Your Windows computer probably has two or four USB connectors, but you can attach many more USB devices to it than that. In theory, you can attach 127 USB devices to one computer. If you keep that many devices, you probably have no space left to sit down!
To attach additional devices, you need the USB equivalent of a power strip to turn one connector into several. That device is called a USB hub.
A USB hub has one USB connector to attach it to a computer and several connectors to attach it to devices. Hubs most often have either four or seven device connectors.
If you run out of USB ports, get a powered USB hub - one that draws electricity from a wall plug. That way, you protect against power drains on your computer's motherboard. If at all possible, plug your USB hub into a UPS so that a sudden loss of power doesn't cause a surge down the USB hub's power supply.
You can plug one USB hub into another - daisy chain them - to attach more devices than a single hub can support.
The maximum length of a USB cable is not precisely defined, but the figure of 5 meters (about 16 feet) is widely accepted. This is the maximum length of a cable from a computer or a hub to a hub or a device. The maximum total length between the computer and any device is about 25 meters or 80 feet.
Beefing Up Communication
No computer is an island unto its own. At least, not anymore. With Windows XP, you have no excuse to remain isolated. Networking is part and parcel of the eXPerience.
In this tutorial:
- Finding and Installing the Hardware
- Understanding Hardware Types
- Choosing an interface
- IDE and EIDE interfaces
- USB interface
- Upgrading the Basic Stuff
- Evaluating printers
- Considering multifunction devices
- Choosing a new monitor
- Picking the right screen size
- Fighting flicker
- Checking and setting the resolution and refresh rate
- Picking a video adapter
- Getting enough memory (RAM)
- Upgrading keyboards
- Choosing a mouse - or alternatives
- Adding storage devices
- Picking CD-RW or DVD-/+RW drives
- Understanding flash memory and keydrives
- Backing up to tape
- USB Hubs
- Establishing a network
- Running high-speed Internet access
- Upgrading Imaging
- Scanning photographic film
- Adding Audio
- Hooking up speakers and headphones
- Choosing a microphone
- Choosing a Personal Data Assistant
- Installing New Hardware
- Restarting with the last known good configuration
- Installing USB hardware