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How to Extend your USB Port

USB cables usually aren't that long, find out how to get a little more reach



USB cables were designed to provide fast, secure data transfer between all sorts of different devices, and they do it very well. We use USB cables for all sorts of things, from keyboards, to cameras, to hard drives. The only problem is most USB cables are fairly short. That’s because standard USB connections tend to lose their effectiveness the longer the distance between each device. But there are a few different things you can do to get more length out of your USB cables.


Passive USB Extension Cables

The cheapest solution would be to run out and buy a standard extension cable. These work pretty much how you would expect it to. An extension cable has a female and a male end and you simply plug it onto the end of the cable you want to extend and, bam, you’re done.

You need to be careful with this option though, USB standards dictate that a passive USB cable can only reliably transfer data up to around 16 feet. Beyond that you are going to need something more.

Active USB Extension Cables


Active USB extension cables use one of a few options to make sure that you have a reliable signal transmission over long distances.  Simple repeater cables used to be common, but better solutions now include balun extenders that use Cat5/6 cables or fiber optic extension cables.

USB over Cat5

One option would be to get a USB over Cat5 extender. These devices use Cat5e or Cat6 cable to extend your USB devices to distances of around 50 to 60 meters (around 150 to 200 feet). What makes these devices especially nice is that most modern homes already have Cat5e or Cat6 cable running to almost every room.

USB over Cat5 Connection Diagram

What USB over Cat5 should I get?

There are a lot of different USB over Cat5 extenders out there, with a large range of different price tags. Early Cat5 extenders only worked over USB 1.1 speeds, which is sufficient for a keyboard and mouse or maybe a printer. but falls far short of the speed demands necessary for fast file transfers, cameras, display adapters and other high bandwidth applications.


Our U-Link UL10 is a USB 2.0 extender supporting up to 480 Mbps.  It works up to 200ft over Cat6 cable and has a built-in 4 port USB hub allowing you to connect multiple devices.  


USB over Fiber

To support USB 3.0 speeds over long distances, the best option is to use fiber.  Our Light-Link USB cables use active optical cables to ensure USB Super Speed transmissions over long distances.

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