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USB 3.0 HDD wireless interference

Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:40 am
by Anovoca
In a bit of a followup to an earlier thread (viewtopic.php?f=29&t=118310) I have recently come to discover that there is a little known but documented issue with External hard drives that run off a USB 3.0 cables where the signal across the cable can cause significant disruption of wireless signals.

Reference article: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/ ... terference

In my own experience, a WD external drive plugged in to a front I/O USB 3.0 port on my media server was interfering with my wireless keyboard and mouse plugged into the same device. After upgrading the equipment to Bluetooth and having the same issues I realized it wasn't my or my neighbors WiFi causing the disruption. The issue was eventualy resolved after I got fed-up with how the media center looked with the USB harddrive dangling off the front of it and routed a USB 2.0 Hub to a cabinet where i could hide such devices. The keyboard instantly started working again with no appearance of any latency or interference. I did some more troubleshooting to verify my findings then a bit of google searching later and I found confirmation of my suspicions in the article I linked above.

I am sure some of you gerbils have heard of this one before but I certainly haven't so I felt like sharing and spreading the word. Hopefully my experience can save someone else some money or at least a headache.

Re: USB 3.0 HDD wireless interference

Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:44 am
by Ryu Connor
As an additional note beyond what you've already discovered.

USB 3.1 Gen2 (SuperSpeed+) has the potential to cause interference for 5GHz Wi-Fi as it operates at 5GHz.

USB 3.1 Gen1 (SuperSpeed) operates at 2.5GHz and can cause interference for 2.4GHz Wi-Fi/Bluetooth.

Re: USB 3.0 HDD wireless interference

Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:57 am
by just brew it!
Not widely publicized, but not exactly a secret either.

Quality of cables probably factors into it; I expect poor shielding will tend to make the problem worse.

Regardless of USB 3.0 usage, I've found that wireless mice and keyboards generally work better if you put the receiver on an extension cable so it is physically farther away from the motherboard (which is a massive source of EMI), instead of plugging it directly into a port on the PC. I typically use double-stick tape to attach the end of the cable with the dongle on it to the monitor stand, or to the underside of the desk (directly beneath the keyboard/mouse).

Re: USB 3.0 HDD wireless interference

Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:03 am
by just brew it!
Ryu Connor wrote:
USB 3.1 Gen1 (SuperSpeed) operates at 2.5GHz and can cause interference for 2.4GHz Wi-Fi/Bluetooth.

I expect Gen1 can cause some interference at 5GHz as well, since that would be the 2nd harmonic. I'm sure the chipset designers slew rate limit the signal to minimize this effect, but there's still gonna be some energy at 2x, 3x, etc. the base carrier frequency. Maybe enough to degrade performance if you run your USB cable right next to your WiFI adapter's antenna.

Re: USB 3.0 HDD wireless interference

Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:08 am
by morphine
just brew it! wrote:
Regardless of USB 3.0 usage, I've found that wireless mice and keyboards generally work better if you put the receiver on an extension

That's also dependant on the receiver's quality. My Microsoft Sculp Ergo desktop keyboard has a number of flaws, including a crappy receiver that won't work right when plugged into the USB ports on the PC, which is an enormous ~1m away from my hands in a straight line. Had to use an extension cable just as you described.

Re: USB 3.0 HDD wireless interference

Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2021 1:16 pm
by charles74
SOLVED ! Bought a tape that blocks the unwanted radio signal leaking from the cable of my external HDD. From Amazon I bought Titan RF shielding tape. Name: TitanRF Faraday Tape - High-Shielding Conductive Adhesive Tape // Used to Connect TitanRF Fabric Sheets or Seal RF Enclosures // 1" W x 120" L (2.54cm Sold by: MOS Equipment Europe. I know this will help everyone. Cheers!