USB Hub: A Portable USB Over Ethernet Extender

Most of the peripheral devices that you use with your computer have a USB connector. You may have several peripherals like keyboards, external drives, and printers you want to use at the same time. And it’s highly likely that you will want to charge your smartphone from the same PC without having to disconnect a single piece of your equipment. But the harsh reality is that your computer or laptop has a very limited amount of ports, if not just two of those. So, as it seems, you’ll have no other choice but constantly swap the connectors. And get a decent USB extender over Ethernet as no machine is self-inclusive these days. Luckily, USB extenders can solve both problems plus the compatibility issue by expanding ports over cat5e or cat6 networks.

What USB hubs are and why you may need one

From a technical point of view, a hub is a piece of equipment that has a receiver with a certain number of USB outlets along with one (or several) RJ45 ports. So, if you’ve been looking for a hardware-based Ethernet extender compatible with USB, USB hubs are definitely worth your attention.

On top of that, using a hub will instantly increase the number of external USB devices your computer can support in parallel. You will no longer be limited by some laptop’s design and finally will be able to stop wasting time on dives under your table to swap cables to get your work done. Sure thing, some software solutions (e.g., FlexiHub) can extend a USB over cat5 or cat6 Ethernet even better while offering a slew of extra goodies. So you may want to give them a good and proper look.
FlexiHub
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Software for redirecting USB

Types of USB over Ethernet hubs

USB hubs come in a wide variety of types designed to meet the needs of any user. The first option we’re going to mention here is the extension card. It’s very popular among vintage laptop lovers and those unfortunate ones who accidentally purchased a laptop with no USB interface on it. Unfortunately, to use the card as a device extender over cat5e, you’ll have to buy some 5e cable too.

The vast majority of USB hubs are self-contained units one can use with any computer or laptop that has at least one USB port. They can be split into two broad categories: the self-poweredand bus-powered ones.

Bus-powered hubs draw their power from the connection to the host that can be a computer or another hub. These devices are often less expensive than self-powered hubs. Bus-powered hubs also are the most portable option, as you do not need to worry about finding an open outlet to plug in its power supply.

There is a potential price to pay when you go with the simplicity of the bus powered USB hubs. Your computer now must power not only the hub but also all the USB devices plugged into it unless they are self-powered. This power consumption can cause performance degradation in your host computer system. You will also drain your battery much quicker if working remotely with a laptop.

The self-powered USB hubs don’t have this problem for a pretty obvious reason. On the other hand, they are never cheap. Plus, you’ll have to deal with one more cord on your desk and go for a mission of finding a vacant power outlet every time you will be using it in a new location. So much for the portability, huh? But once you resolve these issues, you can use your hub to power and charge your devices with no concern over their impact on your computer.

You can obtain USB 2 hubs and USB 3 hubs that support the associated USB protocol. They can be used interchangeably as the connectors and ports are physically identical. You will, however, not be able to take full advantage of your USB 3 devices if you are using a USB 2 hub. To achieve the full 5000 Mbps speed and performance offered by USB 3 you need all ports, connections, and cables to be fully USB 3 compliant. Also, for maximum speed, make sure all your network cable is cat5e or better and keep all the drivers up to date.

Micro USB 5e hubs are also available for use with smaller devices like cell phones and tablets. These can be very handy for charging multiple devices from one that is plugged in and fitted with a micro hub. You can also use these hubs to attach external devices such as drives to transfer data to your mobile device.

Choosing the best option for your scenario

When buying a hub, consider where you will use it and what devices you plan on connecting through it. If you aim for the maximum mobility of being able to plug a bunch of devices into your laptop wherever you are, then you should opt for a bus powered hub.

If you work in a more stationary manner with a hub constantly attached to a 5e Ethernet network, it’s wise to opt for a self-powered one. Once in place, you can use it to connect and charge as many devices as it can take without any negative impact on your system. And desktop computer users can seriously consider an expansion card to get more USB ports on their machines, as long as they have plenty of cabling already.

There is no negative side to buying a USB 3 compatible hub. It may cost a little more, but it will be able to handle all USB 2 and USB 3 devices that you have. If your computer only has a USB 2 port, you may want to save a little and go with the USB 2 hub, as you will not be able to take advantage of the advanced features of USB 3.
USB HUB to extend USB through Ethernet
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  • Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and Raspberry Pi. 8.89MB Size.
  • Version 5.2.14094. (6 Sep, 2021).
  • Pricing starts from $14/month