Can I have too many HDDs connected to a single USB?

Nebell

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I'm using my PC as a Plex server and have quite a few HDDs connected to it.
2 M.2 SSDs
2 internal SSDs
2 external SSDs
2 external HDDs

I'm about to add 3 additional HDDs since I need more storage :rolleyes:
But I've been thinking about moving all external HDDs to my... erm, storage room (pun intended).
Can I connect everything to a USB 3.2 gen 2 hub and connect this hub to my PC with a long cable?
I currently have this set up but with only one HDD and no hub. It works fine and the transfer speed is only a bit slower due to the cable being some 15-20meters.
The difference will be 7 HDDs connected to a hub but usually only one HDD will be used.
Anything I should think about? Does the hub need to be powered or is a non powered hub enough? 6 of those 7 HDDs won't have their own power delivery as they are portable HDDs.
 

wra18th

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I would get a powered hub and just deal with the data throughput. When it comes to cable, there will be power losses with long cables.
 

lilfiend

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Although you are supposed to be able to connect 127 usb devices to a single usb port, many usb 3 chipsets only support 32 devices on a single controller.

USB is also limited to a hub depth of 5, any 'active' usb extension cable will have repeater hubs in it, and many 7+ port hubs are actually 2 hubs in one.

For example this cable has 4 hubs in it, so if you hooked up basically any cheap 7 port hub only 3 plugs would work on it. If you got a cheap 4 port hub all 4 ports would work, or if you found a higher quality 10 port that is a single hub then all 10 ports would work. It is very difficult to find out if a hub is physically a single hub or two hubs in one though without buying it and finding out for yourself.

That being said, if you are using a passive extension cable or one that has less hubs in it you probably won't run into issues so long as you're not daisy chaining a bunch of 7 port hubs.

It should work fine for you as you don't have a ton of drives. I'd invest in a good powered hub personally but if your drives are self powered its not a huge thing. Some usb controllers are a bit shitty, I had issues hooking up a lot of powered external drives to some cheap usb pcie cards. If you're using a pcie card I've had good luck using the inateck KT4001 cards.

Also be aware that some powered external drives, WD Easystore/Elements show as a hard drive and as a SES device, seagate backup plus drives show up as a hard drive and a usb hub, further limiting how many drives you can have on a single usb controller.
 

Nebell

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I have a NAS and find it too weak to run Plex and burning subtitle images. Even my 9900k with all cores to 4.8 ghz is seeing 100% utilization and high bitrate movies refuse to work.
The long USB cable I use is active. 3 out of 4 HDDs will be powered by themselves. I might try to cheap hub, it's only €20.
 

lopoetve

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I have a NAS and find it too weak to run Plex and burning subtitle images. Even my 9900k with all cores to 4.8 ghz is seeing 100% utilization and high bitrate movies refuse to work.
The long USB cable I use is active. 3 out of 4 HDDs will be powered by themselves. I might try to cheap hub, it's only €20.
Which one? Most should have quicksync now to do the re-encoding in hardware. As for yours - did you enable hardware encoding? Nvidia NVENC does great for H.264, and AMD's does well for H.265 (but not vice versa - short answer for a more complex explanation).
 

Nebell

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Which one? Most should have quicksync now to do the re-encoding in hardware. As for yours - did you enable hardware encoding? Nvidia NVENC does great for H.264, and AMD's does well for H.265 (but not vice versa - short answer for a more complex explanation).

Synology 218+. I use it to store my photos for the most part.
Burning subtitles takes a lot of CPU power. Anyway I ordered a couple of Toshiba N300 8TB HDDs and plan to install them in my computer case and see if I can deal with the sound. And since I already have quite a few USB external HDDs and non-powered USB hubs, I'll test that first and see if it works fine.
 

lopoetve

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Synology 218+. I use it to store my photos for the most part.
Burning subtitles takes a lot of CPU power. Anyway I ordered a couple of Toshiba N300 8TB HDDs and plan to install them in my computer case and see if I can deal with the sound. And since I already have quite a few USB external HDDs and non-powered USB hubs, I'll test that first and see if it works fine.
Yeah that’s not a real NAS; pretty sure that doesn’t have Quicksync. Any of the atom equipped ones will - 4-5 bay plus.
 

Nebell

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Yeah that’s not a real NAS; pretty sure that doesn’t have Quicksync. Any of the atom equipped ones will - 4-5 bay plus.

it supports Quicksync. People use it to run Plex. But I find setting up Plex on a NAS way more complicated than on PC (which is more powerful and always on anyway).

Anyway, I tried using a non-powered USB hub and out of 4 HDDs, it showed only 1. The one that has its own power source. The other 3 were all non-powered.
Is it because the USB hub is non-powered?
Would this work? https://www.amazon.se/gp/product/B088FFNBT3

EDIT:
To answer my own question, the hub in question is actually a powered hub. I just didn't notice it has a power socket and I lost the adapter, which I just found, and suddenly all HDDs showed up.
So definitely a power delivery issue.
 
Last edited:

auntjemima

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Although you are supposed to be able to connect 127 usb devices to a single usb port, many usb 3 chipsets only support 32 devices on a single controller.

USB is also limited to a hub depth of 5, any 'active' usb extension cable will have repeater hubs in it, and many 7+ port hubs are actually 2 hubs in one.

For example this cable has 4 hubs in it, so if you hooked up basically any cheap 7 port hub only 3 plugs would work on it. If you got a cheap 4 port hub all 4 ports would work, or if you found a higher quality 10 port that is a single hub then all 10 ports would work. It is very difficult to find out if a hub is physically a single hub or two hubs in one though without buying it and finding out for yourself.

That being said, if you are using a passive extension cable or one that has less hubs in it you probably won't run into issues so long as you're not daisy chaining a bunch of 7 port hubs.

It should work fine for you as you don't have a ton of drives. I'd invest in a good powered hub personally but if your drives are self powered its not a huge thing. Some usb controllers are a bit shitty, I had issues hooking up a lot of powered external drives to some cheap usb pcie cards. If you're using a pcie card I've had good luck using the inateck KT4001 cards.

Also be aware that some powered external drives, WD Easystore/Elements show as a hard drive and as a SES device, seagate backup plus drives show up as a hard drive and a usb hub, further limiting how many drives you can have on a single usb controller.
Good information! Thanks!
 

lopoetve

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Joined
Oct 11, 2001
Messages
32,734
it supports Quicksync. People use it to run Plex. But I find setting up Plex on a NAS way more complicated than on PC (which is more powerful and always on anyway).

Anyway, I tried using a non-powered USB hub and out of 4 HDDs, it showed only 1. The one that has its own power source. The other 3 were all non-powered.
Is it because the USB hub is non-powered?
Would this work? https://www.amazon.se/gp/product/B088FFNBT3

EDIT:
To answer my own question, the hub in question is actually a powered hub. I just didn't notice it has a power socket and I lost the adapter, which I just found, and suddenly all HDDs showed up.
So definitely a power delivery issue.
No argument on the power - mine is a TR 1950X with 2080TI for NVENC, since most of my stuff is H.264 (and it doubles as a living room gaming pc). The older 2 bay ones didn't have QS - didn't realize they'd finally added it. I used that for a bit on mine and it worked well enough, but I needed the NAS space more for VMs.
 
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