How Do I Know What USB Cable to Buy for My Device?

Chances are, if you have electronic devices in your home, you’ve also got a collection of USB cables of all different types cluttering up your drawers.

While USB cables were originally intended to be universal (hence the name Universal Serial Bus cables), as technology has advanced, so has the data transfer and charging needs of each new device.

What Types of USB Cables are Available?

There are a few different types of USB cables, all based on compatible ports (the parts where you plug the cords in), on the host (the power/data supply), and the receptor (the device being charged or updated).

Original USB Types

  • Type-A USB cables are the original USB cables, and they were designed to fit everything back in the day.
  • Type-B USB cables have more of a square end, and are used to plug in to peripheral devices, such as hard drives and home printers.
  • Type-A and Type-B cables also have mini and micro versions of themselves to service smaller devices.
  • There may also be adapters available for these cables to increase the versatility of your cord collection.

Newer USB Technology

Type-C USB cables are likely to be the future in USB cables. Both ends are the same, and they cannot be plugged in backwards or upside down. A bonus is that these cables are capable of transferring power and data two ways, not just one way. As more devices become compatible with Type-C, users will be able to toss a lot of their old cables and can streamline their charging areas. This has already happened in a lot of cases as USB-C has been adopted as the new standard.

Different Charging Cables

The “pin style” USB lightning charging cables are dedicated to Apple products and are only compatible with these devices.

Differences Between USB 2.0 and 3.0?

The number across USB designations refers to the amount of power or voltage and the amounts of data that the cord can transfer. USB 3.0 cables have more speed and capacity than the older 2.0 cables.

Can All USB Cables Transfer Power and Data?

Yes. These cables contain two dedicated wires: one to transfer power and the other to handle data. That being said, not all USB ports are able to transfer or receive data. Some are designed to only transfer power, in order to recharge the device attached.

Which Cords to Buy?

Once you’ve determined the type of cord required, (Type-A, Type-B or Type-C), the next step is to decide upon the speed and capacity needed for your device. With this information, you’ll be able to power up your electronics quickly and easily.

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