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How to Connect Your Laptop and PC via USB

written by: •edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 3/24/2011

This guide investigates how a PC and Laptop or even two Laptops or two Desktop PCs can be connected via USB and files, then shared and browsed between the two devices.

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    Can I Connect my Laptop and PC via USB?

    USB connections are almost everywhere these days, either as main connector ports on computers and laptops, on mobile phones (as mini-USB) or as firmware access points on set-top boxes and routers. In the absence of a cross-over Cat 5 network cable (the usual method of connecting two PCs), connecting a laptop to a PC (or even connecting two laptops or two PCs) with a USB cable is an oft-considered solution. However without the right USB cable this solution can quickly turn into an even bigger problem.

    With the right USB cable however you can quickly and easily mirror the quality of connection you would achieve with a network cable.

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    Using the Right USB Cable

    Using a USB Bridge cable protects your PC and laptop from power surges and static between each device Connecting a laptop to a desktop with the USB ports can be achieved using a USB Networking or USB Bridge cable – these are typical USB cables with two end connectors which incorporate a circuit or bridge that cancels out a particular element of the USB cable. By nullifying the +5V that travels through a USB cable to provide power to a device (such as a hub, optical mouse or card reader) this type of cable can be used without fear of ruining your USB port or even your motherboard.

    Make no mistake – this type of damage is a very real possibility. You wouldn’t wire a domestic electrical plug incorrectly and you shouldn’t use an unsuitable USB cable when a USB Bridge cable is required. This USB bridge cable is a great choice, costing around $20.

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    Setting up the USB Connection from your Laptop to your Desktop PC

    When you have the correct type of USB cable to hand, plug it first into your laptop and then into your desktop PC. The operating systems (typically Windows) on both devices should detect the USB connections and install the required drivers to allow you to then send data or files from one device to the other. Note that you may need to use Windows Update to find the right drivers if you’re using an older version of Windows.

    With a connection from your laptop to your desktop PC established via USB, files and folders can be transferred and even the Internet connection can be shared. Although USB Bridge cables can provide a solution to this sort of linkup on devices running USB 1.1, a better result for data transfer can be achieved with devices equipped with USB 2.0 – USB 1.1 is limited to data transfer rates of 12 Mbps (1.5 Mbps on some devices) while USB 2.0 can transfer data at 480 Mbps.