USB - Universal Serial Bus

USB flash drive about to connect to laptop
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USB is a high-performance serial bus communication technology. Most new computers and associated peripheral devices like printers and scanners contain built-in support for this technology. USB hubs for file and printer sharing also exist. USB and FireWire are the most popular, competing standards for networking computer peripherals.

Multiple versions of USB have been developed by the computer industry:

  • USB 1.0 and 1.1: the first commercial versions supported a maximum data rate of 12 Mbps
  • USB 2.0: the current version supports a much faster theoretical maximum rate of 480 Mbps
  • USB 3.0: the future standard is expected to support up to 4.8 Gbps

Using USB for Local Networking

To build a USB network, simply connect USB cables to the USB ports on those devices. USB is plug and play compatible, meaning the operating system USB driver software automatically detects and configures device connections. One USB network supports up to 127 devices.

USB interfaces are backward compatible; for example, a USB 2.0 and a USB 1.1 can be networked. When two ends of a connection support different versions of USB, the link automatically runs at the lower speed of the older version.

USB Keys

As an alternative to using USB technology for local area networking, USB keys can be used to transfer files between two devices without requiring cables.

To use a USB key (also known as a memory stick), copy files from one computer onto the key, then physically carry the stick to a different computer and copy the files onto that device.

All popular home or small office printers support USB connections to a computer. This same connection can optionally support a USB hub and linking more than just one or two devices.