In computing terms, a port is a piece of hardware that acts as an interface, so you can connect other devices to your machine. A cable plugs into the devices, allowing them to talk to each other and transfer data. USB ports are an industry standard and used on a wide range of devices. With so many USB compatible devices in modern homes, it’s important to have a computer USB cable handy so that you can always connect when you needed.
USB stands for Universal Serial Bus and is an industry standard for cables, connectors and the protocols around connection and communication with computers and devices. Despite being called ‘universal’, USB ports come in different sizes. The size and shape of the ports have changed to accommodate advances in technology; for example, mini-USBs are used in smaller devices.
USB ports brought many improvements over old serial and parallel port technology. USBs are self-configuring, and can be used by simply plugging in the device without needing to configure settings. They are “hot pluggable”, meaning devices can be connected and disconnected without needing to turn the computer off. In addition, there are rigorous compliance tests required before the USB logo can be used, so users can be reassured that USB devices will work as expected.
Different versions of USB ports exist, from the earliest USB 1.0 through to USB 3.0. Each version has brought faster speeds of data transfer and other improvements.
The USB computer cable is the cable used to connect a USB device to the computer. Cables can be bought to fit the many different size of USB ports. Their primary purpose is transferring data between a device and computer and USB technology allows this information to move very quickly. USB cables are also able to transfer power, which allows syncing and charging to occur at the same time. Cables can also be plugged into USB wall chargers, so devices can be charged at any power point.
As the USB port becomes increasingly common, devices that used to rely on serial or parallel ports can now be connected via USB. This includes mice, keyboards, printers and scanners. Some cell phones and tablets use mini-USB ports to sync information with computers and recharge batteries. Digital cameras, both still and video, also take advantage of USB technology to transfer large amounts of data with ease. Other devices exist that rely on USB ports and cables, and more will enter the market as technology continues to evolve.
As there are so many devices relying on USB, it’s possible to run out of ports on your computer. This is especially true of laptop users, as many laptops only have one USB port. If this is you, a USB hub could be the solution. USB hubs work like a power bar of USB ports, allowing multiple devices to be plugged into a single port, though it can slow down transfer speeds.
When looking for a computer USB cable, start by making sure you have the right one. Know which USB port is present in the device you wish to connect and make sure the cable you pick out will fit the port. USB cables come in a variety of lengths, though for the USB 1.1 standard, anything over 5 meters will lose speed. There are some aesthetic considerations, with cables coming in different colours or with LED lights that glow when the cable is in use.