How usb ports work

usb ports

If you have an older computer, you already know what a hassle it is to install peripheral devices, such as printers, mice, joysticks, cameras (webcams and digital cameras), and so on. The trouble with older computers is that it can be very difficult to determine just exactly which port you are supposed to plug into. Also, is your device connected via serial or parallel connectors? These connectors are both rather large and cumbersome, and just add to the myriad of confusion that is associated with connecting peripheral devices to your computer.

Enter the USB (Universal Serial Bus) connectors. This method of connection has actually been around for a while. The MAC people were very innovative in their use of the USB port for a few years before the PC manufacturers ‘caught on.’ MAC computers completely did away with all the other device ports, such as the serial and parallel ports, and just put an array of USB ports in the back of their desktop and laptop computers.

Of course, then, they designed another connection, FireWire which is MAC’s screamingly fast, slightly different garden variety version of USB. But, we will not get into that at this time, let us just concentrate on your USB connections for your PC.

Thankfully, PC manufacturers finally figured out how extremely compact and trouble-free USB ports are. First off, USB ports, and the respective cables that plug into them, are very, very small in comparison to the old serial and parallel ports and adapters. USB cables that come with most printers and peripheral devices nowadays are just tiny, little flat rectangles that fit compactly into the ports in the back of your newer desktop and laptop computers. Some computers have as many as four USB ports, which is wonderful if you happen to have a lot of devices to the plugin.

Next, USB means plug-and-play. Yes, that’s right. No more messing about with poorly-written, complicated manuals and disks just to install a mouse! If you have a fairly new computer or plan on purchasing one soon, you will find that any device you plug into a USB port will be automatically recognized by your computer! What?

You may ask yourself if you are in a cyberspace dream world when your computer actually recognizes the printer you just attached via USB port! Even if your computer does not recognize the printer or device you just installed (by some odd circumstance), it will promptly give you a veritable laundry list’ of manufacturer names and product names to choose from! Your life is suddenly so much easier. The USB connection is smart’ which is very useful indeed, especially if you are a novice computer user.

What is important here is that almost all peripheral devices you can purchase right now are USB compatible. In other words, the old connector styles, such as serial, parallel, and PS2, are quickly being phased out in the name of USB. More recently, you have probably seen USB-2 devices advertised. This is just a faster version of USB! USB-2 cables and devices are backwards-compatible to USB, so you have no need to worry if common USB peripheral devices are suddenly being sold as USB-2 devices.

USB is a very smart move that PC manufacturers made, because it freed up a lot of space in the back of most desktop and laptop computers, and made it so much easier for the consumer to add lots of wonderful peripheral devices to their computer.

Now available on the market are terrific little devices that expand your USB port capabilities. What I mean by this is that you can purchase a USB Hub, which is a little box that has between four and eight extra USB ports! You just purchase the hub, plug it into one of your USB ports in the back of your desktop or laptop computer, and voila! Now you have tons of vacant USB ports just ready for your many peripheral devices to be plugged into.

You suddenly have the capability to attach more than one printer to your computer, a scanner, your digital camera to upload your pictures, an extra disk drive or an external floppy drive! All of this without the bulky attachments and cords coming out of your computer, and, your computer more than likely will recognize anything you attach to it with no hassle!

Do consider investing in a little USB hub that has between four and eight USB ports on it. These devices are not extremely expensive (between $25 and $60), and will really come in handy as the holiday season rolls around and you get peripheral devices for your new computer. They make great gifts as well!

Cost is also another consideration when purchasing USB printer/peripheral cables. Remember how the old serial, parallel and PS2 cables cost you between $30 and $90? USB cables are as inexpensive as $6 in most high-end electronics stores. It pays to invest in several USB cables that have the USB connector on one end, and a printer connector on the other. These cables work for a lot of devices, not just printers. A lot of scanners have the same connector type as printers.

Incidentally, once the USB connectors became the industry standard, it was obvious that the transfer speed of data via these smart cables and connections far outshined the previous, older-style of connection ports and devices. USB-2 has recently come into play, and the data speed and versatility has increased yet again. This makes life easier for the consumer and the professional computer user alike!

The Universal Serial Bus connections have changed the look, feel, speed, and efficiency of computing. Just another great advance in the ever-evolving computer technology that is available to us right now!

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