Cables: Identification & Use

Why So Many Cables?

So. Many. Cables! White ones, Black ones, Green ones, Purple ones, no matter the color the result is the same, headaches for users and technicians alike.

Devices attached to computer systems are done so with various types of connection that allow data and power to flow effectively.   When assisting remotely, a partner who can identify connections correctly is a time saver for dental offices and IT teams, get ready for our latest mini-course offering Cable Identification in a "Wireless" World.

So put on your spectacles, grab your notebook, and your favorite study snack and dive into this list of industry standard Cables/connections used in your office:

Power Cables

Most desktops, printers and monitors have industry standard power cables.  These are a three-pronged male (into the wall) and three port female (into the device) cables that provide stable power to the device.

USB Cables

There are different forms of USB Ports denoted by Color:

White : USB 1.X which, is the initial form of USB.  While these are being slowly phased out, there are still some older devices that utilize this cable. This style of USB allows for device charging at a slow rate and data transfer.

Black :  USB 2.X devices, most standard in the industry at this point but is also being phased out in favor of 3.X.  2.X allows for power charging and data transfer at a faster rate than USB 1.X

Blue:  USB 3.X cables are considered the latest industry standard. They allow for the highest rate of Data Transfer and Power Charging of the three.

Please note that the cables and the ports are colored the same; If you have a USB port on a computer that is blue then it's a USB 3.X Port.

Ports are backwards compatible meaning a USB 3.X cable will work in a USB 2.X or lower.  However, to get the full capability of speed and power charging you need to use matching port colors i.e. Black to Black, Blue to Blue etc..  Some Devices require a USB 3.X port for full operation. This should be indicated on the documentation of the device itself.

Ethernet Cables

The ever-loved and greatly feared network cable!  This is utilized to transmit network connection to the internal network of your office.

It looks very much like a phone jack but is slightly larger and both have a lever on top you can depress to release the cable from the jack.  (a phone cable is referred to as a RJ11 port - the ethernet cable is referred to as an RJ45, Cat 6, or simply ethernet)

Video Cables

Display: (Pretty straight forward ay? Display cables allow you to display images on-screen)

Display cables are much like HDMI cables and are denoted by having one beveled side on the port.  Some come with thumb buttons to disconnect from the jack, some do not.  Either way, they are put in solidly into the back of the computer and the monitor and provide video connection.

HDMI Cables: HDMI Standard is what most modern monitors and computers use. It has the benefit of being used in all almost all modern TV's as well!

This port supports Visual as well as Audio channels for processing by the computer or the TV.  However, just because it has the audio capability does not mean it needs to use the audio capability.  Do not be afraid to use HDMI going to a single Monitor with no audio capabilities, It will work just fine.

Mini Display/Thunderbolt Cables

Mini Display/Thunderbolt are specialized, miniaturized ports that are usually found on both laptops or mobile devices, and in some cases used for higher end graphics cards. If your practice uses 3D imaging software and the computer has a higher grade of graphics card, you could use this port.

Mini and Micro HDMI Cables

Mini and Micro HDMI are more specialized plugs usually utilized in mobile devices like your laptops.  They provide the functions of full HDMI connections while having the benefit of lower size, which helps to save space for your compact computing needs.

USB Type C - Thunderbolt Cables

USB C deserves a special mention!  It's being pushed as the standard for mobile units and provides a solid data transfer for Audio, Visual, and Power to your devices.  Mostly found on Mobile Devices such as Android, Apple, and now many PC laptops, it represents an attempt to further standardize ports while giving much higher data transfer rates and reliable power supply.

Vintage Style Cables

Techs remember the bad-old-days of non-standardized ports for video connections.  We still must deal, on occasion with older monitors as well as servers that are designed to utilize more hard-lined and not digitized data transfer.

VGA/DVI represent an older style of video connection:  They are hard-lined, extremely reliable, but do not have audio or power capabilities.

Larger scale standard ports such as the VGA or DVI come with thumb screws on the sides that are used to secure/release from the machine.  Of course, smaller versions of the ports represent an attempt at miniaturization although we rarely see these in the field these days.

Hubs & Extenders

Sometimes offices like yours will need just a few more inches‚Ķ or feet‚Ķ to attach a cable.  All of the cables above have the capability of going into an extender or a Hub: A device utilized to extend the range and in some cases bring multiple different signals into one‚Ķ hub.

A USB Hub is a prime example of a widely used hub.   If you have a credit card machine, a mouse, a connected printer, a hand scanner, a Dymo Label Maker, a keyboard, a this, a that‚Ķ and your system does not have enough USB ports a Hub is a life saver!  Although these are mostly used on laptops, in some cases we can use them on PCs.  They come in different styles, some powered independently some not, some with more USB and with different USB Types supported.  Check with us or the manufacturer for the full capabilities.

Different connection cables support different types of devices and different types of data. It can be confusing to know the specifics but reach out to us and we can help weed through the garden of wires without the need of a machete, that would be a bad idea.

About Darkhorse Tech

Whether you're just starting out or a well-established organization, Darkhorse Tech has the experience and technology to help get you moving, cut costs, and streamline your operations via unlimited IT support. We are here to help you do what you do best: focus on providing top-notch care and service for patients - not dealing with IT problems, lag time spent talking with technical support, or complicated technological mishaps. Unlimited IT support services help the whole team work efficiently without worrying about significant system issues or constant interruptions.

Our additional security services include:

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Darkhorse Dental IT Is Here For You

We understand that caring for your patients is your top priority. Dealing with a computer issue, slow IT response time or HIPAA compliance requirements just aren’t high on your list of to-do’s. That’s where Darkhorse Dental Tech comes in. Our team of Dental IT specialists are experts when it comes to running a great, secure and successful practice —and so much more. Whether you’re looking for IT services for startups, or existing support and security services for your practice, Darkhorse can do it all for you, so you can get back to your patients.

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