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What Does “Hot” Mean

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms, Hardware & Peripherals, Quick Tips

We have a question from a reader about the term “hot.”  He asked, “ What does it mean when it says that USB is hot-swappable and hot-pluggable?”


When you see the word “hot” used to talk about tech, it normally means running or powered on. So if something was hot-pluggable or hot-swappable, it would mean you could add or remove the item without shutting down the system.

Hot-pluggable means you can add a component to an operating computer system without having to restart it.  An example of a hot-pluggable could be a printer or a mouse.  Unlike earlier versions of computer ports, USB ports are hot swappable. So are FireWire and Thunderbolt connections.  An external hard drive would be hot-swappable.

In a professional setting, you’ll sometimes hear the term applied to servers with multiple drives. If one of the drives begins to fail, it is hot-swappable. You can pull it out and replace it without shutting down the entire system.

~ Cynthia

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