Today’s Question: Like you I upgraded to a MacBook Pro with only two USB-C ports, one of which gets used for power. I got a USB hub to expand the number of ports, but hard drives with a USB-C connection don’t work with this hub. Is there a way to get more ports that will work with external hard drives?
Tim’s Quick Answer: The key here is to use a powered USB hub, so that the hub can provide more power than would otherwise be available from the port the hub is connected to.
More Detail: As I’ve noted previously, about the only shortcoming of my MacBook Pro laptop featuring the high-performance Apple M1 processor is that there are only two USB-C data ports on this laptop, and one of them is generally used for power. In other words, I only really have a single data port available much of the time.
A USB hub provides a solution for expanding the number of ports available on a computer, but this isn’t as easy a solution as it might seem if you want to use bus-powered hard drives or other peripherals requiring power in conjunction with a hub that doesn’t have an external power source.
There are a variety of powered USB hubs available, but I was looking for something that would work well with my configuration. Specifically, I wanted the hub to connect to USB-C, and provide power for at least one USB-C port and a couple of USB-A ports.
The USB hub I’ve been using (and happy with) is an Anker model that features power input via a USB-C connector, an additional USB-C data connection, two USB-A data ports, SD card reader, HDMI output for a second monitor display, and more.
You can learn more about the hub I’m using on the GreyLearning blog here: