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Computer Cables

  1. Spring Cleaning: Cables to Keep (Or Not)

    Cables to Keep Around the House

    Spring is here and a lot of us are going to use that nicer weather to get a little cleaning done. If your house is anything like everyone else's, there is probably a junk drawer somewhere with a big mess of old cables. After untangling all the knots, you will want to look at each cable to see what you should keep and what can be tossed.

    Keep: Micro USB 2.0

    Micro USB is better known as a “phone charger” since they are mostly used for Android phones. Not to mention tablets, streaming devices, smart speakers, and more. Micro USB is not going anywhere anytime soon, so keeping a few extras around is a good idea right now.

    Keep: Micro USB 3.0

    This upgraded Micro USB is mostly used for external hard drives. Some cell phones use these for charging cables too. While not as widespread as the older 2.0 version, this is new enough that hanging onto one or two of them is worth it.

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  2. USB Extension Cables

    Most devices that use USB cables come with one, but these prepackaged cables tend to be too short. Few things are as annoying as having to leave your device in a weird spot to recharge or trying to keep your phone charger from falling off the table. Using USB extension cords to get a little extra distance can be convenient or outright necessary in these situations.

    There are a few facts to keep in mind when it comes to USB extension cables. First off, make sure you are picking out the correct type of extension cable. The average USB extension cord is going to be USB 2.0 A Male to Female. Some other types do exist, but typically “USB extension” means an A Male to Female cable.

    Another other key detail to check is whether you need a USB 2.0 or 3.0 extension. Usually, the plastic inside the metal end of the USB cable will be color-coded, with 2.0 cables being black or white and 3.0 cables being blue. Not every manufacturer does this, so it never hurts to double-check your cable beforehand. You can use 2.0 extensions with other 3.0 cables, but you will only get USB 2.0 data and recharging speeds. If you want 3.0 speeds, every piece of equipment you are using must be 3.0 rated.

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  3. Computer (Data) Cables

    Computer cables (data cables) are somewhat similar to audio and video cables. Instead of transmitting sound or images, they send data for your computer to use. This can be anything from sending over a Word document to streaming movies and TV shows. Technically ethernet cables fall under this category, but ethernet is such a broad topic it needed its own independent article. Common types of data cables include:

    • USB
    • FireWire
    • Serial
    • DIN
    • PS/2

    USB

    USB is the most common type of data cable today, being found on computers, printers, hard drives, cell phones, and more. Along with transmitting data, USB is commonly used to recharge batteries on cell phones and other devices like video game controllers. There are several types of USB cables in various shapes and sizes. The two primary groups are USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.

    USB 2.0 is capable of speeds up to 480 Mbps and comes in a few different varieties. When someone just says “USB”, they are generally referring to USB 2.0 Type A. These are the standard rectangle-shaped connections you can find on any computer. Next, there is Type B, which is also called a printer cable. Newer printers use this more square-shaped connection instead of older serial connections. Mini USB used to be used on cell phones but has mostly been replaced by Micro USB. You will still occasionally see it on other devices like digital cameras and GPS. Micro USB is still the standard on many Android phones but is starting to be replaced by USB 3.0 Type-C.

    Another ver

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