Are external hard drives all adopting the new USB-C interface...

USB is probably the most ubiquitous connection interface in the world. It connects our hard drives, flash memory sticks and all our peripherals. But is the new USB-C simply a new standard like USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 and why is it so important to us? Are external hard drives going to adopt USB-C universally?

The USB standards have traditionally focused on improvements in speed and power. USB 2.0 was introduced over fifteen years ago and saw a data throughput of 480Mbps with a power draw of 1.8A at 2.5V. USB 3.0 arrived nearly seven years ago and saw massive increases to 5Gbps and 5V at 1.8A. In contrast USB-A’s physical characteristics remain the most common design in use today. USB-B was adopted to accommodate smaller plug sizes as media decreased in size. However both these types have to be backwardly compatible and you can see both at either end of a cable.

USB-C on the other hand is intended to replace these and be small enough to not require mini versions. Also it is reversible, which means there are no male or female ends. Clever circuitry understands which way round the cable is plugged and connectors fit either way. The main advantage is in power and speed with rates up to 10Gbps! Also the cable can deliver data, power and display all in one and that’s worth getting excited about! Put simply, connecting and charging your devices is going to become much easier. You won’t have to wait nearly as long to receive a full charge.

The new generation of external hard drives are seeing USB-C connectivity, such as LaCie who are pioneering the interface. But With USB-C still in its infancy, they are not forgetting other users. The hard drives also have traditional USB-A ports. Flash drives are also adopting this new technology, but their data transfer speeds are somewhat less overwhelming.

USB-C builds on USB 3.1 and is being adopted by many leading hard drive and computer manufacturers including Apple, ASUS, DELL, Microsoft, HP and Intel amongst others. However there are teething problems with USB-C. Most peripherals do not support the standard and you will need an adapter. Where peripherals do support USB-C, most only come with a single port. Ultimately it is not expected that USB-C will replace all other variants. Desktops are less of an issue and they may well stick with the older standards. If they do this means supporting lots of cables for different standards.