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Dongle definition

A dongle is a small hardware device that connects to another, such as a computer or a smartphone, to provide it with additional functionality or to enable a specific software application to run. The term “dongle” applies to a wide variety of devices that can enhance security, provide connection, or enable content streaming.

See also: peripheral device, usb restricted mode

Dongle examples

  • Wireless adapters. Wi-Fi or Bluetooth adapters can plug into a computer's USB port to provide wireless connectivity.
  • Security dongles. They can be plugged into a computer to authenticate software and prevent unauthorized use.
  • Mobile broadband dongles. These dongles, known as USB modems, provide internet access on the go by connecting to a cellular network.
  • TV streaming sticks. As streaming becomes more popular, some HDMI dongles, such as Amazon Fire Stick, can enable streaming over the internet on your TV.

The benefits of dongles

  • Portability. Dongles are small and lightweight, so users can carry them in a pocket and install dongles on various mobile devices.
  • Ease of use. Most dongles offer plug-and-play functionality. Users can install and use them without opening up the device and updating the hardware.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Dongles are cheaper than upgrading a device.
  • Miniman power requirements. Dongles don’t need an external power source.