VIA VL811 USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrade

2.8.13:This post is no longer current

Please refer to our newer post Plugable USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrades

VIA Labs has released a new firmware version for their VL811 USB 3.0 hub chipset.

A primary feature is a work around for issues on Mac OS X 10.8 systems, where USB storage devices would disconnect unexpectedly upon system sleep. Windows and Linux users will likely see limited benefit from applying this upgrade (as those OSes did not have this same disconnect problem), so we would advise against upgrading unless you’ve encountered a specific issue. Note that late 2012 Macs (Macbook Pro Retina, iMac, Mac Mini) have USB 3.0 issues that are not solved by any firmware update (we’re expecting an Apple update for these at some point).

One challenge is the firmware update utility VIA provides is Windows-only, even though a primary benefit for this particular version is for Mac users — you’ll need a copy of Windows and a USB 3.0 capable machine to update your hub.

We’ve tested the upgrade succesfully on Plugable’s USB hubs, including the 7 port USB3-HUB7-81X (VL811 version; versions purchased after November 2012 use the different VL812 chipset), 4-port USB3-HUB4 (currently out of stock), and 4-port USB3-HUB81X4.

Note: The Plugable UD-3000 USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station is not compatible with VIA’s generic hub firmware update utility — putting a generic firmware on the UD-3000 dock will make it non-functional and non-recoverable. Only use the information in this post for updating standalone USB 3.0 Hubs.

We’ve tested the firmware flash utility on 32 and 64 bit Windows 7, 64 bit Windows 8, as well as 32 bit Windows XP with good results. We were also able to successfully update the firmware on a hub running Windows 7×64 in BootCamp (Parallels and other virtual machines, however, will not work).

Determining if you need the update

You can check the Apple System Profile or Windows Device Manager to determine what version of firmware you currently have.

To launch Apple’s system profiler, from the top right of your screen click the Apple Logo, choose “About This Mac” and click “More Info” on the screen that pops up. Another screen will appear: click the button here for “System Report.” Once system report is loaded, click on “USB” at the bottom of the “Hardware” section, and then find your USB hub. Different models of hub will display differently, however you’ll know you found the right device when you find one with the following details: in the lower right hand section of the next 2 images:

Product ID: 0×0811
Vendor ID: 0×2109 (Via Labs, Inc)

OS X System profiler entry for hub with older firmware version (version 0300)

OS X System profiler entry for hub with firmware upgrade applied (version 2A97)

Note that the new firmware will show as revision 2a.97 on Mac after update.

Checking VIA firmware version in Windows

To launch windows device manager, hit the Windows-R hotkey and run devmgmt.msc

Find your hub under “Universal Serial Bus controllers”. The firmware version can be seen under the “Details” tab and “Hardware Ids”.

And here’s a hub already updated to the new firmware.

Updating VL811 Firmware

Download the latest VL811 specific version from VIA here:
VIA hub firmware download page.

We recommend having your hub connected to AC (wall) power, and disconnecting all devices from your hub before updating the firmware. Also, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” If you’re not experiencing the hard drive disconnect issue on OS X, it’s best to forgo the update.

Upgrading your Via VL-811 chip based USB 3.0 hub is a 2 step process:

  1. Download and extract the firmware update zip file from the link above
  2. open and start the USB3HubFWUpgrade.exe utility to update your hub

Please note that Disabling User Account Controls as suggested in the Via user guide was neither required by our tests, nor advisable in our opinion. We recommend you do not disable User Account Controls on your Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 PC. If your hub isn’t detected by the firmware upgrade utility, please try right clicking on the utility and choosing “Run As Administrator.”

Note that 2012 Macbook Pro Retina and 2012 Mac Mini systems have additional issues with USB 3.0 that aren’t related to or fixed by this firmware update. Apple users who just have drives lost on sleep, but who don’t have access to a Windows PC, should contact us at support@plugable.com — we’ll be happy to help.

We welcome your feedback. Please comment below if you have any questions or if you find any discrepancies in our steps above. Thank you!

22 thoughts on “VIA VL811 USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrade”

  1. I have just connected the Plugable USB 3.0 4-Port Hub to a new 2012 iMAC running OS X 10.8.2. The Firmware version is 3.92. I downloaded the VL8.11 Firmware update. It will open in Windows (Parallels) but not on the MAC. Is it important that I have the Firmware update, and if so, how do I do the update.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Robert-

      I was unable to run the firmware upgrade utility over a Parallels VM since paralells isn’t able to pass a USB hub to the VM, the VM has no visibility to the hub to be able to upgrade it. Parallels can pass USB devices, but not the hubs they are attached through. Bootcamp on your mac is an option, however virtual machines are not. To perform this upgrade yourself you will need to have access to a regular non-virtual Windows system with USB 3 support.

      If you’re not able to get access to a native/non-virtual Windows PC with USB 3 support, please email support@plugable.com with your Amazon order ID.

      Sorry we’re not able to provide other options to update through a VM, bootcamp is really the best/only option for those who don’t have a Windows PC and need to do the upgrade. Please feel free to post back if you have questions on the bootcamp option.

      Best wishes-

      Jeff Everett
      MCITP Enterprise Support Technician
      Plugable Technologies

        1. Hi Robert-

          Sorry I wasn’t clearer, however regardless of how you’ll use the hub long term, you’ll have to do the upgrade on a windows system with usb 3 support. If you’re not able to do that you’ll need to contact support@plugable.com with your Amazon order ID.

          To be clear, users who need this upgrade and don’t have a bootcamp setup on their mac or access to another Windows PC will have to contact us at support@plugable.com

          Sorry there are no other options I can offer here.

          Best wishes-

          Jeff

  2. I’m having a similar problem with my late 2012 imac. I bought a 7 port USB 3.0 hub in mid december and I checked the version following the steps above and found the following:
    Product ID: 0×0812
    Vendor ID: 0×2109
    Version: 85.64
    Am I correct in assuming that the update discussed here will not help me? Is there anything I can do?
    Thanks
    Warren

    1. Hi Warren – Thanks for posting! You have the newer VL812 chipset, so the steps above don’t apply. But we’re about to post a firmware update for the VL812 that, in combination with some fixes from Apple, resolves most issues. If you have a USB 3.0 capable Windows machine around (VIA’s firmware tool is Windows-only and USB 3.0 only), we can get you steps to update. If not, we’ll find another way – just email your Amazon order # to support@plugable.com with the same vendor, product, and version information and we’ll get you up to date. Thanks again for letting us help!

  3. I think I have this issue with mid 2012 MacBook Air 11″ (with all Apple updates including this weekend’s update).

    When I plug in a Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex USB3.0 1.5TB drive with three partitions, sometimes all three show up, then a bit later one or two “disconnect” while another partition still works. Then the other two suddenly connect again. Later, all three disconnect.

    Sometimes none of the partitions show up when I connect the drive (even thought the light is on and I can hear the disk spinning).

    I have also experienced an issue with USB keyboard/mouse not working once while connected to the hub, even thought the laser light on the mouse was on. But after I restarted (twice), it seemed to fix it. Just a bit ago, while the GoFlex drive was working, keyboard wasn’t, but the mouse was.

    The only thing that have been working consistently so far is a 1.5GB WesternDigital USB2.0 drive with its own power…

    So much for plug-and-play :/

    I have 3.92 firmware. I also have an old PC running XP on it but it only has USB 2.0 ports. I am not sure if that qualifies as “USB 3.0 capable machine”? If not, what are my options?

    1. Hi Dima-

      While your hub does not have the firmware update referenced in this blog post, none of the issues you are describing are known to be resolved by this upgrade, however they do sound similar to issues resolved in a different upgrade.

      Unfortunately A Windows system with only USB 2.0 ports does not work, a system with USB 3.0 ports is required for this update. If you do not have access to one, please contact support@plugable.com with your Amazon order ID.

      Best wishes-

      Jeff

  4. What exactly are the issues that are creating a problem for this hub with the Macbook Retina and 2012 Mac Mini? I see it says Apple needs to address something, but I’d be curious to know what the problem supposedly is since it affects me.

    I have a 2012 Mac Mini with USB 3.0 and as you might imagine, I’m quickly running out of ports even with a USB 2.0 6-port hub plugged in to handle lower speed items. But some items have traditionally only worked well for me if plugged straight into the computer (e.g. sync cables for iTunes, although I haven’t tried that with a hub yet on the new computer to see if it’s changed) and thus I cannot dedicate 3 out of the 4 ports on the Mac Mini to USB 3.0 operation (and I have two 3TB USB 3.0 hard drives, although one is only a backup and only needs to be connected infrequently) and a 12x Blu-Ray writer that is USB 3.0 and I may need more storage soon so a hub is definitely in my best interests, but thus far, it sounds like it’s a major issue.

    1. Just FYI, I plug in my iPhone cable through this hub as well, as through a non-powered 4 port USB2.0 hub before, and iTunes syncing has worked just fine. I do have a 2012 MacBook Air thou.

      1. That reference makes it sound as 10.8.2 has potentially solved the problem with the hub(s) in question, but has it? The ads I’ve seen say they are not currently recommended for the Retina Macbook Pro and late 2012 Mac Mini. I’m running 10.8.2. Will the VIA VL811 based hubs work correctly or not?

        1. Hi VonMagnum-

          There are a variety of issues other than those we’ve been able to categorize that have been reported.

          The Retina MacBook Pro, as well as the new USB 3.0 capable Mac Mini’s and iMac’s have all been particularly troublesome (units that worked with other USB 3.0 Macs did NOT work with these models in many cases). Some users have reported that this update for the affected models resolved their issues, others have reported that it was not helpful: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1603

          As a result of these uncertainties we’re not recommending any of our USB 3.0 hubs for Mac customers at this time, due to the various issues mentioned in the last link I posted. Since many customers are ordering these hubs anyway, we’re trying to be transparent about the issues we’re hearing about from them.

          Best wishes-

          Jeff

        2. Works for me (rMBP15). AFTER firmware update.

          The problem was in communicating with OS X the list of attached devices. So the more devices you had, the more chances was some of them would be lost. Most likely a timing error. After upgrade I have no problems.

          They (Plugable) also list a possible problem with external soundcards. I’m going to test it this evening (just received it from Walmart).

          1. Hi Andy-

            Thanks for confirming that the VL811 based hub you have is working well on your 15″ Retina MacBook Pro. Do you typically install system updates from the app store? We believe that updates like this one might be crucial to customers having a good experience, and appreciate any data points that can confirm this: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1542

            Again, thanks for posting with your findings, we really appreciate the information!

            Best-

            Jeff

    1. The mouse, however, is a different story. It seems there is a slight lag when connected to the hub compared to the direct connection. Not as big as when connected via USB 2.0 hub, but still noticeable. And it might mean a difference between life and death, if you know what I mean. (The sound card, BTW, didn’t work via my USB 2.0 hub at all.) Keyboard, I think, should be OK, however, since there are only 2 USB ports on rMBP, it would be advisable to opt for something different than SuperDrive.

      1. I don’t know about that USB 3 hub, but I’m using a Belkin USB 2.0 7-port hub with my 2012 Mac Mini in one of its USB 3.0 ports for legacy devices and there is literally ZERO lag for my mouse and keyboard (Microsoft Intellimouse and Logitech keyboard) so I can’t imagine what would be causing so much apparent lag through your Retina Macbook Pro using a 2.0 hub.

        Overall, I still don’t get what’s so different about the Retina Macbook pro and Mac Mini compared to the other Macbook Pros and Macbook Air that they have so much difficulty with USB 3.0 hubs. All of Apple’s USB 3.0 machines are using Intel’s Ivy-Bridge chipsets with USB 3.0 built-in (no 3rd party chips or anything) so it just seems bizarre that they would have an issue and the other models wouldn’t.

        1. >Mac Mini… Microsoft Intellimouse…

          I said, “if you know what I mean.” Apparently, you don’t. Fluidity of motion and precision of aiming, man. After all, computers were not created for spreadsheets.

          >I can’t imagine what would be causing so much apparent lag through your Retina Macbook Pro

          Actually, THAT was tested on PC. Don’t tell me you never heard that every major manufacturer strongly advises to connect mice directly to the motherboard ports. Some of them even provide 2 USB connectors on their keyboards so mice connected to them would actually have a direct connection rather than through hub.

          >I still don’t get what’s so different about the Retina Macbook pro and Mac Mini compared to the other Macbook Pros and Macbook Air

          AFAIK, nothing. The problem, as I understood, was not with a particular hardware but rather with Mountain Lion that implemented USB 3.0 specs more strictly than previous versions of OS X and Windows. So pretty much every single VL811-based hub that worked under Lion stopped working after upgrade. The whole story (more or less) is here:

          http://support.plugable.com/plugable/topics/hd_plugged_into_usb_3_0_hub_disconnects_after_returning_from_sleep

          So I’d say, it’s safe to buy this hub for Mac but be prepared for mandatory firmware update in bootcamp (or another Windows system with USB 3.0 ports — won’t work via USB 2.0 port). Don’t know about VL812, though so it’d be safer to stay with VL811, especially since the onty difference is an energy consumption by the hub’s electronics.

          Besides, Plugable’s 7-port VL812-based hub is sold with WAY underpowered power supply that has barely enough juice for 7 USB 2.0 devices — you will NOT be able to connect more that 4 USB 3.0 devices (it’s, actually, the same power supply they sell with their 4-port hub). You need 3 more Amperes for 3 extra devices.

          1. Hi everyone-

            I just wanted to offer a quick, friendly reminder that the latest and greatest source for our info relating to OS X and USB 3 hubs is here:
            http://plugable.com/2013/01/10/plugable-usb-3-hubs-and-os-x

            The link above has further details on the overall situation. Customers purchasing a 7 port USB3-HUB7-81X unit now should understand they are purchasing a VL812 based hub, not the same unit that is discussed in this post. Only our 4 port USB3-HUB81X4 is still using the VL811 at this time.

            In addition to the limited details on OS X USB 3 hub issues we have so far, I’ve provided some links to example updates that are being delivered to specific models of Mac, as well as descriptions of what some of these updates are for. Apple is a better source on why they’ve released these updates, hence the links to their support pages.

            Please help us to better catalog these issues by focusing your discussion of anything other than USB Mass Storage devices not resuming from sleep at:
            http://plugable.com/2013/01/10/plugable-usb-3-hubs-and-os-x

            Thanks and best wishes!

            Jeff Everett
            MCITP Enterprise Support Technician
            Plugable Technologies

          2. >I said, “if you know what I mean.” Apparently, you don’t.
            >Fluidity of motion and precision of aiming, man. After all,
            >computers were not created for spreadsheets.

            Yeah, whatever/however you want to call/describe it. I don’t have any here. PERIOD. I just tested them again to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I can’t tell even the slightest difference between plugging my mouse in directly and through my Belkin 2.0 hub.

            Everything I’ve read suggests mouse and/or keyboard lag only occurs in a hub when the other devices on that hub are maxing out the bandwidth (although I used to use a USB 3.0/2.0 drive (two in fact while doing backup) on my PowerMac with the mouse plugged into the same hub and I never noticed any lag then either. I do have the mouse plugged into Port 1 so maybe the hub gives it priority or something or perhaps it’s a chipset issue with certain hubs.

            Now I’m not saying you aren’t having a problem with YOUR mouse in your particular hub (obviously you are), but that doesn’t mean it’s a problem for everyone. BTW, having a USB port pass-through on a keyboard is still a hub (System Information in OSX will tell you this quite plainly). I know because I have an old Apple keyboard with not one, but TWO such ports and they are listed as a 2-port hub in System Information when a mouse is plugged into one.

            In case you’re wondering, I’m using Microsoft Intellimouse Opticals on all my Macs (from several years ago; I found a place online that still had them in stock and bought a bunch of them since I’ve found no mouse that feels better in my hand than that one and they last a long time and are relatively cheap. Thankfully, Microsoft’s Intellipoint software (which hasn’t been updated in awhile and the last version was a combined driver which I don’t like so I’m using the last mouse only one) still works in 10.8.2. The effects don’t take place until after exiting the preference pane (which makes it seem like they don’t work at first), but it’s a 64-bit pane even so and scroller acceleration is awesome (slow movements are precise and faster kick up page scrolling very well). The two extra buttons are handy for page-zoom.

            Now I have had problems with certain brand hubs before on my Macs. I’ve got a generic 7-port USB 2.0 hub that works fine on my Windows/Linux machine, but had endless problems with devices not registering on waking from sleep with my Macbook Pro (the link you posted sounds familiar and so I wouldn’t want that hub at this point). The Belkin 7-port I bought works perfectly on all three Macs, though. I haven’t seen a 7-port Belkin USB 3.0 hub yet, though. Power for devices isn’t necessarily an issue, though. All my USB 3.0 devices thus far provide their own power (I have three 3TB USB 3.0 hard drives and a Memorex 12x Blu-Ray Writer and they all have their own supplies).

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