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Use a USB Patch Cord

Lots of us use flash drives and we are often sticking them in and removing them. Manufacturers have made this easier for us by providing easily accessible front of case USB connections. The problem is that these connectors aren't really very robustly made. When we lean over and shove our usb drive in, we often stick it in at an angle or upside down. I often shove it two or three times incorrectly before getting it at the right angle so it properly slides in. The result is damage to the computer's connector or the drive itself. Drives are easily replaced, but the computer's connector, though easily damaged, is not easily replaced.

Fortunately these problems can be resolved inexpensively with a USB extension cable. What you want is an A A Male ⁄ Female USB extension cord. The A A refers to the type of USB connector on each end. Your flash drive is a type A Male while the port on the computer is a type A female, so your extension cable must be Type A to Type A Male ⁄ Female. They are easy enough to get online, from me, or if you want to pay a little extra from a local store. You are safest getting either the 1' or 3' extension cords. Cords longer than 10' require the signal to be regenerated and are either unreliable or much more expensive. I am nervous about any passive USB cable over 6 feet. You can get longer active cables if necessary. Since all you are trying to do is move the port to a more convenient location, a 1, 3 or 6 foot passive cables should be fine.

It is less likely that you will damage the connector, because it is in a more convenient place for accurate insertion. If you do damage it, you only need to replace the $5 extension cable. You can get them from Amazon or from Cyberguys or whatever office supply store you use. I always have a bunch on hand if you want to pick one up from me or have me bring one when I come for consulting.

Do not use an extension cable with USB powered hard drives. They need the short cord or they will not get enough power from the USB port.

Date: June 2007

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