Read on to find out how to recognize a USB extension, choose the right one for your purposes, and avoid getting a cable that won’t work with your device. We work hard to provide you with everything you need to know about choosing a USB extension cable for every need without getting burned by a data cable that won’t work.
What Are USB Extension Data Cables?
A USB extension cable is any cable designed to help you reach the USB plugs on your computer from another location. An extension that will work for you should have a male plug on one end to plug directly into your computer, like any other USB peripheral, and a female plug on the other end that works like the ports on your computer to allow you to plug in another device. USB cables for extension come in many lengths, so finding one to suit your specific needs should not be difficult.
When comparing a USB extension to a standard USB data cable, the most obvious difference is one end of the cable. A standard cable has two male connectors with slightly different internal configurations, one on each end. These are the connectors with the metal casing and the line of white plastic inside that you use to attach your peripherals to your computer. For some cables, the end that attaches to your device may look different. Printer USB cables have a square end, and small devices like cell phones and cameras usually come with a connector that is about a quarter of the size of a full-sized USB cable.
A USB extension cable is designed with one end that will look like a USB port without the device around it and another end that will look like what you can plug into your computer. If you take an extension cable and attach one end to the other, they will fit perfectly and form a circle. If you are wondering if any of the cables you have are extensions, seeing if the ends will fit together is a reliable way to check.
Types Of USB Extensions
The primary difference in USB extension cabling is simply the length of the cord. Length is usually listed in feet or meters. USB cables cannot stretch indefinitely without losing the timing of the signal that they need to work with your peripheral. The maximum length a USB cable can reach without failing to work is about 16 feet, further if you plug a USB hub into one end of the cable and string multiples with that. Therefore, a good USB extension cable should be listed as 5 meters or 16 feet or less for optimum performance.
Some USB extending options come with multiple outputs that will function as a standard USB hub. These cables may not be traditional extensions, but they can be a great way to allow a user to plug in multiple items a few feet away from their desktop without taking up multiple USB slots. To find a cable of this type, look for something called a USB extension hub. Sometimes, a similar effect can be achieved by simply attaching a standard USB hub to a standard extension cable, frequently for less money.