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I am looking into getting a D-Link or Vantec powered USB hub, but I am not sure if it will solve my current problem - I have an external HD dock (for 2 hard drives), external sound card (Presonus Audiobox USB) as well as bunch of other hardware that I might want to plug into it INSTEAD of directly into the laptop... and I am wondering will they even work with the powered USB hub (as the hard drive dock doesn't work with the non-powered usb port replicator, the external audio card doesn't get recognized, etc, etc)?

Any ideas?

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Yes, your current issues stem from the USB ports you are connecting the devices to being unpowered. This means that the devices are not being provided enough juice to work correctly.

Plugging them into a powered hub is the correct way to address this.

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does that mean that even though the external sound card (for example) gets powered on (I see the light being on), but not recognized by Windows, that problem would get fixed if I used a powered hub instead? or you can't say for sure... – Crazy Serb Jan 25 '12 at 8:24
@CrazySerb: You can check that yourself by plugging that sound card directly into the computer itself. – surfasb Jan 25 '12 at 8:30

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