USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. It is a means of connecting a device to a computer so they can communicate and exchange data. USB provides power and data transfer capability to a number of common devices. Computer users should understand the different types of devices that use USB and how to identify connectors by their shapes.
USB is a specification standard that tells manufacturers how to build devices and cables so they are able to communicate with computers with standard USB ports. USB is found on many devices, including computers, gaming systems, joysticks, keyboards, hard drives and memory sticks.
USB comes in four major types of connectors. USB-A is the standard, full size USB plug that fits into the USB jack on most computers. USB-B is a plug shaped kind of like a loaf of bread which plugs into peripheral hardware like a printer, an external sound card or an external hard drive. Smaller hand-held devices like mobile phones and cameras feature a smaller plug called the Mini-B cable. Mini-B cables can vary in size depending on the manufacturer of the device.
Newer USB devices usually use USB 2.0. This is a faster version of USB that is better suited for USB devices that are expected to respond and process data quickly. Many older computers have USB 1.1 plugs. USB 2.0 devices interfaced with cords, USB devices or computers using USB 1.1 may work slowly or not at all.
USB functionality has replaced the need for serial and parallel ports, the previous means of attaching devices to a computer. USB devices are Plug-and-Play, which means that the computer will detect compatible devices when they are plugged into a USB port.
When a user has too many USB devices for the number of available USB plugs on his computer, a USB hub allows more devices to connect to the computer. A USB hub splits one USB plug into several connections. Some high-speed USB devices, especially external hard drives and mice, must be connected directly to the computer USB slot to work.
- Ohio State University: USB Problems
- "Upgrading and Repairing PCs"; Scott Mueller; 2008
- Photo Credit usb 3 image by Bosko Martinovic from Fotolia.com usb style image by Matteo Piras from Fotolia.com usb 2 image by Bosko Martinovic from Fotolia.com
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