What Is a Legacy Port?

Alex Newth

A legacy port is an older or obsolete port that is found on some modern computers and used to support older hardware connections. Most legacy port technology was dedicated to having a separate port for each piece of hardware, an idea that primarily is obsolete in 2011. If the user wants to use a port but his or her computer does not have it, then there are converters that can be plugged into a modern port so it gives the same legacy support. While some modern computers come with legacy ports, a legacy-free computer does not, and this can have both advantages and disadvantages.

A legacy port can be installed to allow a new computer to work with older hardware.
A legacy port can be installed to allow a new computer to work with older hardware.

Legacy port technology is defined as any port that is obsolete and rarely used; thus, it becomes the legacy of the newer port. Most legacy ports were deprecated by the universal serial bus (USB) port. There are several reasons for this, including better power and data transfer rates and a universal hardware connection. The legacy ports were often shaped like circles, small rectangles, big rectangles and squares, whereas a USB port is just rectangle in one standard size.

Most of the legacy port technology was made to fit one piece of hardware. For example, there was a separate and specific connecter for the keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer and other hardware pieces. While a mouse and keyboard connecter could be technically swapped, it would lead to awkward effects, and neither piece of hardware would properly function. USB technology eliminated the need for separate ports, because most general hardware can use the same port.

If a user wants to use a legacy port, either because of need or preference, then there are some computers that come with this support. Those that do not come with legacy support can have the port added directly to a USB port. This is a converter piece that attaches to the USB port at one end, and the other end has the legacy port head, allowing the user to attach a legacy wire into the port.

A good amount of computers come with legacy port technology, even if they are made after USB ports deprecated legacy support. This is just in case the user wants to use the port, but this also has some disadvantages. More of the motherboard has to be dedicated to providing legacy support, rather than using the space for better processing, and a user many not like how the extra ports look. Legacy-free computers come without legacy support, though the USB converter can still be used if needed.

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