USB (Universal Serial Bus) is the computer industry's standard for connecting devices. It was developed in the mid 90's. The first version of was USB 1.0, which was quickly upgraded to usb 1.1, this had data transfer speeds of 12 Mega bits per second. However this was too slow for some devices and a faster version V2.0 was released in 2000. This much faster version 2.0 offered speeds of 480 Mbps. In 2010 the first devices began to be launched with the new version 3.0 known as super speed. This as the name suggest boasts super fast speeds of which can reach 5 Giga bits per second.
The maximum length a USB cable can be used depends on the version. The older versions up to version 2.0 can only be used up to 5 meters long. Version 3.0 can't exceed 3 meters. The limit in length is down to the loss of signal as the information passes over the cable. You can get around this by using amplified repeater cables. These have built in amplifiers that re build the signal and give it more power to pass along the cable. Repeaters are available in lengths up to 30 meters. Some of the longer repeater cables also have the ability to add extra power using a mains power adaptor.
USB A is by far the most common plug as it is used on computers to attach a device. USB B is probably the second most common type, it's used on printers, scanners and hard drives. Mini B and micro B are the next most commonly used connectors. Mini and Micro cables are often used on portable devices such as camera's, mp3 players and portable hard drives where the small size is useful for keeping the device compact. Many manufacturers develop their own type of mini connector when they design new devices. Indeed many of the camera manufacturers have their own version of Mini USB. This can prove quite tricky when it comes to replacing a lost or damaged lead.
You don't need to spend a small fortune buying your device manufacturers own brand cable if you need a replacement. There are many independent manufacturers making replacement device cables. A great way of saving money is by purchasing online. There are many websites specializing in computer peripherals such as cables and power supplies. Expect to pay around A�3 or $5.