How To Avoid Common Problems With USB-C

At this point, it’s been well established that USB type-c is truly the wave of the future. However, making the transfer to a new industry standard won’t always be smooth sailing. As a result, it’s important that industry professionals and general consumers alike know some of the potential problems that can occur to keep their devices safe during the growing pains of the product. For example, you can see USB-C as the standard on many new PC and Android phones. In addition, if you’re an Apple devotee, just about every Apple laptop out there uses these. Here’s what you need to know to make the transfer as easy as possible.


USB-C Cable Incompatibility Issues


We might as well start with the most pressing issue as far as USB-C goes, and that’s accidentally damaging your devices. This isn’t an inherent flaw with USB-C, but in fact, the product doing its job too well. For example, if you were to plug a USB 1 cable into a USB 2 port, historically, it may not function or function poorly, but that’s the only issue. People who were willing to wait a little longer for a charge or connection could basically use whatever cable they wanted.


This isn’t the case necessarily with USB-C, especially, the cables that have the older USB-A connector on one end and the USB-C connector on the other. USB-C supports faster charging, which is a net benefit. However, if you charge a USB-A device into a USB-C port using one of these other devices, you run the risk of drawing too much power into the phone, potentially damaging your computer, cellphone battery or USB-C port.


With this said, this isn’t an issue for the bulk of USB-C cables that you’re going to buy. In fact, if you buy from a proper vendor, the cables will have resistors inside specifically designed to ensure that this doesn’t happen. However, at first glance, it may be difficult to figure out the exact difference between a properly made one and one that isn’t. The best way to avoid any risk is by making sure the vendor that you choose supplies a cable with proper technical specifications.


On the consumer end, it also pays to do a little bit of additional homework on your own as well. Make sure that the cable you buy doesn’t just fit properly, but has a good track record of reviews. This issue also applies to USB C to HDMI connections, so be sure to look into potential issues with the way you want to use the cable as well as the cable itself.


Keeping Organized With Your USB C Charger/Devices


Because we’re in a middle-state between going to USB-C from USB-A, there may be a bit of confusion and headaches when it comes to keeping headaches compatible. For example, many of the USB-C cables on the market you may see actually support USB 2.0 as opposed to USB 3.0 or 3.1 because a lot of them are used for charging. Again, it all boils down to you doing your homework as a consumer.


The potential complexity only grows when we start talking about alternative modes. These options basically use the USB-C form factor to provide more features. A great example of this is Intel and Apple’s Thunderbolt 3. This option can offer transfer speeds of 40 Gbps, four times faster than the baseline for USB 3.1. In addition, you can also support up to two 4K displays only connected to a single port. The catch here is that only a device compatible with Thunderbolt 3 can reach those speeds.


You can use some other potential alternate modes as well, like HDMI and MHL. Both of these allow certain displays for connections. Some laptops may also have DisplayPort as an option, and you can tell this if you have a D-shaped icon next to your USB-C port.


What difference does this make? A lot if you have any interest in connecting an external display to your laptop via USB-C. You need to know what alternate mode is supported by your device, then buy a display or adapter that matches it. There are guides available to help match your computer with the best display for your needs, but this isn’t very intuitive for the layman. The one silver lining in all of this is that things are going to improve as more and more manufacturers adopt USB-C as a baseline. In addition, some professionals may like the additional flexibility this offers.


Now, with this said, say that you have a device with only USB-C ports, like buying a new MacBook Pro. It’s nice to be a part of the future, but it can be difficult to make a conversion in one fell swoop. Your average tech-savvy household has generally amassed many USB cables for different devices, from phones to printers. You have a few options to handle this, from buying a whole new array of USB-C, which can be a bit expensive, or using a large number of basic adapters and holding onto your old cables. This is probably the quickest fix for your problem, but you now have a lot of different dongles to organize, which can be difficult for some.


If you want to solve this issue a bit more effectively, it may be worth it to invest in a USB-C docking station. These are great for people who tend to connect their laptops to multiple devices, trying to emulate a desktop. Suddenly, your single USB port because a means to offer various different types of connectivity, all with just one cable. It may be worth it to use this rather than having to rely on an armada of dongles to get the most out of your USB-C setup.


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