USB vs. FireWire

Standard in most any computer, the USB connects most any low to medium speed peripherals that carry light data loads; such as mice, keyboards, and microphones. USB is an industry standard that is ideal for connecting peripherals to a host machine in order to support plug-and-play applications. The USB port allows for higher bandwidth, data transfer up to 12 Mbps, and can support up to 127 devices at once when utilizing a USB hub. Because the only varying factor in a USB cable are the connector heads, this cable is very versatile and is almost impossible to mistakenly install — surprisingly valuable in the average office.

While USB is widespread and versatile, FireWire is much faster. Though similar, this standard is not compatible with USB. FireWire is typically deployed in digital audio/visual connections – such as in photo or videography jobs. Data is capable of being passed from one device to the next without requiring passage through a computer. More advanced than USB technologies, FireWire has emerged in today’s market as a more ideal solution for high bandwidth peripherals.

FireWire is typically deployed on all Apple computers and similar high-end devices. Enabling point-to-point transfer, along with respected speeds, FireWire is the technology of choice for content creators and users that require high-bandwidth. However, don’t simply purchase based on assumptions regarding speed. The USB 2.0 now offers interface speeds of up to 480 Mbps, which is faster than most FireWire interfaces which are limited to around 393Mbps speed available.

Because peripherals under both standards can be unplugged without having to restart your machine, both standards are considered “hot-swappable” – making them ideal for office applications. The ideal deployment of USB and FireWire technology lie in their respective strengths. Because USB is more widespread and adaptable, this standard dominates the market when connecting peripheral devices, but if you require high-bandwidth or are dealing with images -firewire is your best bet.

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