Is my USB hub setup too funky?


Having just two USB-C ports in my M1 MacBook Air, of course, requires a hub setup to handle all my peripherals. Too often something seems to lose its connection. (most often, the Wacom tablet or Stream Deck) Sometimes I have trouble getting yes did you try to start a conversationbackup hard disks to mount.

Here’s what I have to get into my two MacBook ports:

Epson Photo Printer
Samsung SSD for my photos
Spinning G-Drive for Time Machine
4TB portable drive, where I keep instructional videos
8GB Seagate spinning drive for backing up everything.
USB microphone
Stream Deck
Wacom tablet
Large Apple keyboard
Eizo display

I also need an Ethernet connection.

I’m now using three hubs.

My two MacBook Air ports go to:

  • A Twelve South Stay-Go hub. It has only 3 USB-A ports, so one of them goes to a 10-port Anker USB 3.0 hub.
  • The Eizo display, which has its own hub with 4 USB-A ports.

I’ve tried my backup disk, Wacom and Stream Deck in each of the hubs, but none seems more reliable than the others. Of course, Wacom and Stream Deck say their gear works best plugged directly into the computer, but obviously, that’s not going to happen!

Is my set up just too rickety? Would things be more reliable with a single Caldigit hub? (assuming they have one with 10 USB-A ports)

How many of your accessories have their own power connections? I had problems with spinning drives mounting because the hub I was using couldn’t deliver enough power.

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Does the Anker hub have its own power supply? If not, it probably should.

Have you tried a simple USB-C to USB-A adapter/cable with the Anker hub to see if that helps?

I got tired of dealing with a bunch of drives connected to my Air, so I wound up moving all the drives to a spare Mac Mini and accessing them over the network. Maybe not as fast, but good enough.

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Yes, it is inevitably a problem of getting enough power to the device. So the hub needs to have its own power supply, and hefty enough to power what is plugged into it. Of course devices that have their own power supplies rather than relying on USB power will always be fine. The StreamDeck, Wacom tablet, and “self powered” hard drives are most problematic.


Please don’t take this as facetious, would you be better off with a desktop for your main activities that need all of this kit?

I appreciate that there’s probably a reason you use a laptop, but a desktop with more ports would be more reliable.

Daisychaining and/or cascading USB devices rarely yields good results. A thunderbolt dock is very expensive and a significant amount of the cost of a Mac Mini.

Just an idea


Sorry—I should have said that the both spinning drives, the Anker and StayGo hubs are connected to their own power supplies, and of course, the Eizo has its own power.

You suggested “a simple USB-C to USB-A adapter/cable with the Anker hub…” Connected to what?


For now, the M1 MacBook Air is my only option, and other than this one issue, my setup works very well.

I’d assumed that after all these years, USB would work reliably. However, I have been suspicious that the Anker hub going into the StayGo hub might be asking for trouble! Do you think that could cause problems with the StayGo and Eizo hubs, in addition the chained Anker?

Perhaps one, powered big hub going straight to the Mac would be best. Maybe I could dig up a used one somewhere.


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Connecting the Anker hub directly to your laptop to see if the Twelve South hub is introducing any problems. Sorry I wasn’t clearer.

Generally it does, until you get into:

  • Computers that try to do power management on USB devices and such
  • Potential bandwidth issues if you have a lot of data flying around
  • Power delivery (as mentioned above).

I would never plug hubs into hubs. Why is the Anker plugged into the Stay-Go? If it’s an issue of USB-A vs C or something, get a little adapter.

Emphatically, yes. If you could find a Thunderbolt dock with the appropriate cocktail of ports, that would be even better.

I have a similarly funky, multiple USB hub setup for a one-cable connection to my M1 MBP. It is a mish-mash of bus powered and self-powered devices, both USB2 and 3, and ancient to brand new. Unfortunately, there are so many possible points of failure in both of our set ups that an easily determined fix might not be possible. However, there is hope! Inexplicably (at least to a midwit like myself) a mild connection failure at one point can affect a seemingly unrelated item in the overall system, so direct logical troubleshooting doesn’t always work.

I had a different but not entirely unrelated problem to yours and I spent a maddeningly unfruitful amount of time chasing it down. The logical solutions didn’t make sense. I eventually discovered or decided that the culprit was (like in my automotive* days) a random “bad connection” somewhere and proceeded to disconnect all the cables, rearrange their connection points even using the same cables, and try again. That eventually worked without too much effort. That being said, making sure that the hubs are powered, and everything else that can be independently powered in fact is, AND that you have a reliable USB C cable (not an adapter) going to your primary hub seem to be key in this venture too.

*I used to do a lot of shade-tree wrenching on all variety of vehicles back in my car-crazy days, and electrical bugs were always the most difficult to understand or chase out. Almost always, a problematic electrical behavior was due to a bad ground or a short in a seemingly unrelated part of the system. I have countless examples, but my favorite had to be a 1984 Renault Alliance, luxuriously equipped with a/c. Occasionally - and then always - when I would turn on the air, the horn would sound. Yes, the “beep beep” horn. That was always fun on a hot day, rolling the dice to see if and when the horn would randomly sound while trying to cool off. I don’t remember exactly what the culprit was, but I do remember replacing the (whimsically insignificant) radiator one day and disconnecting / reconnecting / retightening something related cured the a/c-to-horn connection. ¯\( ツ)

That’s quite a lot of stuff to connect via USB!. Perhaps that bunch of power hungry devices is too much for the little power adapters of the external hubs. Or, worse, it could be a matter of USB bandwidth, an older device could make the whole bus slower.

I think the most practical way would be to connect and disconnect devices as you need them (are you using your Printer when you are recording through your microphone?). Other than that, it seems a Thunderbolt dock would be my approach.

I do a lot of note making by dictating into the Mac, rather than typing. In fact, that’s what I’m doing right now. However, I tend to do photo printing in batches and only occasionally refer to my instructional videos. Of course, I only connect my big back up disk when doing my back ups. I checked the regional craigslist and found a Caldigit TS-3 Plus Thunderbolt hub for $150 (about $230 new) that would handle all of my peripherals. Then I would have one USB-C going from the M1 MacBook Air to the external display and another going to this Caldigit hub. That should clean up a lot of my variables.

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