USB (Universal Serial bus), how did we live with out it?
It’s probably a safe bet to say that most of the people who use USB technology have no idea what the world was like before it existed. Remember PS/2 and RS-232 connectors?It used to be a very different world when it came to how we connected devices to our computers.
Imagine having a different type of connector for each device you connect to your computer, that was reality in the early years of computers. I remember plugging in my Gravis Game Pad into the sound card, yes that’s not a typo, which had a midi/joystick port next to the 3.5mm jacks for microphone and audio out.
Fortunately for all of us, USB which was officially introduced in 1996, standardized the way we connect devices to our computers. We no longer had to worry about which device needed what port and which device would work on what type of hardware, everything became “universal”. The USB standard has undergone a few changes over it’s lifetime with each version slightly more stable and faster than the last.
Transfer speeds for USB 1.0 are 1.5 Mbit/s and 12 Mbit/s
Transfer speeds for USB 2.0 are 480 Mbit/s
Transfer speeds for USB 3.0 can be up to 5 Gbit/s
Of course there are many other changes that go along with each USB release besides just transfer speeds. Changes to USB have also included power management and simultaneous two way transfer. The USB connector is really amazing, everything from keyboards to cell phones utilize this amazing interface and USB 3.0 is even better.
Now that we know how much faster USB 3.0 is compared to 2.0 (about 10 times faster) we need to know if were even using it. It may be difficult at first to tell which technology you’re using because USB 3.0 ports are backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and therefore look identical to their 2.0 counterpart . If you haven’t bought a new computer in last year or so you probably don’t have USB 3.0.
In some cases an indication that you may have USB 3.0 will be a blue colored USB port on the computer itself, but the best way to tell is to check your hardware configuration via your preferred OS.
You can check your computers hardware on Windows machines by right clicking “My Computer”, then “Manage” and then “Device Manager”.
Locate USB and you should see “USB 3.0” somewhere in the hardware description.
Similarly, in OSX you can click the Apple logo in the top left of the finder bar, click “About this Mac”, then “More Info” and then “System Report”.
So is it worth all of the fuss? Absolutely! I have a USB 3.0 external hard drive and data transfer speeds are incredibly fast compared to 2.0 models. Any device using 3.0 should perform significantly better.