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I recently had thougts about my current setup in my office, especially about the UBS ports distribution.

Here's my setup: I have a Lenovo T410 docked to a Lenovo Dockingstation Series 3, that providey me with 6 USB ports, which I use all (3 ext. drives, mouse, keyboard, USB Hub of monitor). The USB hub on my ext. monitor (most probably powered by the ext. monitor's power supply) provides me with 2 USB ports, where I use one for my webcam and another for USB sticks. On my T410 itself I have 4 USB slots, that are usually not used, as don't want to mess with USB plugs when undocking my laptop, now and then I plug my printer on one of these, just because I don't have any UBS ports left.

Now I'm wondering how fast each of these slots are: I assume that all the 6 USB ports from the dockinstation somehow go through the docking connector on the bottom of my laptop. Does this connector has such a big bandwidth for all these 6 USB ports to perform like if they were dedicated ports as the 4 ones on my laptop? Also how is generally the performance of USB hubs (like the one on my ext. monitor?)?

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I don't have time for a good answer now, but basically the farther you go from the USB controller on the motherboard, lower performance you'll get. So your monitor is going to be the slowest. Also note that the bandwidth is shared among devices on same hub, so you should experiment in order to have each of external drives connected to a different hub in the docking station if possible. – AndrejaKo Oct 16 '11 at 14:42

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