Frequently Asked Questions About Standard Type A Male-to-Male USB Cables

Type A male-to-male universal serial bus (USB) cables are designed to connect a wide range of equipment to a computer, hard drive, flash storage, or other medium. Ports for these cables can be found on the exterior of PC cases, laptops, and netbook computers. They’re capable of supplying electricity to devices that need it, so their batteries can be recharged from a USB port without the need for additional electrical cables.

What can these cables be used for?

USB cables with type A male connectors can be used to create networks of electronic equipment. By linking several USB devices together with one or more data hubs, an ad-hoc network can be connected to a computer that's running Windows, OS X, Linux, or other Unix-like operating systems. Files can be transferred to any location in the network by dragging and dropping them into a directory in a file browser.

What are the specifications of these cables?

Type A male USB cables are capable of transferring data at up to 2.5 gigabits per second (Gbps). They supply electricity at up to 20 volts and 5 amps for hardware that requires electricity to function or recharge. A single cable can reach up to 16.4 feet. With active repeaters, the signal can be sent across a longer distance. The male connectors allow you to plug items with type A female ports into a PC with the same port type.

What are USB A cables?

The Type A port is found on many PCs and laptops. It has a large rectangular shape that fits all standard USB devices. Many printers and memory cards have Type A connectors. Male USB plugs must face the correct direction when inserted into a port so that the small, embedded metal plates can come into contact with the receptacles in the female USB slot.

What types of equipment can be connected with these cables?

A wide range of electronic hardware and storage media can be connected to a computer via USB A. Whether or not a connected item requires power, the USB cable is capable of transferring data without latency or lag. When hardware is connected to a PC via USB A, it becomes responsive as soon as the computer is powered on. Operating systems often automatically mount storage media that are plugged in when the computer starts up. Some items that have USB Type A connectors include:

  • External drives
  • Drawing tablets
  • Camcorders
  • Modems
Do these cables support plug and play or hot swapping?

The USB interface supports plug-and-play connectivity as well as the hot-swapping of media. Plug-and-play drives are detected automatically by the operating system when they’re connected. Hot-swappable drives can be connected to a PC while it's powered on. Most storage media need to be unmounted before being disconnected from the computer. Devices that support media transfer protocol don't need to be manually mounted or unmounted.