USB cables are everywhere − at work, at home, even in our vehicles. ShowMeCables should know, as we offer more than 150 types of them. But shopping for the cable you need does not have to be difficult. Below we summarize the benefits of USB, then clarify the differences among:

  • The popular USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1
  • Connector types USB-A, -B, -C, Mini-USB and Micro-USB.

Why USB Is so Popular

Universal Serial Bus specifications were first released in 1996 to standardize the connection of personal computers to peripheral devices. USB cables have since become the go-to connector between PCs and printers, scanners, cameras, audio players, etc. Their key advantages include:

  • USB cables transfer data much faster than serial cables.
  • USB cables carry power as well as signals.
  • USB’s several distinct connector types make it easy to identify which plug fits where.
  • USB cables are a universal standard and thus available and affordable.

USB 2.0, 3.0 and 3.1

The three versions serve mostly the same functions, with the chief difference being the speed at which data can be transferred. With a transfer speed of 10 Gbps, USB 3.1 is twice as fast as USB 3.0, which is twice as fast as USB 2.0. Increased speeds are especially useful with tasks such as copying or saving files into your external hard drive or downloading data from a camera into your PC.

USB 3.0 cables both deliver more power and consume less power than USB 2.0. Thus, charging your phone with a USB 3.0 cord will take half the time of a USB 2.0 cord. And editing a file directly from your 3.0 flash drive will not drain your laptop’s charge.

All three versions are in common use, partly because each is backwards compatible with previous versions: USB 2.0 with versions 1.0 and 1.1, USB 3.0 with versions 2.0 and 1.1, and USB 3.1 with versions 2.0 and 3.0.

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