I guess you are referring to the fat collars which are interference screening devices, one at each end local to the male and female connectors. Quite apart from USB 1, 1,1 and 2.0 graded cables which are all backward compatable and generally 'universal' there are different types of USB cable, the regular A to B being the common type for connecting most appliances though some equipment such as cameras have their own special connection at the appliance end and where this is the case the cable is invariably supplied with the equipment. Other types include 'extension cables' though it is prefferable to avoid these unless absolutely necessary.
As Maundy says, the fat bits are for screening purposes. Because the cable is connecting two separate pieces of equipment, its quite likely that there are different levels of noise on the earth of each equipment. The filter isolates them. The principle of operation is very simple and quite clever. Because the whole cable passes through the core of magnetic material if the signal current passing through the core exactly balances the return current there is no impedance to the flow. Any imbalance such as would be caused by earth differences are strongly impeded.