Today, we live in a modern world where modern problems require modern solutions. But have you ever wondered why there are different types of USB ports?
Why can’t we just use one universal port and save ourselves from the frantic search of which USB port or connector is the right one to use? It just makes more sense right? But of course, it’s not that simple because there’s more technicality to it than how it seems.
So what are the types of USB ports? Today, we’re going to enumerate them and find out what they’re used for and what their differences are which can be helpful especially if we work around different gadgets and machines day after day since teaching is the profession.
And if you’re just wondering about that, this would be the perfect article for you because we’re going to answer those questions now on the spot.
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What are the types of USB Ports | The USB Origins
To further elaborate on our topic for today, we’re just going to quickly answer what a USB is and how it came to be.
The Universal Serial Bus system a.k.a USB system was developed by Ajay Bhatt while he was working with Intel in 1996 which then created the standard plugs and connections that we use in technology computers, machines, and devices nowadays.
And thankfully this system was created because if it weren’t, our computer systems today would surely look like spaghetti and meatballs with all the wires going on because it did look like that back in the day before the USB system was introduced.
It simplified and empowered connections and it did provide a big impact on how our lives go day by day, especially in school. Just imagine setting up computers in school back in the day, it must have taken a few hours of preparation.
But as we move forward with all the innovations the USB system is still being improved leading to the different types of USB ports and connectors that we use and see today.
Types Of USB Ports and Connectors: 101
Can you take a guess as to how many types of USB ports there are? Most of us have already encountered maybe 3 to 4 types of USB ports and connectors and all of them are used on different devices for different purposes.
First off, we have the USB-A port, as the most standard type of port, this one you will always see in just about any type of device or at the other end of the majority of cables and connectors that we use (i.e. power brick chargers).
The USB-A port is also all over the place that is physically seen in laptops, computers, TVs, game consoles, car stereos, and all other devices that we used on a daily basis.
This type of port is rectangular in size and fits in one way only. When seen on connectors and cables, the USB-A will only be seen on one end and a different type of port will usually be seen on the other, but never the same USB-A port on each end as this can cause damage to whatever device you plan on plugging both ends to.
Next up on our list is the USB-B which is kinda rare to see and use nowadays, and we’ll talk about the reason behind that more in a minute.
You might have already seen a USB-B type of port used in most larger devices such as printers or other similar types of machine—the one we have here at home actually uses this kind of port but other than that I haven’t really seen or used other devices that uses this kind of port anymore.
They’ve fallen out of favor due to other smaller ports providing more ease of use and are much lighter compared to size weight. Most USB-B connectors also use a larger and clumpier type of cord which can add to visual clutter on work desks as well.
You might be familiar with this type of USB port as this was largely used on first-generation mobile devices like an android smartphone and this was like a miniature version of the USB-B port.
Also during the era of digital cameras, and other portable devices like mp3 players and such, brands made use of the USB-Mini as a charging port and a connector as well. And this type of port usually has a 4-pin or 5-pin connector.
The USB-B Mini was later on replaced with the USB-B Micro port which is the standard and is widely used today on most tech gadgets and devices. You’ll still see this type of port all over the place as it’s still a popular option for smartphones and even for external hard drives.
Taking the tech world by storm recently is the newest version in the USB system is the USB-C port. Considered to be the newest standard for USB most smartphones, tablets, laptops, computers, and other types of devices have already integrated the use of this port.
Unlike all other connectors, that will always use USB-A on the other end, the USB-C can be used on both ends to connect two different devices for different purposes whether if it’s for transferring data, display, or for charging the device only.
But most USB-C connectors still have USB-A on the other end which can then be used to plug into computers, laptops, power bricks, and more. And the best thing about it is that it’s completely reversible, so you don’t have to take that second thought if you’re placing the connector into the port the right way.
Another unique thing about the USB-C port and connector is its Thunderbolt hardware interface which makes it possible to transfer data rapidly compared to its predecessors, high-resolution displays are also made possible with the USB-C, and performance-wise it is indeed supreme to all other types of USB ports and connectors as of the moment.
This type of port can also be used as a multi-purpose jack but it would depend on the type of device that you’re using if it’s supported.
USB Speed Standards
Now that you’re familiar with the different types of ports and connectors, let’s move on now to other important things to know about the USB system which is their speed standards.
And the USB system has been observed to have gone through three types of standards which have also upgraded just like from the USB-A to the USB-C—and these are the following:
USB 1.0 and 1.1
When the USB system rolled out in 1996, USB 1.0 was first released and was later on followed by the USB 1.1 which became the standard for USB until its next successor came into play.
You can think of this version as the Jurassic version of USB’s speed standard because it’s highly unlikely that you will still see one of these nowadays as it would be remarkably slow.
USB got a major upgrade in early 2000 when USB 2.0 was released, this made transfer speeds more reliable and also helped other types of ports that we’ve p[reviously come into play.
USB 2.0 is pretty much still a standard today and can be seen on most flash drives, wired keyboards, and mouse, and other devices that do not really need much power for transferring data or bandwidth when in use.
USB 3.0 onwards
Garnering more speed than the USB 2.0 can offer, USB 3.0 has been the biggest makeover the USB has ever had and is still coming up with faster and more reliable transfer speed and power.
When it comes to appearance the only thing that differs between the 2.0 and the 3.0 is the pin connectors they have. If you will look closely USB 2.0 only has 4 connectors, while the 3.0 onwards has 5 metal connectors with 4 behind, and they usually come in the color blue.
The color blue can help you distinguish right away if the port or connector that you are using is indeed a USB 3.0 and sometimes a lightning bolt symbol is also embossed to tell you that the connector or port that you are using is a 3.0.
So logically, if you have a device with a connector that only has 4 pins, it should go into a USB 2.0 port—but don’t worry you can still plug it into a USB 3.0 port as it is backward compatible but do note that there will be speed deficiency since you are connecting a USB 2.0 device connector to a USB 3.0 port.
For example, if you are to plug in an external hard drive that has a USB 3.0 connector into a USB 2.0 port, definitely anticipate deferred transfer speed as the connector and the port are not compatible standard-wise.
To Sum It Up…
So practically, USB-A is still pretty standard and will be found on most connectors and ports that we use today. But USB-C is slowly creeping in and will most likely make them obsolete one day, but for the time being, they still serve their own purposes by helping us stay connected and productive.
Just remember that for devices that speed is not the topmost priority like keyboards, computer mice, and the likes can be plugged into a USB 2.0 port and it will work just fine.
But if speed is indeed your priority like for example transferring files from the computer to an external hard drive or vice versa better check if you’re plugging it correctly into a USB 3.0 port, the same rule of thumb applies with connectors.
I hope this quick run-through has enlighted and helped you figure out the difference from one port to another and their uses as well. And if it did I’d be glad to read your comments and thoughts down below!
Until our next one, soon!