What is difference between USB 2.0, 3.0, Type-A, Type-C and others

USB (Universal Serial Bus) is a data transfer standard adopted by the entire technology industry. It came about in 1996 and today it is almost ubiquitous. But some specifications are a little hard to understand.

Whoever is going to buy a PC, cable or storage unit (a pen drive, an external HD, something like that) often comes across such specs as USB 2.0 or 3.0. It also has USB Type-C and USB Type-A. Not to mention Micro USB and Mini USB.

After all, what do all these suffixes and prefixes mean? How do I know if I am buying the product with the right connector for my cables, notebook and cell phone?

Letters and numbers

First of all, we need to understand the difference between a standard or USB generation and a USB connector format. The difference between these two is what determines the number or letter that accompanies the USB in the packaging of the product you are wanting to buy.

The USB standard is determined by the number: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and so on. The oldest one is USB 1.0, created in 1996. The most recent is USB 3.2, recently announced by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the body responsible for setting the standards for this technology.

Thus, the higher the number, the faster the transfer rate – that is, the time it takes to move a file from one place to another, such as from cell to computer, for example.

USB 1.0 was able to transfer up to 12 Megabits per second. The latest USB 3.1 can transfer up to 10 Gigabits per second. That is, 3.1 is much faster than 1.0. The higher the number, the faster the data transfer.

But what if I have a cell phone that is USB 2.0 and I want to transfer photos to a computer that is USB 3.0? Will it work? The answer is: yes, it will work, only with reduced speed. In this case, when two devices exchanging data are of different patterns, the speed used will be that of the older (slower) pattern.

For example, if you try to pass a photo from a USB 3.0 (5 Gigabits per second) cell phone to a computer that only supports USB 2.0 (480 Megabits per second), the transfer will be done using the slower rate, 2.0.

Here’s a brief guide to USB standards used over the years:

  • USB 1.0: 12 Mbps;
  • USB 1.1: 12 Mbps;
  • USB 2.0: 480 Mbps;
  • USB 3.0: 5 Gbps;
  • USB 3.1: 10 Gbps;
  • USB 3.2: 20 Gbps.

The USB format is defined by letters: Type-A, Type-B-, Type-C, Micro or Mini. These words define the design of the connector and this, yes, makes all the difference. Different formats may not talk to each other and cause incompatibility issues.

If you need help, have doubts or concerns, do not hesitate to leave a comment in the comment box below and we will try to help you as soon as possible!

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