Why are my USB Ports Different Colors?

    ConfusedHave you ever gotten a new computer and noticed that your USB ports are all sorts of different colors? What do these colors mean and what should you plug into them? We’ll hopefully help you answer this question.

    First off, there is no industry standard when it comes to colored USB ports. So you should always read the manual or specification sheet for your hardware to make sure you know what things are capable of. You can also look at the area around the port to see if there any symbols that might indicate what the ports capabilities are (you’ll see those more on USB-C and Thunderbolt ports, as per our previous article). But if you see a colored USB ports, here are some general guidelines as to what they might mean, pulled from a few sources, as to what it might mean (again, see the above disclaimer).

    • White: Legacy USB 1.x connection.
    • Black: USB 2.0 High-Speed Connection.
    • Blue: USB 3.0 Super Speed Connection.
    • Teal: USB 3.1 Gen 1 Connection
    • Red: USB 3.1 Gen 2 or USB 3.2 connection. Red ports are typically “always on” so they can be used for charging a USB device even when the parent device is off. Or it can also indicate just a regular USB port.
    • Yellow: USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 connection. Similar to the Red ports, this is another “always on” port, so it can be used for charging. Yellow ports are typically found on laptops while red ports will be found on desktops.
    • Orange: USB 3.0 connection. Similar to the Red and Yellow ports, this is typically another “always on” port, so it can be used for charging. Some sources say this is a charge only port, so it won’t actually be able to transfer data, but some say this is sometimes a “high-retention” port used in industrial settings where you don’t want the cable to come unplugged from the port.
    • Green: This is usually a Qualcomm Quick Charge port, which is a proprietary charging standard that isn’t part of the USB spec.
    • Purple: This is usually a Huawei SuperCharge port, but can also just be a regular USB 3.1 port. Like all the weird proprietary ones, read the system specifications to see what the port’s capabilities are).

    For more details, Eaton has a great article on the various types of USB cables, connections, port colors, and specifications. It gets a bit nerdy, but it’s worth a read if you’re wondering how this all works. (Full disclosure, we’re an Eaton/Tripp-lite reseller, so anything you see there that you want, let us know).

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