This post will introduce you a piece of hardware on the computer – dongle. The content will focus on its definition, features, use, and some other basic information.

As you know, computer is a complicated device. It contains multiple components such as hard drive, memory stick, power supply unit (PSU), keyboard, monitor, chipset, sound card, peripheral component interconnect (PCI) slot, as well as dongle, etc.

What is a dongle? To get the detailed information about it, please keep reading this post of MiniTool.

What Is a Dongle

Dongle, a tiny piece of computer hardware, enables you to connect to a port on other devices. Then dongle can provide the connected devices with extra functionality. The dongle itself has one or more ports, which allows you to plug more devices into your computer simultaneously.

For instance, you can plug the dongle into the USB port on your computer. And then you can plug other devices like external hard drive, TF card into the computer too. By doing so, you are able to access to the Internet. Hence, the dongle is also regarded as an extension cord for the computer.  In addition, as the dongle has a size that is the same size as a USB flash drive, it is convenient to carry out.

what is a dongle

Given to that fact, dongles are ideal options when you have a faulty Internet connection or you are required to access Internet without the help of router. Like many other things, dongle has its own advantages and disadvantages. What are they? Check the details in the next section now!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dongle

The pros and cons of the dongle are summarized as follows. You will have a clear understanding of dongles after reading the below content.


  • Portable: It can be carried in the bag because of its small size.
  • Convenient: Since the dongle can be carried casually, you can access the Internet even in a café, on a train or in a park. It is powered by your computer, so you don’t have to charge it separately.
  • Easy to use: You can use it after plugging it into the USB port of your computer.


  • A USB port is required on the target device: Due to this feature, you can only connect dongles to laptops. As for devices like tablet, e-book reader or mobile, dongle cannot work with them.
  • The dongle can only connect to one device at a time: Though the dongle has one or more ports, it is only able to connect to a device each time.
  • It charges high compared with the fixed line broadband.
  • It has a limited speed on both downloading and uploading aspects.
  • The portability is restricted to places where you can obtain 4G signal.

Alternatives to Dongle

According to the above information, dongle is not perfect. On the contrary, it has some drawbacks that have impacts on your Internet use. Hence, it is necessary to find some alternatives to dongle to access the Internet.

Four alternatives to dongle will be introduced in this section.

Mobile broadband devices: They are also famous as Mi-Fi and packet Wi-Fi. Like dongles, they are small portable gadgets that can connect to mobile broadband no matter where you are. Differently, they do it by sending a Wi-Fi signal, which indicates you can connect multiple devices at the same time like smartphones, tablets, e-book, etc. However, you need to keep the battery charged.

Smartphone: The majority of smartphones can connect to mobile broadband only if you have 4G or 3G data. Some even can be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots so that your computer can use it.

Mobile broadband router: If you just want to use the dongle for temporary broadband, you can consider other options like mobile broadband router.

Public Wi-Fi hotspots: At present, a lot of free public Wi-Fi networks are also available for users. Try connecting them for surfing the Internet.

Bottom Line

Do you know the dongle definition now? The post has illustrated it in details. Based on that, you will learn the pros and cons, some alternatives to dongle. You can try the alternatives when you don’t want to utilize dongle. With them, you can start your work as usual.

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