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USB comes in two versions that run at two different speeds. A faster device plugged into a slower interface works, but works more slowly than it could.
I think I saw this once but maybe I was dreaming. I got a system message about my USB connection to the effect that I would get faster results if I moved to the faster USB port. On my machine there are two near the top and two more nearer to the bottom. Are they all equal or are some faster than others because of their location?
You weren't dreaming.
Windows does occasionally notify you that "The USB device can perform faster if you connect it to a High Speed USB 2.0 port."
When, why, and what to do about it vary depending on your system and the USB device you have in hand.
USB (Universal Serial Buss) currently has two versions: the older 1.1, 12 megabit per second standard (mbs), and the newer 2.0 capable of 480mbs, or 40 times faster than 1.1. Both USB devices, and the interfaces you might plug them into, are either version 1.1 or 2.0.
One interesting aspect of USB is that it's totally valid to mix and match 1.1 and 2.0. The very common scenario is that a computer will have a USB 2.0 interface, capable of the higher speeds of 2.0, but will still support and work properly with 1.1 devices plugged in.
The reverse is also true, and I think that's the scenario you're seeing. It works like this:
Your computer has a USB 1.1 interface. That means it's limited to the slower 12mbs speed.
You purchase a newer USB 2.0 device and plug it in. It works, which is nice, but even though the device is capable of 480mbs your computer's USB interface will limit it to the slower 12mbs.
And that's exactly what Windows is telling you: you have a 2.0 device plugged into a 1.1 interface. As a result it'll perform slower than it could. If you were able to plug it into a 2.0 interface then the device would be able to operate at full speed.
The difference between 1.1 and 2.0 is a difference in hardware, so it's not something you can just install new software for. In addition, most machines are manufactured with all 1.1 or all 2.0 interfaces. Typically older machines have 1.1, and newer machines have 2.0. So it's also not just a matter of plugging into a different port on your machine, chances are they're all the same.
If you have a machine with USB 1.1 interfaces the only real alternative, short of upgrading to a newer machine, is to purchase a USB 2.0 add-in card. The USB ports provided by that card will be the higher speed 2.0, while your older USB interfaces on your machine will remain 1.1.
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