How to Add More USB Ports to a Computer

Authored by: Tech Pro Team

1. Introduction

USB Ports on PC case.

Many electronics nowadays and the majority of computer peripherals connect to other devices or are powered up through a USB connection. If your computer or other device runs out of available USB ports, there are a few ways to add more.

This guide will show you what available options are there to do that.


2. Add USB Hub

4-Port Non-Powered USB Hub.

A USB hub is a device similar to a power strip, but instead of having multiple power sockets to connect devices to, it has USB ports, and what it does is it splits up the capability of a single USB port into multiple ports. They come in different shapes and sizes with a variety of features. When deciding what type of USB hub to acquire, there are a few things to consider:

  • Build quality and safety
  • Location and position of device that needs more USB ports
  • Power requirements of devices that need to be connected
  • USB version, number of ports design and layout
  • Extra features

Build quality and safety

Not all electronics are made equal. Some are more expensive due to being made by certain companies or due to having certain capabilities, but also due to their internal construction and safety features. Poorly wired, insulated and protected USB hubs could possibly lead to one or more of your attached devices getting fried. Depending on your budget and how extensively you'll be using the USB hub it may be worth getting an informed opinion from reviewers, sellers or other buyers when deciding whether to pay more or less for it.

USB standard and connector type

  • USB standards have evolved over the years. It is best to always go with the latest standard, which at the moment is USB 3, as it offers increased data transfer speeds, decreased power consumption, increased power output, and is also backward compatible with older USB 2 devices. USB 3 ports may be easily distinguished from older ports by their blue color or label next to them.
USB 3 and older USB ports side by side.

  • For certain devices you may just need to check their documentation to find out which USB standard they use.
  • Connector types have evolved as well. Most devices have USB Type A ports to connect other devices to them. After USB 3 became the new standard, the USB Type C port was developed and started becoming popular with certain devices.
Type A and Type C USB ports pointed out on MacBooks.

Power Source

USB devices have different power requirements depending on their type. When it comes to power source, USB hubs can be of two kinds:

  • USB hubs that have their own power supply. This is the best choice for most situations, but it also depends on whether there is a power source nearby the device that needs more USB ports.
  • USB hubs that draw energy from the device that needs more USB ports. These can be useful when you're traveling or when you only need to connect self-powered devices such as printers, or low energy devices such as a keyboard and mouse, headset, Bluetooth dongle, flash drive.

Other things to consider

Other things to consider could be the hubs design, number of USB ports and their layout, or features such as having a power switch for the entire hub or individual power switches for each USB port, having USB ports that allow only to power up or recharge devices, having smart charging ports that put out more power to recharge devices faster.

USB hub with separate data and smart charging ports.

3. Add USB Expansion Card

If you are working with a desktop computer, increasing the number of available USB ports can also be achieved by adding a USB expansion card. While this sort of thing cannot be done to laptop computers or all-in-one units, it can be a more ideal option for desktop computer users. Because adding expansion cards of any kind is a more advanced procedure that involves accessing the internal components of your machine, it is recommended that this sort of upgrade be handled by a professional.

USB Expansion Card.