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I have a laptop with three USB 2.0 ports, and a 'gigabit' USB -> Ethernet adapter. With only 480Mbit/s, I can easily saturate that USB 2.0 connection moving things around on my local network. So my question is, with limited USB ports, is it worth giving the adapter its own plug (and I presume its own dedicated channel?) or does it matter if it's plugged into a USB hub (assuming that all USB devices share a single channel) along with other bandwidth-hungry devices.

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USB bandwidth is shared per channel, However, each port on a machine is often not on its own channel. Often each pair of ports is its own channel, and a hub would "condense" all its ports to one channel.

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