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Archive for April, 2021

The Difference Between USB Splitter and USB Hub

GetUSB.info researches USB products every day from every corner of the internet. Although we don’t publish about those finds each day the research goes on with a filter geared towards bring value to our visitors.

Over the past six weeks we have seen an increased number of products listed as a USB splitter and it’s worth posting an explanation about what a USB splitter is, or might be.

A USB splitter does not split the USB signal. The most common use of the term “splitter” is a phone splitter for an analog signal. Meaning you can take a single phone line and use a splitter to get the same analog signal on two phones, at the same time. A USB splitter is not this – at all.

A USB splitter should truly be called a USB hub. A USB hub is comprised of an upstream port and multiple down-stream ports. The upstream port is the signal coming into the hub, the down-stream port(s) are the ports available to get that information. Key word here is “available to get” because not all ports are equally available to get the same upstream signal, simultaneously.

For example, if you have audio playing from your PC to a USB speaker, a hub will not automatically split that audio signal to multiple USB speakers connected to that hub. Same would go for video and data. You cannot split USB signals to multiple devices automatically.

To call a USB hub a USB splitter is a very poor choice of words. In fact, we would consider this a red flag for not buying product from a supplier who uses such a term to describe a USB hub.

There is a USB-Y cable which is the closest thing which could be considered a splitter. A USB-Y cable has two connectors from the upstream port to a single downstream port; however, both of those upstream ports do not transmit data. One connector transmits the data and power and the second connector transmits only power. For example, it is very common to get an external hard drive (a disk drive, not solid state) which comes with a USB-Y cable. This setup is designed to pull the maximum power from the host (your PC) using two connections and send as much power as possible to the device, the external hard drive.

Looking at the image above, the idea would be connecting two USB A cables to two USB ports on the host computer and the single USB-A connector to the device. This setup will provide additional power to the USB peripheral device.

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A USB Flash Drive Which Cannot Get a Virus

A computer virus is something we all strive to avoid because we understand the consequences and the amount of time and energy required to restore a computer to its original condition. In a recent poll by GetUSB.info when asking users to name the top three ways a computer can get a virus, they responded with:

  • Link from an email
  • Link from an unsecure website
  • USB flash drive

However, if Nexcopy has anything to do with the last answer, a computer virus which spreads by USB flash drive will be a thing of the past.

Nexcopy is a US company based in Southern California who specializes in flash memory duplication equipment, printers, FDA compliant flash drives, copy protection and now a road-blocking malware on flash drives.

USB drive cannot get a virus

A virus will spread via a USB stick because the device is writable. In fact, any device that is connected to a computer which is writeable could spread a virus; other devices such as external hard drives, SD cards, microSD cards, etc. all have the same potential for harm.

But what happens when you turn these storage devices on their head and not allow them to be writable in the first place? This simple yet obvious solution is a gigantic step in the right direction for controlling the spread of a virus via USB.

The Lock License flash drive designed and manufactured by Nexcopy is exactly that. The Lock License drive is a USB stick which is always write protected. The device doesn’t care what it’s plugged into, or when, or how, the Lock License drive will always be read-only.

A virus will spread in a very specific way. A virus is designed to scan newly connected devices and ping them to see if they can spread (if the device is writable). A new device is defined by any computer system when “power” is assigned upon connection, which, coincidentally is the same time the virus will try and spread.

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