The USB Paradox: Why Do USB Connections Need Three Tries?

learninmypc

Posts: 9,357   +696
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It’s happened to everyone: You try to plug in a USB connector, and it doesn’t work. So you flip it, and it still doesn’t work. Frustrated, you flip it a third time—and it fits! Why is this experience so common with USB?


Decades of Flipping USB Cables Around
We’re talking about the classic USB hardware here—specifically, the “type-A” connector that dates back to USB’s first release in 1996.
 
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DelJo63

HUH?? The USB side is polarized and fits "only one way". Never seen or heard of this on ANY device; sigh!
 

terzaerian

Posts: 787   +1,117
I have a theory on this.

So back in the 90s, PCs used to be horizontal:


And the IO was oriented top-down. USB was initially designed around this time, so a top-down connector was oriented with the design of PC IO.

However, PCs then changed to tower configurations, but rear IO did not rotate accordingly:


Basically, the whole situation could have been avoided if MB manufacturers had just factored in the design shift in cases into rear IO.

I came to this conclusion after I installed a USB card that oriented the ports top-down and never had an issue plugging in connectors to the card, because those ports were oriented top-down with the case while the motherboard connections were rotated.
 
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HardReset

Posts: 1,074   +662
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DelJo63

WAS I?? I meant what I said -- it is polarize on the HOST size of the connection. If you wish to argue, fine but please don't put words in my mouth -- I've never done that to you! HUMBUG
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,839   +2,151
Staff member
WAS I?? I meant what I said -- it is polarize on the HOST size of the connection. If you wish to argue, fine but please don't put words in my mouth -- I've never done that to you! HUMBUG
Now I can't tell whether you're being sarcastic or not, and whether this then applies to your first post. The article isn't claiming that the host connector wasn't polarised - it clearly points this out, even showing that the correct orientation is often indicated by the USB symbol on one side. It's merely trying to explain why it's often difficult to get Type-A connectors to fit first time round.
 
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DelJo63

The host side is off-center and quite impossible to INSERT wrongly -- it does or doesn't INSERT so once inserted correctly there's no chance or need for three attempts. Running into the off-center post is NOT an insert.

Sorry to be so pedantic but the article P**SED me off
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,508   +5,314
The only "formula" which could exist for, "having to insert a USB drive three times before it works", would be to insert it correctly, think you have it wrong, turn it upside down and quickly realize that's completely wrong, thn turn it right side up again, and have it wotk.

Other than that, USB jacks are certainly not immune to dust, dirt, and corrosion. So, a couple of tries should, "shake off the cobwebs", so to speak.

Plan "C", depends on your sobriety, or lack thereof.

In other words, the same psycho active materials that render you incapable of driving a car, may have similar effects on your ability to operate a computer... :rolleyes:

UPDATE: This is most likely why "USB-C" was created. Since you can insert it with either side as "up", that should render it, "power user proof".
 
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It’s happened to everyone: You try to plug in a USB connector, and it doesn’t work. So you flip it, and it still doesn’t work. Frustrated, you flip it a third time—and it fits! Why is this experience so common with USB?


Decades of Flipping USB Cables Around
We’re talking about the classic USB hardware here—specifically, the “type-A” connector that dates back to USB’s first release in 1996.
That happens to me all the time, especially if it is in the back of the pc.
 

Aranarth

Posts: 72   +61
I have the same issue, old tower case the usb stuicks were put in with the "Top" facing away from me, new tower case usb A is inserted with it facing me. If I'm not paying attention I can't get it into the slot with out a couple tries and a "oh yeah!"