Walt Mossberg

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When USB 3 Will Be Mainstream

Q:

I haven’t seen much information from journalists or the major PC manufacturers about the new USB 3 option. I know just a few manufacturers have it as an option with their PC. When will it be mainstream?

A:

USB 3.0 is a new, much faster version of USB that promises to transfer data up to 10 times as rapidly as the current USB ports (called USB 2.0) and to provide more electrical power to run connected devices. It’s also backwards-compatible with USB 2.0, so you don’t have to throw out your current USB peripherals. The new system should be especially helpful in cases where you are transferring large amounts of data, such as backing up computers to USB-connected hard disks.

Many computer and peripheral makers are planning to build USB 3.0 into their products, and a few have already done so, sometimes including only one USB 3.0 port while retaining a couple of the older-type ports. I expect to see even more computers and peripherals with USB 3.0 by the holiday shopping season. But it may not be “mainstream”—common on most new devices—until sometime next year.

Q:

I’m unsure how syncing works. Is there a danger, when two devices are synced, that an older version of a file might overwrite a later version?

A:

It depends on the sync software you’re using. Some syncing or backup programs do overwrite an older copy of a file with a newer one. Others, like the Hitachi system I reviewed last week, keep multiple copies, or versions, of a file that changes, so you can retrieve an older version, even after it’s been altered. If you’re concerned about this issue, make sure the sync or backup service or software you choose supports retaining enough multiple versions of a file to meet your needs.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online for free at the new All Things Digital web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

Write to Walter S. Mossberg at walt.mossberg@wsj.com


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