Hot Plugging

What Does Hot Plugging Mean?

Hot plugging is the ability to replace or install a device without shutting down the attached computer.


Hot plugging is implemented when a peripheral device is added or removed; a device or working system requires reconfiguration; a defective component requires replacement or a device and computer require data synchronization. Hot swapping allows easy accessibility to equipment and the convenience of uninterrupted systems.

Also known as hot swapping.

Techopedia Explains Hot Plugging

Hot plugging or hot swapping gets its name because devices are swapped while a computer is running – or hot. Such a device is referred to as being “hotpluggable.” The opposite of this is cold plugging.

A hot swappable device must be able to connect to a running computer and operate nearly instantaneously. A mechanism that supports hot swapping must be able to identify replaced or removed modules or devices. In addition, mechanical and electrical connections must be capable of safe removal without causing harm to the device or user. As such, a hot swappable device is designed to prevent electrostatic discharge, which can permanently damage electrical components.

True hot swapping devices include USB, high-end SCSI devices and FireWire.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.