Windows 10: Best USB Hub Choice - Run Multiple USB 3.0 Drives for Various Backups?

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  1.    08 Jun 2018 #1

    Best USB Hub Choice - Run Multiple USB 3.0 Drives for Various Backups?


    Pardon yet another, but I seem to breaking a lot of new ground this week.

    I bought 3x extra external drives to backup File History, Macrium and a manuscript writing programme I use to - the plan was a dedicated drive for each purpose. Add the all USB connecting router, general usage drive, set of headphones and printer and my old x3 port data only Kensington hub was requiring a lot of connecting and disconnecting of drives to get by.

    Which risks problems when backups are automatic, and the wrong drive is accidentally left disconnected when needed. Lots of wear to sockets etc too...

    So I bought an Anker 7-port (actually x7 data + x3 charging) hub - planning to run it from the 1,500mA USB 3.0 charging port (Asus Charge+ they call it) on my laptop with the hub's power supply disconnected. This should be easily able to handle the data ports and one charging port at once, and Anker's support said the unit had enough protection built in that either way it wasn't possible to damage or overload anything by connecting too much.

    That it just shuts down if it senses something wrong.

    It turns out however that (unlike the old Kensington unit) the Anker hub seems only to function when connected to it's own mains powered power supply - no matter how minimal the current drawn by the downstream devices.

    Which amounts unless I've got it wrong to a right PIA. The drives can't run if there's a mains power cut, disconnecting the hub from power requires first ejecting potentially x4 drives one by one on the laptop, and leaving the hub permanently powered up by its own supply adds incrementally to fire risk etc.

    How do those that know get around this sort of thing? Is there a powered multi-port charging and data hub which will run from a laptop charging port up to the limit of the available amps, but shut down if overloaded to protect the laptop's charging port?

    Thanks as ever...
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  2. Berton's Avatar
    Posts : 5,399
    Win10 Home and Pro, Win10 Insider Preview, WinXP Home Premium, Linux Mint
       09 Jun 2018 #2

    ondablade said: View Post
    Is there a powered multi-port charging and data hub which will run from a laptop charging port up to the limit of the available amps
    Not really. There's only a finite amount of power to the USB ports available with Notebooks. The USB 3 ports do provide more power to devices than the USB 2 version. There are 'pocketable' USB 2 and USB 3 HDDs available from several manufacturers [I use the WDC Passports] that can use the port power but they use the same type 2.5" HDD as in the Notebook and a single USB cable. The larger HDDs use 3.5" drives and require their own power supply due to the larger current draw. My experience shows running 2 or more external drives from a Notebook requires a self-powered Hub that matches the USB port, USB 2 to USB 2 and USB 3 to USB 3. Frequently single USB 3 drives can be run from USB 2 ports [backward compatible] but the performance suffers. Also seldom mentioned is that running things that require current draw can increase the internal heating in a Notebook [but that also applies to anything that uses electricity, causes some heating]. If wanting to reuse the 2.5" HDDs one can get a case made for the purpose but may have a Y-type USB cable as additional power is needed from the Notebook, depends a lot on the power requirements listed on the drive label.
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  3.    09 Jun 2018 #3

    Hi B. I guess it's possibly the 150mA available from a stock USB 3 laptop or other PC port that determines the design of most hubs, and of the power mangement arrangements they use.

    I hear what you are saying regarding heating, and it definitely could prove expensive if overloading (perhaps because the hub and the port in combination didn't have failsafe power management and protection) blew a port as they probably are a part of some larger board on a laptop.

    Mine is an Asus Zen Book Pro (UX501 VW) which has a USB 3 charging port. So far as I can tell it's rated at 1.5A/1,500mA. It has the usual USB symbol beside it, but with a lightning flash which designates it a charging/high current as well as USB 3 data port. It charges for example a phone very quickly, including from the laptop's battery even when it's disconnected from mains power and switched off.

    I guess I'd presumed as a matter of course that multiport mixed data and charging USB hubs would have a power management set up which would permit use of this power (which is plenty to run the drives I need and charge a single device) up to the point where the load became more than the port could supply before needing to connect the hub's power supply.

    Not in this case it seems, perhaps not at all. I suppose these high current USB charging ports are not all that widely in use...
    Last edited by ondablade; 10 Jun 2018 at 08:00.
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  4. Posts : 170
    Windows10 Home 64 bit v. 1803 bld. 17134.345
       09 Jun 2018 #4

    How about a good sized UPS to support the hub? If having all three backup systems automatically running, the data must be pretty important and worth the cost of a properly sized UPS.
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  5.    10 Jun 2018 #5

    Hi Jamis. Thanks for that. I wouldn't have thought of it, but a quick dig suggests UPS are very affordable now.

    Buying one wouldn't get around the issue of the Anker hub not running from the USB 3 charging port (guess I'll just have to bite the bullet on running a powered hub unless Anker support come up with an alternative in the coming days), but it would address concerns regarding power cuts and what happens in the event of. It'd also simplify the cabling under my desk big time, and probably give better protection than a socket block unit against power surges etc.

    My biggest concern is that I do some writing, and have a book on the go. So lots of irreplaceable work - it's not like you can just go back and re-write several years of research and collection of insights. The manuscript application (Scrievener) gives great flexibility, and for obvious reasons provides and strongly emphasises multiple redundancy in back up locations
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  6.    10 Jun 2018 #6

    Back again J. It's less clear following a closer look what a UPS would bring to the party apart from better protection of devices from variations in the power supply.

    The makers (took a close look at a Cyber Power Sinewave CP900 EPFCLCD-UK) are remakably coy about how much mains off backup run time they deliver, but it seems to be of the order of 10 - 15 min perhaps. ie long enough for an orderly shut down, but not to work on.

    So one seems likely to help most in a situation where devices are sensitive to/become problematical in the event of an abrupt loss of power..
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  7. Berton's Avatar
    Posts : 5,399
    Win10 Home and Pro, Win10 Insider Preview, WinXP Home Premium, Linux Mint
       10 Jun 2018 #7

    ondablade said: View Post
    Back again J. It's less clear following a closer look what a UPS would bring to the party apart from better protection of devices from variations in the power supply.

    The makers (took a close look at a Cyber Power Sinewave CP900 EPFCLCD-UK) are remakably coy about how much mains off backup run time they deliver, but it seems to be of the order of 10 - 15 min perhaps. ie long enough for an orderly shut down, but not to work on.

    So one seems likely to help most in a situation where devices are sensitive to/become problematical in the event of an abrupt loss of power..
    APC and Tripp-Lite [I use both] also don't make any claim as to exactly how long one can work on battery only although there may be examples. When I first got into using a UPS it was always plainly explained they were intended to provide time for an orderly shutdown of devices, save any work that was open. Of course the higher ratings give more time for the same devices but people tend to add more to them. Case in point, when I worked for the FAA we had standby generators at remote sites that took a few seconds to kick in after commercial power failure. That worked okay with older radios/electronics but with the newer digital radios it wasn't acceptable for their instant turn off so the UPS was added to give that additional continuous power until the generator got up to full service. The system also proved easier upkeep than using banks of large batteries.
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  8.    11 Jun 2018 #8

    I knew B that the primary function of a UPS was always to permit an oderly shutdown, but it was my wishful hope that a UPS might also provide a worthwhile battery based run time. Seemingly not.

    What is interesting is that on the face of it the the total load (mine calculates to 370W, and that's taking the full load amps for every item) is not all that great - it'd seem as though it wouldn't require anything very major by way of a battery to give a decent mains off run time.

    The UPS data sheets I've seen don't even list an amp hours rating @V for their batteries. Perhaps there are issues to do with the UPS itself drawng significant power, or battery capacity over its life being unpredictable.

    The bottom line for me is that I'm running nothing that's likely to be seriously messed up by a power cut. It'll stop new backups running, but there's plenty of redundancy in the scheme i'm using so the previously completed ones should be safe...
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  9. Berton's Avatar
    Posts : 5,399
    Win10 Home and Pro, Win10 Insider Preview, WinXP Home Premium, Linux Mint
       11 Jun 2018 #9

    Looking back through this I see I neglected to mention a thing I've done. When not having sufficient number of USB 3 ports on the computer I've added a PCIe X1 card containing 4 USB 3 ports where the motherboards allowed it. Power wasn't an issue as the External HDDs are Self-Powered, didn't need to draw additional power from the ports. A Search at Amazon.com for pcie x1 usb gives a number of choices, some are 2-port, 3-port plus 1 internal, 4-port and a maybe more ports. I would have posted a link but it brought up my account.
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  10. Posts : 170
    Windows10 Home 64 bit v. 1803 bld. 17134.345
       11 Jun 2018 #10

    Yes, the idea of a UPS is to provide enough run time for and orderly shutdown of the system. If you really need to run completely through the outage of the normal power supply, then you are into the standby generator arena. The small data center I used to manage had this setup to ensure our customers systems were available 24/7. Rather expensive for a single user. It is not uncommon in the area where we live now for individual homeowners to have standby generator systems installed outside of their homes. Also rather expensive, about $6K to $8K US.
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