Computer Ports: All You Need to Know
Plugs in: Printers, keyboards, iPods, speakers, and oddball computer add-ons, like fans, beverage warmers, and desk lights.
Worth knowing: USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. (Don’t ask!) Computers usually come with at least two of these ports, but if you need more, consider a USB hub, which can contain seven. Keep in mind that a hub may slow down individual devices, because the USB transmitting power is shared between them all.
Firewire 400 Port
Plugs in: External hard drives, video cameras, and older iPods with a plug that matches this port.
Worth knowing: The “400” refers to the maximum speed at which the port can transfer data (400 megabits per second). The port is sometimes labeled IEEE 1394. Because of the fast speed, it’s perfect for large transfers, like video.
Firewire 800 Port
Plugs in: Newer external hard drives, video cameras, and older iPods with a plug that matches this port.
Worth knowing: This is the newer and faster version of the common Firewire 400 and therefore takes a different plug. If you have more 400-compatible devices than 800 ones, you can buy a cable that converts an 800 port to a Firewire 400.
Plugs in: A home Internet connection or, at the office, a printer that connects to a network.
Worth knowing: The slightly thicker-than-normal phone cord gives you access to a cable or DSL modem. At work, the Ethernet cord connects a computer to a network’s servers and printers.