Category Archives: News

Easy Way to Use Bluetooth to Exchange Files with Your Phone in Windows – Fsquirt Guide

Exchanging files with your phone through Bluetooth in Windows 7 and above is not straightforward, and a number of users have contacted the Plugable support team looking for an easy way to do this. Fortunately, these versions of Windows come preinstalled with a program called “fsquirt” that fulfills this need. Here is how to use it:

In Windows 7, click on the Start button and type fsquirt in the box that says Search programs and files. In Windows 8 and 8.1, open the Start screen and type fsquirt. The Bluetooth File Transfer window will appear.

fsquirt3

To send files from the PC, select Send Files. On the next window, a list of connected Bluetoooth devices will appear. Select the device to send files to and click Next. In the next window, click Browse to select the files to send, then click Next. Windows will attempt to send the file to the selected device. A message should appear on the device asking if you wish to accept the transfer. When the transfer is successful, File successfully transferred will be displayed.

fsquirt4

To receive files from your Bluetooth device, select Receive files. Waiting for a connection will be displayed. On your device, select the file to be transferred and follow your device’s procedure for sending Bluetooth files. On many devices, you can select multiple files to send together. When the file is received, Windows will ask you where to store the file, and may ask you to accept it. Click OK to receive the file.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this procedure.

 

Plugable USB 3.0 7 Port Hub Firmware History

Customers purchasing Plugable hubs after 9/2013 should not need to worry about firmware updates. Firmware versions on hubs shipping after September 2013 on all Plugable hubs have no known issues with Linux, Mac, and Windows hosts.

Customers who purchased 7 port black hubs before 9/2013 may need firmware updates. Many customers with VL812 hubs have asked if they can/should update to firmware v9081, and this is not needed or recommended. The 9081 firmware for the VL812-B2 chipset cannot be flashed onto a VL812 hub with 8581 firmware. The primary purpose of this post is to enable customers to confirm that their hub is already on the latest firmware, and clarify that updates are NOT needed for currently shipping USB 3.0 7 port hubs- only for older 7 port hubs purchased before September of 2013.

Plugable products for which the updates in this post may be relevant are listed in the table below.

Note this post is only about hubs. For our own UD-3000 dock, please don’t follow this post — we have a separate post on the customized UD-3000 firmware upgrade.

USB3-HUB7-81X

USB3-HUB7A

VL812 Units purchased from Amazon US after November 16, 2012 (January 17, 2013 for Amazon UK orders) have the VL812 chipset. Amazon US customers, depending on your order date and location, these units may have had firmware version 8564, 8571, or 0701. Amazon UK customers currently will receive 0701 firmware. Customers with any of these older versions should use the:

Plugable VL-812v8581 USB 3.0 hub update utility.
No Update Needed

Units purchased on or before 8/2013 came with the VL812 running firmware 8581.
VL812-B2 No Update Needed

Units purchased after 10/2013 in the US may contain the VL812-B2 chipset with the firmware version 9081, or the VL812 with 8581. In either case, this is the latest firmware version and there is no need for an update.
No Update Needed

Units purchased in or after 9/2013 have firmware version 9081.

I have a black hub purchased before 9/2013: How can I tell if I need to update?

Even on older firmware versions 8571 and 0701, many users will not have problems. Only if you are having issues with devices not connecting as expected is updating recommended. In case of issues, to determine if hub firmware might be to blame, please check your system’s device manager or system profile to determine the firmware “rev” or “version” as shown below.

Alternatively, you can send a copy of your PlugDebug report to support@plugable.com for assistance determining if hub firmware or other updates may be relevant for your system:
Instructions to download and use PlugDebug.


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

  1. Find your hub under “Universal Serial Bus controllers.” The device will typically be listed as a “Generic SuperSpeed USB Hub” although it may appear as a “Renesas USB 3.0 Hub” “AMD USB 3.0 Hub” or other entry depending on your system’s USB 3 host controller chipset and driver. Pictured below on the left, highlighted in a red box.
  2. Right click on the device and choose “Properties” (not pictured).
  3. From the properties window that comes up, select “Details.” After doing so the window will update to show information similar to what is pictured on the right below.
  4. From the device’s details page, select “Hardware IDs” as pictured below on the right.

The firmware version can now be seen under the “Details” tab and “Hardware Ids” as pictured below, highlighted in blue on the bottom right.

812win

Note the “REV” details listed after the VID and PID are the version numbers to check in the “Latest Firmware Versions by chip set” section below.


Mac:

To launch Apple’s system profile, from the left your menu bar, click the Apple Logo, hold down the alt/option key, and click “System Information.” 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: 0×0812
Vendor ID: 0×2109 (Via Labs, Inc)

Note the OS X System profile entries for hub firmware version (both 8564 and 8571 versions are pictured below, two hubs were connected)

Firmware Update Utility system compatibility:

This update utility is Windows-only and requires a USB 3.0 capable PC. If your PC has USB 2.0 rather than USB 3.0 ports, or if you use a Mac, you will not be able to complete this upgrade, and should instead contact support@plugable.com. For Mac customers wishing to update, a Windows installation in BootCamp can complete this update, however virtual machines like Parallels, VMWare, or VirtualBox are NOT able to complete this update.

We’ve tested this firmware flash utility on 32 and 64 bit Windows 7, 64 bit Windows 8, as well as 32 bit Windows XP with good results. The firmware flash utility at this time will not work with Windows 8.1. We were also able to successfully update the firmware on a hub running Windows 7 x64 in BootCamp on a Mac (Parallels and other virtual machines, however, will not work).

If you do not have access to a Windows PC with USB 3.0 ports (or a BootCamp partition on your USB 3.0 Mac, or you are running Windows 8.1), please contact support@plugable.com for assistance.

Updating VL812 USB 3.0 Hub Firmware:

Download the appropriate firmware upgrade utility below. Save the file, do not run it from its current location.

Plugable VL-812 USB 3.0 hub update utility.

After the file is downloaded, double click on the file, and follow the prompt: pressing Y (then enter) to continue when prompted.

The utility will either confirm that it has detected a VIA VL812 hub and briefly show the current firmware version before proceeding with the update, or inform you if no hub is detected. Confirmation of whether the upgrade has completed successfully or failed will also be shown. This should happen within 15-30 seconds after launching the utility and pressing Y (then enter) when prompted.

After update has fully completed successfully, you must unplug both power and incoming USB to the hub to reset it. After waiting a few seconds, plug the power, then the USB cable to your PC back in. If you follow the steps above for checking the firmware version, you should see the newly applied version.

Please feel free to comment with your results and observations if you run into issues during the actual upgrade. We welcome your feedback, and will update the post with any improvements.

Thank you!

usb2-e1000_128

Supporting PXE over USB Deployment Scenarios for tablets and ultrabooks

Many enterprise IT admins are facing a new challenge: how to deploy and manage systems with only WiFi for networking and USB for IO ports.  As a result, we’re often asked whether our USB network adapters support PXE boot.  In short, this is the wrong question- Mu.

When designing a deployment environment where USB is your fastest or only I/O option, it is likely that using bootable USB storage devices to abstract away from the limitations of the motherboard UEFI/BIOS will be your best option for two reasons:

1. Support for booting USB mass storage class devices is class-based and ubiquitous.  Almost all modern motherboard BIOS/UEFI builds support USB mass storage class device boot. A number of minimal OS with support for accessing a network share and installing the OS via this pre-installation environment. One valid option would be to use an CD ISO to USB bootable converter program like LiLi to create a USB Bootable iPXE environment, and add the open-source 88179 driver here if you need wired and can’t boot from built-in wireless. Another would be to use Windows PE with Bootcamp drivers for Windows as discussed here on Technet forums. In either case, the key is to build support for the network driver into a USB bootable pre-installation environment.

2. Support for USB network devices is not class driver based- individual chips have notable functional differences, and as such there is no class driver for USB networking- thus, support is left to motherboard OEM’s to build support for individual networking devices into their devices- a challenging task.

For this to be possible, the BIOS/UEFI on the motherboard has to natively support the chip used in the USB network adapter- so this answer will always depend on the motherboard, and require research into both the chipset of the USB network device and then whether the UEFI/BIOS a given motherboard runs supports this chip.

The vast majority of “legacy” systems will NOT have the ability to PXE boot a USB attached adapter. On more modern systems, this functionality will vary from model to model and is NOT something we can answer with certainty, as it is effectively a question of whether the motherboard’s software has support for the chip used in the adapter.

This is much less likely to work on newer USB 3.0 networking devices than on  USB 2.0 devices, since those are based on chips that have been around longer, thus giving motherboard OEMs and the open source community time to integrate support for these USB devices into BIOS/UEFI and the alternate pre-installation environments. 

Our most widely compatible adapter, capable of 10/100 operation rather than gigabit speeds, is the AX88772 based Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows 8 and Earlier, Surface Pro, Wii, Wii U, Linux, and Specific Android Tablets (ASIX AX88772 chipset)

For Gigabit connection speeds (although potentially lower performance than the USB3-E1000), check for support for the ASIX 88178 chip used in our, consider the Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Linux, and Specific Android Tablets (ASIX AX88178 Chipset)

While it is theoretically possible to select only hardware that has native support for booting form USB network adapters, unless you need to PXE boot regularly or are trying to integrate ultra books with SCCM or some other enterprise management system, in most deployment only scenarios it should be easier to use USB media to deploy from since it is relatively easy to setup a USB bootable pre-installation environment, and build support for the driver into the PE instead of having to investigate BIOS/UEFI support for USB network device chips before making every device purchase. Information about what chips are supported this way is virtually impossible to find outside of hands on testing.

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows 8.1 and Earlier,... Product Details $13.95

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Linux, and ... Product Details $25.00