Everything You Need to Know to Sound Smart About USB Cables

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The flushable toilet. The automobile. Penicillin. USB cables. These are all inventions that transformed the way human civilization operates. Although life without the invention of the flushable toilet is a fascinating subject, the topic of this article is the great development of USB cables.

The Problem
Before the USB cables were invented, every computer, keyboard, mouse, printer, or other plug-in had its own connector and port requirements. Sometimes, in order to use the new device, a custom driver had to be installed on the host computer. Sometimes, conflicting ports could not be run at the same time. This made new equipment incompatible with old, and adoption of new technology slow.

The Solution
In 1994, a collaboration of geniuses from technology giants like Intel, Microsoft, and Apple came together to create universal standards for connecting electronic devices together. These brilliant minds created a solution that uses a standard port to connect any device on the market together and transferred data and power more efficiently than ever. USB cables hit the market in 1995 and quickly gained acceptance with the public. Now it’s so integral with out way of life that we don’t even remember life before USB cables.

Because we particularly like you, and we’re in a good mood today, we put together a guide to becoming an expert on USB cables:

  • USB Cable Generations
    USB 1.0 was released in 1995. USB 1.1 hit the market in 1998. USB 2.0 was released in 2000, and that lasted until USB 3.0 came out in 2008. Regardless of whether your electronic equipment was made during the reign of USB 2.0 cables or USB 3 cables, any post-1995 equipment can interface because of the universal standards of USB cables. Thank you, geniuses from the world’s most powerful technology companies in 1994.


    So what’s the difference between the original model and the third-generation? USB 3.0 made the following improvements:
    • SuperSpeed capacity (This means that the original data transfer speed of .1875MB per second has been increased to 625 MB per second!)
    • Better support for streaming video.
    • Faster syncing.
    • Higher power tolerance.
    • Better management of power
  • What is the actual throughput of a USB cable?
    Generally, you’ll find the throughput of the USB cable to be less than the specification listed on the package. While a USB 3.0 data cable might have a SuperSpeed rate of 625 MB per second, you might find the actual data throughput to be closer to 400 MB per second. However, this generally exceeds the capacity that the hardware a USB cable is hooked up to can process anyway.

  • Maximum USB Cable Length

    A USB 2.0 cable can accurately transfer data for 16.4 feet, and a USB 3.0 cable can transfer data for 9.8 feet. One neat development with USB cables that their predecessor cables did not offer is that they can be daisy-chained together for longer cable maximum cable length. Typically, you can connect up to five USB cables together with repeater extension cables and still achieve high quality data transfer. This means you can get a total length of 82 feet for USB 2.0 cables and 49.2 feet for USB 3 cables.
  • Power Transfer With USB Cables
    One of the coolest aspects of the USB cable that was not available with prior cable technology is its ability to transfer power from its host to a secondary electronic.


    To find out the power requirements for any device that you plug into a USB port in your computer, open the “Device Manager” in your Control Panel and select the “Universal Serial Bus” property. This will show you the total power available per USB port, and how much power each of your attached devices requires.

  • Limitations of USB Cables
    As we mentioned, the limitation of USB cables include:
    • Each USB cable comes with a maximum data rate.
    • Your USB cable will likely have a lower actual throughput capacity.
    • USB cables have limitation of cable length and the maximum number of cables that can be connected to give you a total length (in case you need to continue working while you’re in the bathroom or somewhere far away from a device plugged into your computer).
    • A USB cable is limited by the amount of power that the host computer can offer.

Do you have any other USB knowledge to add to your quick overview? Please contribute it in the comment section below!

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