The Dangers of Using the Wrong USB Cable on Your Various Electronics

USB cables are not all made equal. In the most extreme cases, cheap cables can fry your electronics or even lead to fire. Here's what you need to know before you pick up another USB cable.

It's difficult to think of a photographer not using USB somewhere during their workflow. This is why it's crucial to know what USB cable is best to use for your various pieces of gear. Thankfully for us, technologist Joseph Thio is back once again with another insightful video talking about everything USB-related.

The video begins with Thio discussing how the charger, cable, and device influence the charging process and how to determine the capabilities of these components. He then explains the two primary types of USB charging: Standard USB Charging and USB Power Delivery. Standard USB Charging is common in smaller, older devices, whereas USB Power Delivery offers faster charging and is found in newer laptops, phones, and even monitors.

Thio also highlights the significant differences in USB cables. He uses a chart to demonstrate the various connector combinations and their maximum power support. He warns of the potential danger of using the wrong cable, explaining how some might not properly communicate with the devices, possibly leading to overcharging and damage. While Thio reassures that this issue mainly pertains to older cables, he advises caution with online purchases, as outdated stock might still be sold.

For photographers, understanding USB cables is essential, albeit not the most thrilling topic. Thio's video underscores the importance of knowing the power capabilities of cables for both safety and optimal charging speeds. Quick charging allows photographers to return to their work sooner. Despite the temptation, opting for a cheap USB cable from a discount store isn't worth the risk.

Are you aware of the differences between various USB cables? Do you still consider using inexpensive cables with your high-end equipment? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Paul Parker's picture

Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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My transition to USB-C is finally complete with purchase of iPhone 15 Pro Max. Now every important item for work is USB-C for quick charging or data transfer: sony a1, ipad mini, iphone, logitech mouse, anker 747 battery, samsung t7, macbook pro 14, mavic 3 pro, anker 747 charger, and Ugreen Nexode 300w charger.

Just bought 10-15 of these cables in the last months and during Black Friday. They're solid and don't look like they will get destroyed like the old apple lightning cables:

- Cable Matters [USB-IF Certified] 40Gbps USB 4 Cable 3.3 ft, 8K Video, 240W Charging, USB4 Cable/USB C Display Cable PD 3.1
- Anker 515 USB 4 Cable 3.3 ft, Supports 8K HD Display, 40 Gbps Data Transfer, 240W Charging USB C to USB C Cable
- Cable Matters [Intel Certified] 40Gbps Thunderbolt 4 Cable 2.6ft with 8K Video and 240W Charging - 0.8m for Hypershop thunderbolt enclosure with Samsung 990 M2 drive I ordered.

Having one cable that can provide fast charge and fast data saves time because I can just plug any of the cables into any of the devices without wondering if it will provide enough juice or data flow.

I just use the manufacturers cable that came with the camera.

Me literally using a standard charging cable for my camera because I can't find the one that came with the camera 🤦‍♀️