I get a lot of stuff on line, and much of it is really cheap. This particular USB Hub seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. So I ordered it. £8? You can’t go wrong.
It looks nice enough. A mains adaptor so that you have extra power and you won’t put a strain on the USB system in your computer. A nice flat cable (which turned out to be a stroke of luck, at first!), and 7 outputs for all your accessories.
I tested it on an old computer, which had an add-on USB3 board, and the computer wouldn’t boot! However, when I disconnected the mains power from the hub, and allowed it to be powered entirely by the computer, it worked just fine. But the computer I bought it for was my new build, a Mini-ITX computer which only had two exposed USB3 sockets, one of which was dedicated to the CD/DVD-RW drive. You can see the flat blue cable where the hub is plugged in at the back.
The reason that the Hub only worked if I removed its power supply, was because it was backpowering along the +5v supply lead. I’ve read that it can be a serious problem with some types of motherboard, particularly the Raspberry Pi. There is a simple cure for this, made simpler by the fact that the cable was flat. I stripped off a little bit of the outer insulation from the middle of the lead, and cut the red wire. Then I soldered in a Schottki Diode, which enables the current to flow one way only, and tape it all up. Sorted!
However, the end of the problem was but temporary. More recently, I started to get weird messages on bootup, and depending on whether I booted into MX-Linux or PCLinuxOS, other things like a much delayed bootup, or even the keyboard and mouse becoming unresponsive when I finally got to a desktop (PCLinuxOS), or only the three USB sockets nearest the end working.
The actual chip that divides up a single USB port into many, is 4-way. To get 7, three of its outputs go to the first 3 sockets, and the other one goes into a further chip. When I managed to get PCLinuxOS started with the keyboard and mouse working, the Kde Info Centre showed me that I had a 4-way hub, but there was something plugged into it which was returning some obviously broken data. I couldn’t get any info from MX-Linux at all.
The unit hasn’t been bashed about, it’s actually been blutacked to my desk, so this is very disappointing. I’ve splashed the cash on an Anker model, with 7 ports plus 3 more high-powered USB charging ports, silly money but I hope it works without backpowering or burning out!
Addendum: Anker model waste of money
After a short time, the Anker model started behaving erratically. In this case the problem seems to be the power supply. And Anker found a simple solution to the problem of backpowering: don’t connect the power lead from the computer. The upshot is that if the power supply switches itself off for some reason (which it does all too frequently) the 7 hub sockets are totally useless. As of course, are the three charging sockets. In the end I spent a fiver and bought a cheap, unpowered, 4-socket USB3 hub, a bit restrictive, but at least it works, reliably.