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What are the Different Types of USB Connectors?

By Katharine Swan
Updated May 16, 2024
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Most computer users are familiar with Universal Serial Bus (USB), which has become the most commonly used way to connect peripheral devices to a computer. Your mouse, printer, digital camera, scanner, and other devices probably all connect to your computer via a USB port. Many memory storage devices, such as portable hard drives, flash drives, and memory card readers, also connect to a computer via USB.

USB connectors make it possible to connect a device to your computer using USB. A long cable is used to connect the device to your computer. Usually, the connectors on each end of the cable are quite different, making it necessary to know which of them goes to your computer and which gets plugged into the device.

Most USB cables have two types of connectors, one on each end. A type A connector is on the end that plugs into your computer. These are wide and flat, with a plastic piece inside that prevents the user from plugging them in upside down. Most users are familiar with the type A USB ports on their computers, as virtually every peripheral device on the market these days uses them. For instance, printers, scanners, and digital cameras all connect to computers via a USB cable. USB drives, which are small, mobile data storage devices, usually have type A connectors on one end, which plug directly into the USB ports on a computer.

The other of the most common types of these connectors is a little more square in shape, although there is a notch taken out of two of the corners to make sure that the user inserts it correctly. This is known as a type B USB connector, and usually plugs into the peripheral device. For instance, most printers and scanners have ports for type B connectors.

Other types of USB connectors are becoming increasingly more common. Most newer cell phones and digital cameras use a type a Mini-B connector, which is shaped like a type B connector, except smaller. These are especially useful for small devices that do not have the space for a full-size USB port. In fact, many cell phones, digital cameras, and PDAs come with a USB cable that has a type A connector on one end, and a Mini-B connector on the other end.

There are also Mini-A connectors. These are usually used for On-The-Go (OTG) devices that need to connect to one another, rather than to a computer. Like the Mini-B USB connectors, Mini-A was developed because the devices were too small to offer a full-size type A port.

Ports for USB connectors are now found on almost any kind of computer device. Because it has become such a common way to connect peripherals to a computer, USB ports are often located in more convenient places than they used to be. While desktop computers still have USB ports on the back side of the tower, where it is difficult to access them, they now also have them on the front of the tower, usually underneath the disk drives. Laptops usually have two or three USB ports on the right side of the laptop, where a mouse would need to be connected, while some laptops have one or two USB ports on each side to make them easier to access.

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Discussion Comments
By anon993056 — On Oct 20, 2015

A diagram with pictures of the plugs clearly labeled would be of much assistance. This is confusing.

By anon82791 — On May 07, 2010

one of the good articles on USB.

By lakehouse — On Dec 10, 2008

I'm 'bus' or what features are necessary. Looks like I should get a 2.0. Are there advantages to getting it powered by AC.

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