All regular USB cables have a maximum recommended length. If manufacturers go beyond that length, they risk affecting the overall performance of the cable. So what can you do when you need to extend the length of a USB cable?
maintain usb cable performance
USB interface Initially created to offer a similar cable and connectors for computer peripherals. Peripherals were usually placed at a short distance from the computer, so the USB cable didn’t need to be very long. But the USB standard has gone far beyond its initial capabilities, and USB cables are now used to connect more than just computer peripherals.
This has led to the need for a longer USB cable. However, depending on the USB generation supported by the cable, it may only be a fixed maximum length, or it runs the risk of offering poor performance. For example, a USB 2.0 cable may be up to five meters long, while a usb 4 cable is limited to 0.8 m.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can increase the length of a USB cable without losing signal strength.
usb cable extender
USB cable extenders are one of the most common ways to extend the length of a USB cable. They feature one male and one female port, thus allowing you to easily connect your existing cables. There are four types of USB extenders on the market: passive, active and optical.
Passive USB extenders have regular copper wires and no electronic circuits to boost the signal. Therefore, it is not very useful to extend the cable length beyond the recommended maximum limit. You can use them to extend just a short USB cable; Take care that the total length of the cable and extension does not exceed the maximum limit for usb generation,
Active USB extenders, on the other hand, contain electronic circuits to amplify the data signal. As a result, they can significantly increase the total length of a USB cable. But the length of an active extender depends on its USB generation. In addition, some active USB extenders can be daisy-chained to further increase their length. Nevertheless, the range of the daisy chain depends on the particular extenders and the USB generation it supports.
Unlike passive and active USB extenders, optical extenders contain fiber optic cables that use light to carry data signals from one device to another. Light is much faster than power on moving data and less likely to damage the signal, so optical extenders are very handy when you need to extend the length of a USB cable to several meters. But unfortunately, optical extenders are relatively expensive.
USB Over Ethernet Extender
ethernet Cables are great for high-speed data transmission over long distances, so you can use them to extend your USB cable. you will need one usb over ethernet extender, but this will allow you to increase the length of the cable up to 100 meters. There are single port and multi-port USB over Ethernet extenders. While single port extenders typically do not require external power, you will need a power adapter to use a multi-port USB over Ethernet extender.
Any USB over Ethernet extender has two parts—one with a male USB port and the other with a female port. One part converts the USB signal to Ethernet, and the other converts it back to a USB signal. All you have to do is plug an Ethernet cable between the two parts, and you’re done. Data transfer speed will depend on the extender and ethernet cable range,
powered usb hub
you can also use powered usb hub To increase the length of your USB connection. Like active USB extenders, powered hubs boost the data signal, allowing the signal to travel longer distances. Additionally, you can daisy USB hubs to get an even longer connection. That said, the cables connecting the hub to the computer or the two hubs cannot be longer than the maximum practical length of that cable. On top of that, the USB specification only supports daisy-chaining up to five USB hubs.
related: Best USB Hub for PC and Mac
Active and Optical USB Cables
You have two options if you don’t want to extend your existing USB cable and instead want to buy a newer—but longer than standard length—cable. You can opt for either an active or optical USB cable.
Active USB cables, similar to active USB extenders, incorporate one or more electronic circuits to boost their performance. As a result, they can be significantly longer than passive cables.
While active USB 2.0 cables can go up to 20 meters, USB 3.2 Gen 1 cables are typically limited to 7.5 meters. USB 3.2 Gen 2 Active cables are even shorter and stand at three meters in height. Additionally, some active cables may operate on power provided by the USB port, others may require an external power supply.
cable counts active usb c cable
Cable Matters Active USB C Cable is available in two sizes of three and five metres. Additionally, it supports USB 3.2 Gen 1 speeds and is great for connecting 4K monitors.
But, if you need to go beyond the length of an active USB 3.2 Gen 1 or USB 3.2 Gen 2 cable, your best bet is an optical cable. Unfortunately, optical cables are relatively expensive.
Optical USB cables use light to transfer data, as do optical USB extenders. As a result, they can be significantly longer than copper cables. As of writing in June 2022, you will find mostly USB 3.2 Gen 1 and Gen 2 optical cables in the market. However, USB 4 optical cables are starting to appear. A Taiwanese company BKSTEC has claimed to launch first fiber optic usb 4 cable in March 2022.
Long story short, you have options
Overall, while standard copper USB cables can be limited in length depending on their generation, you still have several ways to increase the length of your USB cable. You can opt for either a USB extender or a powered USB hub. But if you want the simplicity of a longer cable, both active and optical USB cables are good choices. Just make sure you are buying cables or extenders from reputable brands.