The USB connector is found on virtually every PC sold in the world today and is compatible with just about every device out there. Mice, keyboards, hard disks, printers and just about anything else you can plug into a computer uses the USB connection.

USB 3.0 is the latest incarnation of this versatile connector and its main advantage over USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 is speed. USB 3.0 connections are much, much faster than previous versions. To put it in to perspective USB 2 could transfer 480Mbits a second whereas USB 3 is capable of 5Gbits a second, that’s about ten times faster.

Happily though, USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with both previous USB connections, you can still hook up that older printer using the same cable, you won’t get any speed increases, but it saves you from having to buy a raft of new add-ons for your PC. There are other more technical improvements to the USB system too, making it more reliable and just more versatile overall.

To make the most of the speed increases you’ll have to make sure that the laptop and peripheral you want to connect are USB 3 compatible. A USB 3.0 cable simply hooks them up and within seconds the two devices will be talking to each other.

The extra performance from USB 3.0 will be found on things like hard disks where copying data across will be much quicker. Transferring pictures from a digital camera will be quite noticeably faster too as will moving files to and from USB memory sticks. If you have a smartphone you’ll be able to charge it and sync it more quickly with the new connector. Printers, mice and keyboards won’t really go faster than is currently possible, but there will be new USB 3 compatible versions available.

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