How to fix the most typical USB-C problems?

By Eunice Samson | July 25, 2018 |

greater than 5 minutes

USB-C is quickly becoming the standard for transferring data and charging. It is not uncommon to find newly released phones, laptops, and tablets with this feature. Soon, it will be adapted to most types of devices that currently use the larger USB connector.

What is USB-C and Why You’ll Want it

USB-C is currently shaping up to be a suitable replacement not only for older USB versions but also for other connectivity standards like DisplayPort and Thunderbolt. Developed and certified by the USB Implementers Forum, USB-C is now being tested as a USB audio standard, potentially taking over the 3.5 mm audio jack in the future. It is recognized for faster speeds and improved power delivery.

Most users are familiar with the USB-A and USB-B connection types. Despite moving from USB 1 to new USB 3 devices, the connector has stayed as massive as ever. However, as devices became thinner and smaller, those big USB ports just did not fit in. This is also the reason why other USB types like ‘micro’ and ‘mini’ connectors were developed.

So, what is USB-c and why you’ll want it? Well, here’s the answer. It is about a third of the size of a USB-A connector, and it is a standard that can be used on every device. What’s more, it has USB-C connectors at both ends. This means that you can use this for your smartphone, laptop, and tablet. What’s more, it does not have an up or down orientation. So, you wouldn’t have to think which end to plug. And you wouldn’t have to flip it to insert it correctly.

USB-C connectors are undeniably the future. However, before we get to a place where this connection type is on every device, it is only natural for us to encounter a few bumps along the way. Laptops from Apple use USB-C exclusively while most Android phones have it. On the other hand, not every USB-C port is the same. Moreover, not every USB-C cable you buy functions the same way. So, it wouldn’t hurt if you learn how to fix USB-C issues. In this article, we are going to discuss some things you have to watch out for when using USB-C connectors. We will also share some guidelines that will help you fix and avoid these problems.

Here are the topics we’ll discuss in this article:

  • How the wrong cable can fry your device
  • Not all USB-C ports are the same
  • The challenges of transitioning to USB-C technology

Using the Wrong Cable Can Damage your Device

If you’re planning to use USB-C connectors, you should be careful with the cables you’re going to buy. Cables from previous generations of USB were simpler in design. In most cases, you can use a USB 1 cable in a USB 2 port, and it would serve its purpose without causing problems. This is also the reason why most people do not give too much thought on which cables to buy. However, you should be more careful with USB-C cables.

We recommend avoiding cables with a USB-A connector on one end and a USB-C connector on the other. It is worth noting that devices and cables with USB-C connectors support faster charging. So, if you plug a phone with a USB-A connection type to a USB-C port using the cable mentioned above, your phone might draw too much power. Consequently, you might damage your phone, the USB-C port, or even your computer.

You should opt for cables that come with your device’s original packaging. After all, properly-made cables have resistors inline that prevent such kind of issue from happening. It is also quite challenging to figure out which cables are efficient and which are not unless you found a trusted vendor providing reliable technical specifications.

Not all USB-C Ports are the Same

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Things were relatively simple with USB-A ports. You can basically plug in any type of USB, and it would work. However, that is not the case with USB-C. Cables and adapters may or may not work, depending on your device’ features. Most cables you can find on the market support USB 2.0 instead of USB 3.0 or 3.1.

Keep in mind that USB 2.0 cables are designed for charging. They might work for transferring data, but expect them to be extremely slow. The technology became a bit complex when some companies used USB-C to introduce new features. Let’s take Thunderbolt 3 as an example. When Intel and Apple collaborated with this product, they designed the tech to have transfer speeds of up to 40 GBPS. That’s four times faster than the USB 3.1 standard. Moreover, even when two 4k displays are connected to a single port, Thunderbolt 3 can still support them. However, devices designed to be compatible with Thunderbolt 3 are the only ones that can achieve those speeds. Moreover, you should have cables that are also compatible with Thunderbolt 3.

It is worth noting that the USB-C connection type has three Alternate Modes:

  • HDMI
  • DisplayPort
  • MHL

So, if you’re getting limited display connection issues, it would be advisable to check if your cable, computer, or external display support any of the Alternate Modes. Make sure that your cable or PC support the same USB-C features as the device you’re trying to connect.

The Transition to USB-C can be Challenging

It can be frustrating to switch to a device that solely features USB-C ports. Over the years, users have collected USB cables for their phones, hard drives, printers, e-readers, and other devices. This means that when you switch to USB-C-only devices, those cables no longer plug directly into your laptop.

Here are the two possible workarounds:

  1. Replacing all your cables with USB-C ones
  2. Purchasing appropriate adapters for your old cables

The first option will allow you to organize your cables, but you are potentially replacing several cables. The second option involves keeping track of multiple dongles. However, it gets the job done efficiently and quickly.

It gets more complicated when we’re talking about dongles for items like displays and Ethernet connection. As we’ve mentioned, the display protocols are not consistent in every USB-C port. So, it is essential for you to buy one that works with your device. We won’t deny that finding a compatible dongle can be tedious. For instance, if you carry your laptop around and connect to different types of projectors and displays, you’d have to deal with more dongles.

You can try searching for USB-C docking stations that will allow you to connect your laptop to multiple devices, including displays, keyboards, and mice, among others. That one USB-C port can provide you with all kinds of connectivity, and all you’d need is one compatible cable.

Pro Tip:

Whether you’re connecting a USB-A, USB-B, or USB-C device to your computer, it is important that you keep your PC secure. To protect your device from viruses and threats, we recommend installing Auslogics Anti-Malware. This reliable tool can detect attacks that your main anti-virus might miss. So, whatever USB connection type you plug into your laptop, you can ensure that it will have the protection it needs.

What are the challenges you’ve encountered with a USB-C connector?

Let us know in the comments below.

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