USB Hubs seem like such a great idea at first – they sit outside the box, making them easy to install and use.  If you buy one that is powered (ie plugs into the wall) you should theoretically be able to hook anything up and use it seamlessly.

It doesn’t work that way. 

I have a desktop computer with all of the USB ports full.  (External hard drive, cordless keyboard/mouse, color printer/scanner, and link to the USB hub.)  Taking a clue from GTD/David Allen, I bought a Dymo 69110 LabelWriter 400 Turbo .  I plugged the label printer, along with the intermittently used digital camera and my ipod, into the USB hub.

It doesn’t work.  I talked to support who informed me that, despite the fact that the hub is powered and the printer is powered, it isn’t supported through a USB hub.  I talked to a bunch of techies and the final conclusion that I was out of luck.

So, tonight I went to Fry’s Electronics and bought a PCI USB/Firewire card.  Problem solved for $30 and time spent unplugging EVERYTHING, disassembling and reassembling the computer and then putting it all back together.  If I had known, I would have rather done that in the first place and not spent time trying to get the hub to work.

So here is my public service announcement:  If you have a desktop computer and need more USB ports, just start with an internal card.  Too many devices just don’t want to work through a hub, and troubleshooting it is more time and effort than it is worth.

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