What Are PS/2 Ports and Connectors?

PS/2 is a now-defunct, standard type of connection used to connect keyboards, mice, and other input devices to a computer.

Generally, it refers to the types of cables (PS/2 cable), ports (PS/2 port), and other connectors used with these types of keyboards and mice.

These ports are round and consist of 6 pins. In most cases, purple PS/2 ports are intended to be used by keyboards, while green ones are to be used by mice.

This connection type was first introduced in 1987 with the IBM Personal System/2 series of personal computers. The standard has been completely replaced by the much faster, and more flexible, USB standard in consumer machines. PS/2 was officially declared as a legacy port in the year 2000, paving the way for USB's complete takeover.

PS2 is also short for Sony's PlayStation 2, but the cables, ports, and other related hardware of the gaming console are unrelated to the PS/2 connection type.

Is There Any Use for PS/2 Anymore?

For the most part, no, PS/2 really is gone. There aren't piles of PS/2 devices sitting around with nowhere to go. Computers and their peripherals migrated to USB at roughly the same time.

There was a time during the transition, however, when you might have bought a new computer that only had USB ports, but you wanted to use your trusty, PS/2-based keyboard and mouse. In those situations, a PS/2-to-USB converter might come in handy (more on that below) and might be a reason you'll still find the occasional PS/2 device at home.

PS/2 does tend to work better than USB in a "switching" environment, where one keyboard, mouse, and monitor operates a number of different computers. This sort of setup is common in data centers, albeit older ones.

Remote access software is now more commonly used in the business and enterprise environments, allowing anyone with access to connect to an unlimited number of other computers remotely, negating the need for PS/2 switching devices altogether.

However, PS/2 might be preferred in some situations where security is critically important. If the computer runs on this older standard only, then all USB connection types can be disabled to prevent removable devices from transferring viruses to the computer or copying files off of it.

Another use for PS/2 is if entering the BIOS setup utility proves difficult with a USB device. Problems with USB drivers could prevent the keyboard from interacting with the utility, something that PS/2 usually doesn't have an issue with.

PS/2 might also be used if there's a limited number of USB ports. PS/2 can be used for the keyboard and mouse to free up USB ports for other devices like external hard drives.

Do PS/2 to USB Converters Work?

Monoprice PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse to USB Converter Adapter
Monoprice / Amazon

PS/2-to-USB converters provide a way to connect older PS/2-based devices to a computer that only supports USB. They are a great option if you have newer input devices that use USB, but you're not quite ready to upgrade your entire computer. Just plug a converter in between the keyboard/mouse and the USB port.

Unfortunately, these converter cables are notoriously buggy and often only support certain types of PS/2 keyboards and mice. This is less of a problem as time goes on and these lesser products are removed from the market, but it's something to keep in mind as you shop.

Like all computer hardware, if you're in the market for this kind of converter, do some research and read product reviews—Amazon lists plenty of PS/2-to-USB converters. No doubt a highly rated converter will do the job.

What Do You Do When a PS/2 Keyboard or Mouse Locks Up?

There are lots of reasons why a computer might lock up, sometimes called freezing, but when you know it's just the keyboard or mouse, and they're PS/2-based devices, the solution is usually pretty simple.

Typically, this happens when the mouse or keyboard comes loose just enough to lose connection with your computer. Unfortunately, just pushing the port into the receptacle again isn't enough.

Unlike the newer USB standard, PS/2 is not hot-swappable, meaning you cannot unplug and plug-back-in a PS/2 device and expect it to work. Your computer must be restarted once a firm connection is reestablished.

Add this to the long list of reasons why USB is an improvement on PS/2.

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