Upgrading USB for more speed, more ports (connections)...
Ready for Super Speed?
Upgrading USB Considerations - Not much these devices are fairly new. Most of the devices you
purchase today are of the 2.0 version with a more USB 3.0 devices coming to the
If your computer is five or more years old then you may have version a 1.1
controller. You will know if you have version 1.1 when you connect a 3.0 device
because you will get this error from the device manager:
"This device can perform faster if you connect it to a Super-Speed
If this is the case you can purchase an add on card to upgrade to
If you have version 2.0 and need more ports, a
usb hub would be easier and
cheaper, another reason for using a usb hub is if you purchase a powered hub
some devices operate better. I have a couple of external usb hard drives (small portable
20 and 40 gig drives from laptops) sometimes the computer will not recognize the
device, connect to a powered hub, no problems.
Upgrading to USB 3.0
Since this article was written USB specification 3.0 has passed the ISO
community and is now in Research and Development (R&D) by many companies. Spec
3.0 will have a higher connect speed in the realm of 5 MBPS (Million Bits Per
Second) where as Spec 2.0 is 400 MBPS. Also an increase in voltage supplied to
the USB device from 1.5 volts to 5.0 volts. Both of these increases will allow
for faster devices and more devices that can do more. The release of the first
USB 3.0 devices are slowly trickling on to the sales market. And any new device
will be expensive for the for seeable future.
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You can use an add on card for USB 3.0 in a desktop or a laptop at this time
the USB 3.0 devices are hard drives, SSD, and DVD/Blue Ray drives. More will
become available as motherboard manufactures embed the USB 3.0 on motherboards.
Demand will drive supply as they say.
Update 11/01/2013 - With this specification still in limbo various manufactures are trying to
nail it down. Some manufacturers are using two cables for the USB 3.0,
one for the data and one for the power. Other manufactures are using one
cable for both. I have two external drives that one has two cables and the
other has only one. Also the add on cards I bought for upgrading two of my tower
computers (a workstation and a server) the two cable device the power cable can
only be used on one port, if I connect the power cable to the wrong port the
device will NOT power up.
Update 02/16/14 - I am amazed at what the manufactures of USB 3.0 devices are doing. They have
not come to a consensus on the USB 3.0 specification for the power, you have two
- Two cables, one for data transfer and one for power. (You need two
- One cable for both data transfer and power.
It is madding that the major corroborations can not agree one way or the
Update 03/03/20 - After six years (well four) the USB power cable has
been resolved! One cable does both connection and power! How nice.
If you look at the first update I did on this topic Vista was the primary
Microsoft Operating System, Windows 7 was not even at beta test stage, yet in
2016 while Windows 7 was the primary Operating System for most people because
Windows XP was coming to the end of it's support life by Microsoft Windows 7
still did NOT have built in support for USB devices. That is if you put
your OS on a USB drive (with a program such as WintoFlash) it would not boot,
you have to either do a mod to the OS (called slipstream) and add the drivers or
figure out how to use a CD/DVD drive to install the OS. If you have a USB mouse
and keyboard you will not be able to use them UNTIL you figure out a way to add
the USB drivers to the OS!
Upgrading USB cards Observe ESD!