usb technology

USB Technology: The Ultimate Guide

Do you want to follow advancements in Information Technology? These are happening at such a breathtaking pace that keeping abreast of all the latest developments seems like a very daunting task. 

The current version of a technology that appears to be the mainstream soon becomes replaced with a newer standard – having novel features & improvements.

USB technology has also seen many improvements & changes since its inception. Each revision has increased data transfer rates while also staying backward-compatible with older ones.

In this lengthy post, I’m going to cover USB technology in depth. You will learn many things including:

  • What USB is
  • Purpose & its advantages
  • USB types and their differences
  • USB cable & connector types
  • Use it for the maximum benefit.

Ready to explore this common but powerful tech? Let’s start…….

Table of contents below will help you to get an idea about what’s covered, and jump to the section that you find more interesting:

USB Definition

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, an external bus standard.

A bus is a computer subsystem that transfers data between computer components or between computers.

It is an industry standard developed in the mid-1990s that defines the cables, connectors and communications protocols used for connection, communication, and power supply between computers and electronic devices.


USB Logo

Companies that initiated the development of USB in 1994 included Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Nortel.

What’s the bottom line?

USB technology was designed to standardize, simplify & improve the connection of computer peripherals to personal computers, both to communicate and to supply electric power.

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This was needed to eliminate many different interfaces at the back of PC, which had usability issues so that different devices can connect easily through a single interface.

It also allowed for better data transfer rates for the attached devices.

These peripherals include keyboards, pointing devices, digital cameras, printers, portable media players, disk drives, scanners and flash drives.

Even some mini fans and vacuum cleaners are powered by USB!


Image Source: Flickr

Due to this standardization, USB technology has mostly REPLACED serial, parallel, PS/2 (mouse & keyboard), joystick ports etc. on computers.

It has also replaced most battery charging ports on portable devices and is now a selected standard charging format for many mobiles, thus reducing many other proprietary chargers.

USB has also become commonplace on other devices, such as smartphones, flash drives and video game consoles etc.

USB technology is currently developed by the USB Implementers Forum (USB IF) – the non-profit organization to promote and support USB.     

Advantages Of USB technology

Following are its different benefits:

  • It provides ease of use for the user as it is self-configuring so he/she doesn’t need to adjust any settings on the computer or device.
  • USB interfaces are standardized at the host; so any device can use any available port to connect.
  • The power present at the host can be used by attaching devices to manage and/or charge themselves.
  • The devices can be plugged in and out without rebooting the host PC as the interface is hot-pluggable.
  • The USB standard is pretty much reliable over other interfaces as its protocols provide recovery from common errors.
  • New device configuration is mostly plug n play; it automatically configures by using the already present drivers.
  • It makes it a lot easier for device manufacturers and software developers to use it for all new devices, instead of creating new interfaces. Speed of different USB standards caters to new hardware.
  • It can be used for data transfer in the background with minimum effect on system resources.

Different USB Specifications

Thinking what different USB terms mean?

Dear reader, if you have questions in your mind like I had about how do the terms like USB 2 & USB 3  differ, following details will help you understand basic differences:

Currently, there are four specifications of USB technology: USB 1.x, USB 2.0, USB 3.x and USB 4.

USB 1.x

Introduced in January 1996, USB 1.0 defined data transfer rates of 1.5 Mbps Low speed and 12 Mbps Full speed.

1.5 Mbps was for lower data rate devices like keyboard, mice etc. while 12 Mbps for devices requiring high speed like printers & floppy disk drives.

The first widely used version of USB was 1.1, released in September 1998, and was adopted by PC manufacturers to use in their products.

USB 2.0

USB 2.0 was released in April 2000 and was approved by USB-IF by the end of 2001.

It was developed to achieve higher data transfer rates. USB 2.0 speed is 480 Mbps, 40 times faster than the original USB 1.1 (12 Mbps).

This version supports Type-A, Type-B, Mini USB & Micro USB connectors.

USB 3.x

USB 3.0

Also called SuperSpeed, it was released on 12 November 2008.

It defines a SuperSpeed transfer mode of up to 5.0 Gbps theoretically, 10 times faster than USB 2.0!

That’s crazy:

Practically, it is around 3.2 Gbps due to different factors like flow control, protocol overhead etc., which is still many times faster as compared to USB 2.0 speed.

USB 3.0 provides better speed, decreased power consumption and increased power output than USB 2.0. USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0 devices; however, data transfer speeds are limited to USB 2.0 levels when these devices inter-operate.

USB 2.0 & USB 3.0 provides up to 500 mA & 900 mA current respectively.

USB 3.0 uses two unidirectional data paths –  full-duplex, one to receive data and the other to transmit, while USB 2.0 can handle only one direction of data at any time i.e. half-duplex.

USB 3.0 is identified through distinct logo – SS – and usually has blue colored Type-A plug & receptacle in order to distinguish them from USB 2.0, but the blue color is not always the case as black is also used.


PC with USB 2.0 (black) & USB 3.0 (blue) ports

It uses Type-A, Type-B & Micro connectors.

Devices with USB 3.0 ports went on sale in January 2010.

You can get an idea from the following data copying test, which indicates the differences between USB 3.0 speed as compared to USB 2.0 speed:


This test was done with a USB 2.0 flash drive and a USB 3.0 flash drive. Both were attached to a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port one by one, and same data was copied to both.

You can compare the data transfer speed in pictures. USB 3.0 drive copied the data in 10 sec while 2.0 copied in 24 sec; more than half the difference! 

USB 3.1

This standard was released on 31 July 2013. It has two variants:

USB 3.1 Gen 1

It retains the USB 3.0’s SuperSpeed transfer mode i.e. 5.0 Gbps.

USB 3.1 Gen 2

It introduces a transfer mode called SuperSpeed +.

It doubles the transfer rate of USB 3.0 to 10 Gbps; in actual it is around 7.2 Gbps!

This standard can power any type of device.

USB-A and USB-C are the only connectors that can be used for this standard.

The USB 3.1 standard is backward compatible with its predecessors, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.

USB 3.2

This specification was published in September 2017.

It introduces two new SuperSpeed+ transfer modes using the USB-C connector, having data rates of 10 Gbps & 20 Gbps.

This standard only uses a USB-C connector.

Note: USB-IF recommends to brand 5 Gbps, 10 Gbps, 20 Gbps transfer modes as SuperSpeed USB, SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps, and SuperSpeed USB 20 Gbps, respectively.                              


This standard was released in August 2019.

It has some benefits as compared to previous versions of USB technology:

  • It supports up to 40 Gbps of data transfer
  • Better resource allocation for video and data transport.

Second point means that it is designed to have its high bandwidth capability shared among multiple devices dynamically in order to maximize resource utilization.

It will efficiently divide available bandwidth between video and data if used simultaneously; this is not the case with USB 3.

This standard will work over only the USB-C connector.

What’s best about it?

It is backward compatible with USB 2 & USB 3 devices, ports & cables but the benefits received will be only of the weakest connection.

You will need to have port, device & cable that support USB 4 in order to gain the advantages!

Because this standard has just been released and will be more expensive to implement – costly ports & cables, USB 4 availability in devices will take time and it may appear around late 2020 or 2021.

To summarize above, main points of these USB standards are shown in the table below for easier understanding:

USB Standard

Year Released


Transfer Mode

USB 1.0

January 1996

1.5 Mbps

Low Speed

USB 1.1

September 1998

12 Mbps

Full Speed

USB 2.0

April 2000

480 Mbps

High Speed

USB 3.0

November 2008

5 Gbps


USB 3.1 Gen 1

July 2013

5 Gbps


USB 3.1 Gen 2

July 2013

10 Gbps


USB 3.2

September 2017

20 Gbps



August 2019

40 Gbps



I want to mention another interesting hardware interface – Thunderbolt – which is developed by Intel with Apple to connect external devices with a computer just like USB.

Although its earlier versions Thunderbolt 1 & 2 used different connectors, last one, Thunderbolt 3, uses a connector similar to USB-C.  That’s why it’s pertinent to mention it here.

thunderbolt 3 ports and symbol

Thunderbolt 3 Symbol and Port    Image License: Creative Commons

As USB 4 still isn’t available on PCs, Thunderbolt 3 – which came in 2015 – delivers many of the same benefits like USB 4:

  • It provides transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps which is four times faster as compared to USB 3.1, but the cable length needs to be 1.6 feet or shorter.
  • It is capable of audio output on its own and can turnout audio, video and power at the same time. It can present video content on up to two 4K displays or one 5K display. It also improves the performance of VR headsets.
  • Can charge your device at up to 100W of power.

But here’s the kicker:

One thing you need to be very clear about: don’t mix Thunderbolt 3 with USB because of Type-C connector. Thunderbolt 3 uses its own port and cable, while USB has its own. Its cables will not work in USB-C ports and vice versa.

Both are different.

thunderbolt 3 cable

Thunderbolt 3 Cable         Image License: Creative Commons

Intel has made Thunderbolt technology an open standard so that other manufacturers can adopt it. With USB 4, it will be done.

We can easily conclude that currently Thunderbolt 3 is the most powerful & versatile port available – more than USB 3.2 – and tech-savvy people want it on their PCs for much improved performance.

USB Connectors & Cables

You need to understand the difference between the connector used on devices and the one attached to the cable.

The connector mounted on the device or host is called receptacle (also called port); it is the female connector. The connector attached at the end of the cable is called plug, the male connector.

A plug is inserted into the receptacle to make a connection.


USB Plug (foreground) & USB Receptacle (background) 

Type-A and Type-B plugs and receptacles are used till USB 3.0.

Type-C is used from USB 3.1 onwards.

By design it is easier to identify how to properly insert the plug into the receptacle so that users can easily use them; it applies to Type-A and Type-B.

Want to know the best part?

Type-C can be used in any manner as it doesn’t have any “right way to use”; a big benefit of an already powerful connector.

USB Connectors

Following details with pictures will help you easily understand different connectors:

Type-A USB Connector

This is the most common type of USB connector (male & female). It is flat, rectangular in shape and carries both data and power.

This connector type is the original & mostly used USB connector type. They are supported in USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1.

It is mostly black in color with the exception of USB 3.0, which is often but not always blue.


USB Type-A Connector

Type-A is used mostly in PCs (desktops, laptops), some tablets, video game consoles (PlayStation, Xbox etc.), televisions, DVD and Blu-ray players etc.

Male connectors are mostly found at one end of a USB cable, to connect a host device to another device with a different connector at the other end of cable like Micro-B, Type-B or Type-C.

It is also found in flash drives and at the end of keyboards, mouse cables.

USB 3.0 Type-A connector has nine pins as compared to four pins of USB 2.0 and 1.1 connectors, making data transfer much faster, but they can be used easily with one another.

Type-B USB Connector

It is nearly square in shape, with top exterior corners having slopes.

It is also supported in USB 1.1, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. USB 3.0 Type-B is mostly blue in color, but it is not necessary as it is up to the manufacturer to choose its color.

Type-B ports are mostly found in scanners, printers; and sometimes found in optical drives, hard drive enclosures.

Commonly, Type-B plug is found on one end of the cable while Type-A plug on the other. Type-B plug fits into Type-B port on a printer or some other device while Type-A plug goes into Type-A port on a host, like a PC.

Type-B connectors of USB 1.1 and 2.0 are compatible with one another so plug of one will insert into a port of another.

But you know:

This is not the case with USB 3.0 Type-B connector, as its plug will not fit into a port of previous USB versions; but the plugs of previous USB versions will fit into port of USB 3.0 Type-B ports.

There are nine pins in the connector of USB 3.0 Type-B connector as compared to four pins of previous versions connectors. It allows for faster data transfer rates.

This connector is shown a bit later along with other connectors.

Mini USB Connector

Introduced in April 2000 along with USB 2.0, they are meant to be used with smaller devices like digital cameras, smartphones, external hard drives etc.

This connector type is much smaller than Type-A and Type-B but bigger than Micro USB. 

There are two types:

  • Mini-A
  • Mini-B

While Mini-A connector has been discontinued, Mini-B is still used.

Digital cameras commonly use Mini-B port for Mini-B/Type-A cable that connects it to a PC.

In the future, Mini-USB and other USB connectors will be replaced by USB-C connector.

Micro USB Connector

This very small connector type was introduced by USB-IF in January 2007. It is of the same width as Mini USB but is much less thick.

It was developed to replace Mini USB in thinner devices like smartphones, PDAs, cameras.  It is also more durable as compared to the Mini connector.

Micro USB was promoted to be the standard connector for data and power on mobile devices by main cellular companies and other groups.

It connects a smartphone to a PC or AC charger by having Type-A plug on the other end of the cable.

There are two types of this connector:

  • Micro-A
  • Micro-B

As USB-C is being widely adopted now, Micro USB has been replaced by it on many of the new devices.


Micr0 USB Connector

USB-C Connector

USB-C specification was done in August 2014. Slightly larger than Micro-USB, it is meant to replace all other USB connectors and has already replaced Micro USB on many devices like smartphones.

It is a small reversible plug connector that can be plugged into a port in either way as opposed to other connectors. It provides for hassle-free connection and can connect to both host and device.


USB-C Connector

It was introduced with USB 3.1. It has a total of 24 pins (12x2), so it provides faster data transfer.

C connector is used by many new desktops and laptops that support USB 3.1. It gives more speed – up to 10 Gbps, and power – up to 100W, with USB 3.1 specification.

More power means devices can be charged much faster as compared to earlier versions.

It can display output on one 4k display at a time, but can’t output audio on its own. It needs a DAC or USB Type-C to HDMI cable to yield audio.


Common USB connectors: left to right – Micro USB, Male Mini USB B-Type, Male B-type, Female A-Type, Male A-Type)


Micro USB connector (blue), Type-C USB connector (black) & iPhone Lightning connector (white)

These plugs along with pins are shown below:


Image Source: PCMag

USB Cables

Different cables are used to connect devices and hosts for data transfer and battery charging.

There are cables that support only 480 Mbps i.e. USB 2.0.

5.0 Gbps – USB 3.0 – cables are marked with the “SuperSpeed” sign. Full-featured USB-C cables that support 10 Gbps – USB 3.1 Gen 2 – are identified with the SuperSpeed+ logo.

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In order to support SuperSpeed, the cable contains twice as many wires compared to previous versions, thus they’re a bit larger in diameter.


USB 3 (white) & USB 2 (black) cables thickness difference

The following section lists some of the common USB cable types:

Micro B/Type-A Cable


Type-C/ Type-A Cable


Mini-B/Type-A Cable


Type-B/Type-A Cable

iPhone Cable


iPhone USB cable. A different Lightning connector is used for iPhone 

Cables With Same Connectors 

There are cables with Type-A or Type-C at both ends!

They can be used to connect computers for transferring data, and connect a smartphone with C connector to a laptop/desktop having C type connector as well, for charging or copying files.


Advanced cables and connectorsThe development of USB technology gave rise to connectors & cables having additional data paths.

USB Upstream And Downstream Ports

These ports (receptacles) usually refer to ports on a USB hub. An upstream port connects to the host device (PC), while the downstream ports are where you plugin peripheral devices (thumb drives, printers, etc.).

In the case of a host (PC) to a USB peripheral connectivity with a cable, the port on the peripheral device is the upstream port, while the one on PC is the downstream port.


It is a device that extends one USB port on a host into multiple ports so that more devices can be connected.

You can overcome the issue of the limited number of ports on your PC with the usage of a USB hub.

 These hubs come in different sizes: like external boxes connected to host with a cable or smaller ones that plugin directly to a USB port on a host.

This hardware device provides one-step attachment and removal of multiple devices like a mouse and printer, instead of plugging them in and out separately.

There are different types of USB hubs:

Self-Powered (Active Hub)

These hubs get power from an AC source and usually provide full power (500 mA) to every downstream port.

Bus-Powered (Passive Hub)

Hubs of this type obtain power from a single USB port they plugin. So they have to divide 500 mA for itself and other downstream ports on that hub.

For example, a four-port hub will provide only 100 mA to each port and use the remaining 100 mA for its functioning.


A Bus-Powered USB Hub with Wireless Mouse and Smartphone connected 

It is obvious that it provides much less power as compared to a self-powered hub. Keyboard and mice normally need less than 100 mA but other USB drives and storage devices require more, and may not work on this type of hub.

As USB-C ports support more power than Type-A ports, bus-powered USB-C hubs can connect more devices.


It can work both as self-powered and bus-powered, and choose their mode when one of the power sources is not available.

Note: In order to have high-speed (USB 2.0) devices operating in their fastest mode, you need to have a high-speed hub between the devices and the computer. High-speed devices will fall back to full-speed (USB 1.1) when attached to a full-speed hub (or connected to an older full-speed computer port).

USB Power

USB supplies power to USB downstream devices connected to a host like PC.


USB-IF has defined a power rating for each USB version. As advancements have been made, the power capabilities of USB have increased from a mere 2.5W to 100W.

The following table shows the power capabilities of each USB standard:

USB Standard




USB 2.0




USB 3.0




USB Power Delivery (USB PD)

It is a specification that enables the use of specific PD cables to increase power supply for devices with big power demand.

It generates power using USB-C cables. USB-C cable has the extra wire over which USB PD operates.

USB PD over USB-C promises to power all of all our devices, the ones that draw less than 100 W, with just one adapter.

Please check the table shown below for PD specifications:




















Want to know the best part?

It will help people to stop dependence on different AC/DC adapters they have accumulated -- a very appealing prospect!

Following battery logos indicate that the port supports USB PD specification:


Image Source: PCMag

Additional USB Port Types

Charging Port

This port is meant to charge a device like smartphone faster as compared to other ports. You can identify it by a lightning bolt symbol.

It can charge in almost half the time as compared to any other types of ports.

This symbol will be accompanied by a standard USB (2.0) symbol or USB 3.0 “SS” sign to indicate its strength.

It is shown in the following figure on the extreme right side:


You can also see in the above picture a USB 3.0 "SS" port which is black in color as opposed to blue, which is mostly used.

If the phone is charging slowly after connecting to the right charging port, the data cable might be faulty.

Sleep-And-Charge Port

Also called “Always On” port, this port can be used to charge devices even when the PC is turned off!

Usually, the ports are also powered down when you shut down the computer, so phones and other devices cannot be charged.


Sleep-and-Charge port remains powered even when the host (PC) is off.

It can be identified by its color like red or yellow but it is not always necessary.

On some laptops and desktops, it is not colored but the charging port (see above) is also the Always On port which gives double advantage in a single port.

You may need to enable them in the BIOS of your PC for this feature to work.

Obviously, the desktop computer needs to remain connected to AC power for these “Always On” ports to function.


  • In the case of a laptop, it can function without main power supply because of battery, but be careful as charging devices from your laptop when it is not charged from AC power will drain its battery faster.
  • Your cable needs to be perfect in order to have fast charging and charging when the PC is off. I experienced it first-hand when it didn’t work because of a bad cable; rectified when I replaced the cable.

Another one related to display:


It is the most advanced audio/video (A/V) display connection technology.

These ports now use USB-C connector to deliver enhanced visual experience (monitor resolution of 4k and above) plus data transfer of SuperSpeed 3.1 and power of up to 100 W.

It delivers high-performance features than any other digital interface and is designed to replace older standards like VGA and DVI in the future.

Impressive, isn’t it?

This port is backward compatible with VGA, DVI & HDMI with plug adapters.

It is seen on many of the laptops nowadays, and is indicated by the “D” symbol as shown in the picture below.


USB Charging

USB battery charging standard is 5V at 1.5 A (7.5W)

Note: V is voltage, A is amperes & W is Watts (Power). Power supplied is calculated by multiplying voltage with amperes.

The amperage can vary from 0.07A to 2.4 A.

USB ports on computers have an upper limit of 500mA, which means they are weaker as compared to USB chargers that come with phones or other devices; capable of one or more amps.

As devices like smartphones are connected to dedicated chargers or PCs, they sense and adjust their charging.

Mostly, USB chargers and USB ports connect to the cable via Type-A USB plug and other end have a plug depending upon the device: Mini USB, Micro USB or USB Type-C.

Fast charging standard supports charging devices faster than standard USB charging as mentioned above. In these fast chargers, the device pulls more current and/or voltage in order to increase power.

Fast chargers produce more power by handling more volts and amperes.  They can give amperes – up to 2.4 A – and voltage – around 9V.

What’s best about them?

They increase the charging rate considerably as compared to standard USB chargers – more than double in most cases!

As shown in the below pictures, a fast charger has higher amperes and volts resulting in more power while a standard charger has a lower number of those figures.


Fast USB Charger


Standard USB Charger

You can see that the faster charger produces power of 15W & 10W, while the slower charger yields just 3.5W.

Different companies have different names for fast charging, like:

  • Qualcomm – Quick charge
  • Samsung – Adaptive Fast Charging
  • Huawei – SuperCharge

USB Mass Storage

USB mass storage uses the software, which after plugging in the device, shows its contents like that of an internal hard drive.  

USB storage devices include flash drives, memory card readers, and portable hard drives. The hot-swapping feature of USB drives makes them very useful.

Following images show some types of flash drives and a portable hard drive:


I carried out a test to check the data transfer rate of a USB 3.0 portable hard drive using a USB 3.0 port and another one with 2.0 port, as shown below:                           


As you can see in above pictures, portable drive attached to a USB 3.0 port (left) copied 1.2 GB data at approximately 50 MB/s. On the other hand, when attached to 2.0 port, it only managed to get 1.2 GB data at 25 MB/s.

So 3.0 port copied data at double the speed. It was shown by time taken also; 24 sec vs 48 sec!

Here is another big advantage: 

Apart from carrying data (official files, videos, pictures, bookmarks, Twitter archive etc.), you can also use these mass storage devices to store and execute portable software applications instead of installing them on host PC.

These portable apps include web browsers like Chrome and Firefox, media players like VLC, password managers like LastPass & KeePass, and FTP software like FileZilla etc.

USB OTG (On-The-Go)

OTG specification (late 2001) is an enhancement to USB technology that enables portable (on-the-go) devices to be connected together without the need for a PC. 

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Just like in the case of a computer, OTG devices act like one of them is a host and the other as peripheral through automatic negotiation.

OTG supports USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.

OTG helps to resolve the issue of not being able to connect peripheral devices directly. Before it, they can only be connected to a host like a computer.

To make it more clear, you can use tablets or smartphones to act as a host and connect other USB peripherals devices like keyboard, mice, digital cameras, USB flash drives to them.


Type-C USB OTG Adapter 

Another example will be connecting a printer (host) to a USB flash drive (peripheral) and printing images from it.

As it has become known that smartphones can connect to other devices directly, there has been a lot of demand for OTG adapters and cables.

That’s not surprising.

You must check about your phone because not all smartphones support OTG.

The host is OTG A-device (power supplier) and the peripheral is OTG-B device (power consumer).

OTG Cables & Connectors

The original OTG standard specified Mini-AB plug receptacle on an OTG device – like a smartphone – that was later replaced by Micro-AB. It can accept either a Micro-A plug or a Micro-B plug.  

You can use a Micro USB OTG adapter to connect one end of it to Micro-AB receptacle on the smartphone and the other end, which supports standard A plug, to peripheral devices like a flash drive, keyboard, DSLR camera etc.

But that’s old now!

After the introduction of Type-C connector, smartphones & tablets with C type connector can connect to an OTG adapter with Type-C on one end and Type-A on the other end.

Apart from OTG adapters without a cable, OTG adapters with cable are also available with either a Micro USB or Type-C plug on one end and Type-A on the other end.


Micro USB OTG Adapter with Cable

In the case of USB 3.0, for SuperSpeed OTG devices, Type-C receptacle is used on OTG hosts like a smartphone.

Uses Of OTG

In order to fully understand the benefits, following are the interesting uses of this feature:

  • You can use OTG to connect a flash drive, an external hard drive to your smartphone. Through OTG cable, you can view and use your flash drive in your smartphone.
  • View your digital camera photos on your smartphone through an SD card reader connected to your phone via USB OTG Adapter.
  • Use a keyboard with the phone through the OTG adapter. This helps if you write a lot while traveling.
  • Attach a mouse to your phone, in case the touch screen is damaged and you have to use your smartphone/tablet. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) added support for mouse.
  • It is also possible to connect more than one device to a smartphone/tablet by using a USB hub and OTG adapter, like a mouse and keyboard can be connected simultaneously.
  • USB Light is a device feature that can be taken advantage of through USB OTG. Although it can drain the battery of the phone, it can be used when there is no other light source available: like in case of a power breakdown or out somewhere in a dark place. Smartphone flashlight pales in comparison to a USB powered light.
  • Using LAN via OTG is another benefit of OTG. If you can’t use WiFi because it is slow and unreliable, a USB LAN adapter along with an OTG adapter can be used to connect an Ethernet cable to the smartphone.This way you can use a better network (LAN) connection for Internet access.
  • USB sound cards are also available, and can be connected to your phone through OTG in case the headphone port isn’t working.
  • You can also use smartphone as a power bank to charge another phone through OTG in case of any charging source not available.

Check this video to get a clear idea about the uses of USB OTG

Wireless USB

Also abbreviated as “WUSB”, it is a form of USB technology that uses radio frequency links rather than cables to provide connectivity for devices.

These devices include game controllers, printers, scanners, digital cameras, wireless keyboards & mice, external drives & flash drives, Wi-Fi routers etc.

A wireless mouse along with its RF receiver is shown below:

wireless mouse with usb receiver

Designed to operate in 3.1 to 10.6 GHz frequency range, it allows for connection of up to 480 Mbps (USB 2.0).

The distance limit is up to 3 meters with a data rate of 480 Mbps and 10 meters with 110 Mbps.

USB Technology Usage For Maximum Benefits

For you, this is a very important part of this post.

As this post is heading towards the finish, I do want to mention the utilization of this technology in a way so that you people don’t use USB just for the sake of it; but use it more effectively to benefit from its advancements.

Keep reading below:

Better Data Transfer Through USB

In order to have the best data transfer through USB, opt for the fastest USB devices available to you.

Like for example, if you have a USB 2.0 device, cable and port (receptacle) then you will only get a transfer rate of 480 Mbps. But if you go for USB 3.0, you will transfer data at 5.0 Gbps maximum (3.2 Gbps actual); a huge jump from a mere 480 Mbps.

To further boost productivity, USB 3.1 & 3.2 are available to get data at the rate of up to a whopping 10 Gbps ( 3.1) & 20 Gbps (3.2)!

The main point of discussing all this is: you need to get all things of the same standard of USB technology – peripheral device, cable, host port – in order to have maximum output. If any of the three is of lower specification than the other two, the data rate will drop to its level.

You need to try and get the maximum standard USB devices in order to get the most out of this technology.

Thunderbolt 3 Benefits

Although not a USB standard, Thunderbolt is beneficial; that’s why I’m mentioning it here.

As mentioned earlier in the post, Thunderbolt 3 is the most powerful port available to us today.

If you want to have the best transfer of data, maximum charging rate, better video/data bandwidth utilization then go for a laptop or desktop with one of these ports available.

It might not be one of your priorities to get these ports now, but getting it in the near future will make your computer usage much more productive. It can only be experienced by using it first-hand.

Type-C Benefits And Usage

Type-C is becoming universal as the time is passing: it is adopted by newer technologies, and is replacing older specifications like Micro-USB etc. Try to get devices and PCs with these ports as it can help you in the following ways:

It can be used in any way so it is just sort of plug n play, without the need for looking how to insert it properly. It provides convenience and saves time.

As it is used by USB 3.1 & 3.2, it can give you data transfer of up to 20 Gbps, which is phenomenal as compared to that of USB 2.0.

USB-C is also used by USB PD to deliver much more power (up to 100 W) to devices for their functioning and charging.

You can use Type-C cables with supported chargers to benefit from faster charging.

USB Hub Benefits

Get a USB Hub, preferably self-powered, so that you can connect more devices than allowed by available ports on your PC.

Here’s another gain:

Even if you have available ports, a hub can be used to connect and disconnect multiple devices – mouse, keyboard, printer – in a single step instead of going through the hassle of plugging them in and out separately: it saves time.

Try to get a USB 3.0 self-powered hub in order to have more devices connected, more power distributed to connected devices and have a better data transfer rate for connected USB 3.x devices.

Get Better Power & Charging

Instead of charging from PC USB ports, try to refill the battery with the dedicated charger provided with your device as PC ports provide less output.

USB 3.0 provides more current as compared to USB 2.0: 900 mA vs 500mA, so it will produce more power to charge your devices like a smartphone.

Try to use USB 3.0 ports and cable for fast charging.

Use USB-C cables to have the advantage of USB PD (Power Delivery); it can provide up to 100 W of power. Obviously, you need to have those USB ports & chargers which support such amperes and voltage to give this output.

Use fast chargers that draw more volts and amperes to increase power output. Hence they charge devices at a much faster rate as compared to standard chargers. Examples include Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging etc.

Mass Storage Devices Productive Utilization

As Universal Serial Bus allows us to connect mass storage devices (flash drives/portable drives) and copy/delete huge quantity of data, it is very much necessary to use storage devices that support at least the USB 3.0 standard.

This way you can transfer data in much less time as compared to USB 2.0!

But remember:

It is a must to use the same standard cable (if required) & port on a PC otherwise it will drop to USB 2.0 speed. You can recognize them as mentioned in this post before.

USB OTG Usage For Maximum Benefit

The benefits of OTG have already been discussed in detail before in this post. You can read about it by clicking here.

Wireless USB Benefits

You can use WUSB to free yourself from connecting and managing wires like in the case of a wireless mouse and keyboard.

A USB receiver inserts in a USB port to connect the mouse to the PC, and it provides smooth functioning of mouse minus the cable.

The same holds true for other devices like printers, scanners, external drives.

The wireless workplace adds to the feeling that Technology has been taken advantage of.

Use DisplayPort

You can use this port to greatly enhance the display output from a laptop to a compatible monitor or a TV. Click here to read about this port earlier in this post.

Use Charging Port

Whenever you have the option of a charging port, use it for filling up the battery of your device in less time. If it is also a SS port, it is even better; as it can be used for faster data transfer along with faster charging. Read about it here.

Wrapping Up

I know you must be thinking that it’s a lot of content!

It was necessary to cover it in depth; that’s why it is an ultimate guide. It took me a lot of time to research, write, get pictures etc. I really wanted to make it interesting and provide value for the readers.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and found it useful and informative. Please engage through comments for suggestions, improvements and ask any questions if you want, I will try to help. 

Also don't forget to share with people you know on Facebook, Twitter etc. It will help to spread the knowledge!

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