Different types of USB cables

  1. Posts : 820
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit

    Different types of USB cables

    I understand there are data cables, charging cables and combined cables. and OTG plus maybe some others. How can I tell them apart? None of mine have anything to indicate what they are, and all of them have been used for both data and charging with no ill effects as far as I know. One cable, which came with my PC for charging via the USB C socket is very thick, but thin cables have been used for charging too. One retractable cable is very thin, less than a length of thin string but also is used for charging. Flat and round cables seem to perform the same, as do cheap and expensive cables (not an unimportant discovery. Flexibility is an advantage in some situations, and resistance to fraying at connectors can be important too.

    Behind my enquiry is that fact that I have just started buying some new cables because of the magnetic, right angle / elbow, illuminating connectors they have, rather than their data v charging properties.
      My Computer

  2. Posts : 35,490
    Win 10 Pro (21H2) (2nd PC is 21H2)

    H, there's no quick and easy answer:
    Identifying your USB connector | CMD

    - and that doesn't address charging/data transfer, nor even the convention of blue for USB3 and white for USB2.

    But there are links to more at the bottom.
      My Computers

  3. Posts : 820
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit
    Thread Starter

    Thank you ----that is a very useful source of information which I will be able to refer to from time to time even though as you suggest, with a quick scan I can see it does not offer straight answers to some of my questions. My immediate concern was not to risk any damage to myself, equipment or software resulting from using an inappropriate cable. It appears this is unlikely. I noticed this "
    The cable that you use to charge a device can also affect speed. Thinner cables reduce amperage, leading to longer charging times." It is OK if the worse that may happen is a loss of speed, and not over-heating or data corruption. Or, as is the case with OTG, complete failure to work at all. The only method I have to check which of my cables / connectors / adapters are OTG is to try them on a device such as my Android phone.
      My Computer

  4. Posts : 35,490
    Win 10 Pro (21H2) (2nd PC is 21H2)

    I don't think anything can be damaged, but as you say, in some cases performance could suffer.
    Of course, using USB 3 not USB 2 cables for USB3 transfers to achieve full speed will be important as the physical cable wires are different.
    Do USB 3.0 Connections Require USB 3.0 Cables?
      My Computers

  5. Posts : 19,240
    W11+W11 Developer Insider + Linux

    Another thing to look for is the length of cables according to their use. Standard USB2 cable is good to only 5 meters, after that it looses a lot of power and data reliability. All together it's best to keep them as short as possible. Fast SATA SSD to USB3.1 for instance will start loosing speed even after 10" long USB cable. That's why they usually come with very short cables. For charging, wire gauge is most important as well as it's length. Also look for quality of connectors, gold ones are best. Power thru USB is pretty low so any contacts oxidation can impede power flow in short order.
      My Computers


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