Front and Rear USB Ports – Use Them Wisely

Just a quick one for tonight.

One thing that gets my gripe is how people use USB ports on their computer, particularly front and rear USB ports on desktop computers. When USB ports first hit the scene they were relegated to the rear of the computer along with all of the other faithful ports including COM ports, LPT ports and the VGA port. However, as time went by we saw USB ports appear on the front of computers and also in other places like keyboards and monitors. These days, desktop computers can have more USB ports than digits on your hands (for instance, my computer has four USB ports on the front and eight on the back).

So what should it matter with how USB devices are hooked up when there are plenty of ports to go around?

I guess for me, the concept of front-facing USB ports (or side ports on laptops) is that they are there for your portable and temporary USB devices such as flash drives, hard drives, card readers and maybe even wireless broadband dongles. These sorts of devices travel between various computers so it makes sense that they should be easily inserted and ejected from a computer. Also, the convenience of front-facing USB sockets mitigates against the need to play a game of Twister to try and plug them into the back of the computer. Rear-facing USB sockets are generally there for your permanent USB components such as your keyboard, mouse, headphones and any other devices that will not be disconnected and reconnected regularly.

I can’t recall the number of times I have seen people use up their front-facing USB ports with a keyboard and mouse who then reach around the back to connect a USB storage device. Keyboards and mice come with long cords so that they can be connected to the rear of the computer with enough cord to spare for movement on the desk. Better still, connecting your mouse to a USB port on your keyboard can eliminate issues with the mouse cord hanging over the desk and dragging your mouse down with it (which can be irritating for precision or fast action games).

Anyway, this is just my view on how USB ports should be used but I reckon it’s a smart approach even if there are plenty available.


    • HYG on June 12, 2011 at 11:04
    • Reply

    Ahhh but you’ve forgotten to mention something – bandwidth. It makes sense to plug portable storage all over the place sometimes…

    1. Of course, why didn’t I think of that! 😉

    • David on April 14, 2014 at 02:39
    • Reply

    While I am not very computer literate, I must admit that I thought this advice would be rubbish. Well it wasn’t and while I don’t understand why there should be a difference, it worked!

    Thank you Boyd.

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