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Dexcom Keeps Making the Same Damn Mistake

** This post is about a device called a Continuous Glucose Monitoring System (CGMS). Read more about them here.


One of the complaints I had about the Dexcom 7+ was it’s stupid proprietary power and PC cable. The G4, despite it’s universally-defined micro-USB connector, has managed to accomplish the same damn thing.

To do this, Dexcom made it so that you MUST install the Dexcom Studio software on a compatible machine to be able to charge it without using the supplied AC adapter.

Instead of the proprietary cable, you must use their proprietary software.

You must have the software installed, NOT RUNNING BUT SIMPLY INSTALLED!

Not to download data, but to simply charge the damn thing.

That literally toggles my “WTF” face…

This means you can’t simply plug it into a computer anywhere.

This means you can’t use an external battery pack like you might with your phone or tablet.

This means that you can’t use a car charger.

The only other option is to use the AC adapter supplied with the device, which I have to assume is proprietary as well.

Now, in all fairness, their FAQ does say that you need the software to charge it. But honestly, this is such a deviation from any other device that uses a USB connector, it should be a much more prominent point.

I shouldn’t be surprised, the whole industry loves to do crap like this.

The other issue I have is that my device will only charge on a USB 3 device, not a USB 2 device.  Even plugging the cable directly into the machine, no hubs involved, it will only charge on a USB 3 port.

Calling tech support, I was informed that they had never heard of this before and my issue would be forwarded to the “leadership group”, whatever that is.  Back in the day, IBM support would tell you that “you are the only installation in the country experiencing this issue”.  Then all of a sudden message boards started popping up, people started talking about these issues and IBM eventually stopped using that “only installation” line for some reason…  Speaking with tech support about this problem today reminded me of those IBM support calls. A lot.

What possible benefit is it to Dexcom to make this device this proprietary?  It is certainly of no benefit to those of us that must use the device.

Seriously, proprietary to simply charge?

I’ve been happy with the increased range and accuracy. Not to mention that the sensors last quite a while.  I’m not going to stop using the device.

I am, however, going to keep asking why decisions like that are made. Decisions that make it harder for patients to use the product.

If anyone can come up with a rational explanation for the software requirement to charge, I’d love to hear it.

That includes you, Dexcom.

© 2013 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and

  • StephenS

    I’ve often wondered what would happen if I was away from home without my PC (likely), and the plug for my charger was broken somehow. What would I do to charge? I guess I would call Dexcom to get a new one, but what if my battery had gone kaput in transit? I’d wait an extra day without my receiver because… I really can’t figure out why.

    • The whole situation just seems screwy, but then I am old and cranky…

  • Todd

    I’ve been able to use my Motorola phone charger without a problem. The supplied AC charger works fine and the charge lasts for a week or more. I’ve never used a computer or software.

    • Yea, the AC adapter works fine, I just rarely used it with my 7+ because I spend several hours a day at a computer. It was just more convenient to charge it while I was working and I do the same with my phone when needed

  • Elizabeth

    I had this problem when I recently traveled to India for about a month. I was bringing my iphone, Verio IQ meter, and my Dexcom, so I bought an awesome USB to ALL THREE charger that saved me so much room in my backpack. Then I plug in my Dex in the wall to charge and no little lightning bolt icon comes up. So at 2 am in India, I’m googling what’s going on and come across the note about installing Studio, which is bunk. I ended up plugging it in to the wall for a few hours each night, and it would charge, but never fully or as quickly with its own charger, and the icon rarely showed up. A pain to be sure, but not as dire as Dexcom’s documentation makes it out to be. I’ve also charged the Dex in my car off of my t:slim’s charger.

    • Hmmm… sounds like it is trying to charge anyway, next time the battery gets low I’ll try it and see what happens


  • Allison Nimlos

    I plug the Dexcom into the power cord and then into either my Mac or the wall-plug with no problems. I haven’t downloaded the Dexcom Studio software. I didn’t even know where to get the software until today. I’m not sure why you are having an issue with it. Or why I’m able to do it. Hmmm….

  • Amy Tenderich (DiabetesMine)

    I’m with Allison – haven’t had this problem. Gonna try to get to the bottom of this, though.

    • To make sure everyone understands… I think there is definitely something wrong, probably with the receiver and it should be swapped out.

      The real issue is the requirement to load the software to SIMPLY CHARGE THE DEVICE WHEN IT IS ATTACHED TO A STANDARD USB PORT. Heck, one might be able to make the case that the USB port specification (see has not been followed and the product is mislabeled. That’s bad for a medical device.

      It is simply a stupid, artificial impediment to ease of use for us patients. It makes absolutely no sense.

      This type of impediment is another example of the attitude that is rampant through out the industry from device makers to the EHR vendors. Everything must keep users locked into that product.

      • Allison Nimlos

        What is a standard USB port? I’m not sure I understand the issue. Don’t you have to plug the Dexcom receiver into the power cord it comes with? And then can’t you plug that into anything USB related? That’s what I do and it’s worked fine. Like I said, I don’t need any software to charge it.

        • Ok, think about it like this… You buy a new phone and it has exactly the same sized USB port as your old phone. You think “cool, I already have cables and chargers for this.” You then get home and none of them work. Calling tech support, you learn that you actually need THEIR USB cables and THEIR car and wall plugs to be able to charge the device. That new phone is using a non-standard USB port.

          I have the the power adaptor in with my bag of pumping supplies, but rarely used it with the 7+. I usually spend several hours a day at my desk and plugging it into the computer was simpler for me. I always have a cable plugged into my PC and, since the G4 port was the same size as the one for my phone, imagine my dismay when the G4 refused to charge when using that same cable

          • Mustang Chris

            I’m out of town and don’t have my charger with me but I think the g4 charger is around 500 mah which is about the lowest power USB charger they make. Any phone charger should work. Anything more powerful then 500 mah will work to. It won’t pull down more amps then it needs.

  • Scott S

    I never use the computer for charging, I use the plug that goes into the electrical outlet so I can charge it while I sleep at night. But I wonder if it would work if I tried it on my PC?

    • Well, if it does work let me know so I can start hounding them to swap it out. I really surprised that they didn’t anyway

      • Mustang Chris

        I have only had my g4 for 6 months so possibly I’m running a newer firmware but mine has always charged off a computer, cell charger, car charger and USB battery pack. I have even charged it off my chromebook.

  • Click1st (1 Bolus @ a Time)

    I’m still beyond pissed that I have done everything to load the software on a Mac via VMWare (yes, I know not supported on Apple) taking off Win8 to put Win7 to no avail. Then since hubs uses a PC we set up a Virtual Machine with Win7 on his computer (bc he uses Win8) solely for the Dexcom and it still won’t upload! Hubs is a software engineer, so he KNOWS computers and there’s no reason that it shouldn’t work with everything we’ve done. A Virtual Machine is the exact same thing as any other machine. I saw the interview with the Dexcom CEO and he said he was pushing for Mac compatibility, however IMHO going to a web-based program would solve so many problems and I’m guessing it would solve the charging issues too. A simple software update via plug in. *sigh* So irritating & I so agree with you! *HUGS*

    • You’re right, I also think they should have gone with a web-based solution, it would make multiple platforms so much easier to deploy and support

  • Brian Whitlock

    I am able to charge either through a powered USB hub or a USB power adaptor(Apple’s 10W or the one that comes with the Kindle). I haven’t tried attaching directly to my laptop. Using the same cord I use for my phone.
    I have noticed that sometimes I have to plug it in more than once and have more luck if isn’t in sleep mode(screen on).
    It is frustrating that it doesn’t just work.

  • Nicole

    My daughter charges hers with her cellphone USB cord and charger as she misplaced the cord and charger her Dexcom G4 came with.

  • lorena

    My G4 charges on a Mac Book Pro without any issue. (no software for MAC)

  • eyleen

    I am pissed i can’t run it on my mac, should i just send it back?

    • The Mac support issue have been a sore spot for years, know any Windows users that might let you use their machine now and again?. As far as sending it back, that’s something you’ll need to decide for yourself. Does it provide enough value without being able to use the tools that allow you to look at longer-term trends?