Nowadays, modern computers come with a wide variety of ports that can be used in order to connect peripherals to the computer. Such ports are able to offer a huge variety of functions. For example, these are able to send and receive information, connect to a screen or attach useful tools like a tablet or a mouse. Go through this article to learn about computer ports and other details about these, like the types of computer ports, why computer ports are important, and so on.
What Are Computer Ports?
A computer port refers to an interface point between electronic devices like a laptop computer and another external device or computer. You are capable of transmitting data, power, audio & video using it. In order to provide a wide variety of functions & advantages, computers use a wide variety of port styles. These ports are able to serve as input & output sources or both.
Why Are Computer Ports Important?
In the workplaces, computer ports are very important, because computers as well as other electronic devices are common in most work environments. Hence, you need to identify different ports, learn how to operate them and understand the use of every port in terms of increasing productivity at work. These ports are capable of enabling power connection. Moreover, these help to charge accessories for peripheral work, and allow for ethernet connections, and so on. In addition, these allow you to store documents or projects externally, project audio or visual media, and make wired connections to peripheral devices ( like printers or scanners).
What is a Port Number?
Every port is standardized across all network-connected devices, and you should know that every port is assigned numbers. Almost all ports are reserved for specific protocols. For example, HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol messages go to port 80. IP addresses allow messages to go to and from particular devices. Whereas, port numbers help to target certain applications or services within these devices.
Types of Computer Ports:
Computers are capable of transforming data into meaningful information. As per the set of instructions the user gives, it can process the input, and based on that, it provides the desired output. You are capable of connecting many external devices with the computer system. These devices can be connected to the computer using ports. The ports refer to the physical docking points in the computer via which the external devices can be connected using cables. In simple words, it’s an interface between the motherboard and a computer’s external device. Various kinds of ports are available. Let’s learn about these ports.
Serial Port (COM Port):
A serial port is known by the name communication port and allows users to connect external devices like a modem, mouse, or keyboard (mainly in older computers). These types of wires are cheaper to produce than parallel cables. In addition, these can be easily shielded from interference. The two versions of these models are: the 9-pin model & the 25-pin model. It is able to transmit data at 115 KB/sec.
Parallel Port (LPT Ports):
These ports permit you to connect scanners & printers. Due to using parallel communication, it is able to send several bites at the same time. Besides, the data transfer speed is much higher than the serial port. This 25-pin model is known as a Printer Port or Line Printer Port.
USB (Universal Serial Bus):
USB was introduced first in 1997. It is used to connect all external USB devices, including printers, external hard disks, scanner, mouse, keyboard, etc. Generally, most of the computer systems come with at least two USB Ports. This new type of serial connection Port is much faster than the old serial Ports. Moreover, these are more versatile and capable of permitting the daisy chaining of up to 127 USB peripherals which are connected to a one port. It is able to offer plug & play communication.
Types Of USB Ports:
USB Type A:
This 4-pin connector comes with multiple versions, which are as follows: USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1. The common standard is version 3.0, which can transfer data up to 400 MBps. Version 3.1 permits the data of up to 10 Gbps.
It is used to connect a computer & a big peripheral device like a printer. The device includes a USB-B port, with the help of which you are capable of connecting your computer via its USB-A or USB 3.0 ports. With the help of this, your component can communicate with the device. Thus, your components are capable of sharing data, such as these can send files to the printer in order to create physical copies.
USB Type C:
USB type C is the latest design featuring 24 pins. It is able to handle 3A current. Due to handling high current, you can use it in devices for fast charging. The USB Implementers Forum developed the port. This port has no up or down orientation. It indicates that there is no need to flip the male connector over in order to plug this into the USB port. For example, a USB-C plug is symmetrical so that you can insert or plug it in either way.
It is an updated version of the USB-A port. This one is available in the same shape that lets you connect either cord type. The port is capable of providing higher transfer speeds like a USB-C. You can find multiple USB devices featuring a USB 3.0 port. When you combine a USB 3.0 cord with a connector or a supporter card, you are capable of increasing the benefits of the port. Several ports, like quick data transfer ports or a high-speed charger are able to specialize in data or charging.
These are special ports which you can use to connect old computer keyboard & mouse. Invented by IBM, this one comes with a 6-pin mini Din connector. You can see old PCs with at least two PS/2 Ports where each port is for the keyboard & the mouse.
These are called Video Graphic Array connectors that let you connect the monitor to the video card of the PC. This port comes with 15 holes, which is similar to the serial port connector. The VGA Port comes with holes in it, and the serial port connector contains pins in it.
Speakers & microphones are connected to the computer’s sound card, using the sockets.
The IEEE 1394 interface was invented by Apple in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is able to transfer a lot of data at a very high speed. It lets you connect camcorders & video equipment to your computer. And, it features three variants, including a 4-pin FireWire 400 connector, a 6-pin FireWire 400 connector, and a 9-pin FireWire 800 connector.
It sends & receives infrared signals from other devices. This wireless type port’s range is limited to 5-10 ft.
This kind of port helps a joystick to connect to a computer. However, in recent times, USB ports have replaced it.
It lets you connect a PC’s modem to the telephone network.
Digital Video Interface(DVI) Port:
Digital Video Interface(DVI) Port, which connects LCD(flat panel) monitors to the high-end video graphic cards of your computer, is very popular among video card manufacturers.
With the help of these ports, you are capable of connecting to a network & high-speed Internet. This port, which is capable of connecting your network cable to a PC, resides in an Ethernet card. It is able to offer 10-1000 Mb data travel speed each second.
3.5 mm Audio Jack:
This one is a round port that is small in size or an audio jack. You can find it commonly on laptops, computers, phones, etc. Its design allows you to connect to wired headphones & speakers. In simple words, it is able to accept a pin-shaped plug from an earphone, headphone, etc. Hence, “3.5 mm” refers to the connector’s diameter. If you have used older devices, you would have seen them with two audio jacks where one jack is used for the mic, and another one is used for headphones. Additionally, it comes with a 2.5 mm jack or port for mobile headphones.
The design of the RCA connector allows it to accept composite video & stereo signals, which three cables known as RCA cables transmit. Generally, a RAC cable comes with three colour-coded plugs, which can be found connected to the three corresponding coloured jacks of this type of connector. Every coloured jack is ringed with metal. While the red jack is compatible with the right stereo channel, the jack in white colour can support the left stereo channel. Besides, the yellow jack supports composite video.
With the help of this interface, you are able to transmit video & audio to a display screen from a device. This advanced display technology is developed as a substitute for different older interfaces like DVI & VGA. You can see it on tablets, laptops, desktops, computers, monitors, etc. It includes a 20-pin connector, which is capable of providing a better resolution than a DVI port.
It is used to transmit audio and video in 4K resolution. DisplayPort is an HDMI alternative that is compatible with a higher resolution. However, its use is more common in personal computers in comparison to TVs. In order to connect many monitors to the PC, the higher bandwidth of this port is very beneficial. You can see its mini version available on TVs, laptops & desktops.
This Ethernet-style network port is available on the PC, and other kinds of devices, including routers, switches, etc. RJ-45 lets your PC communicate or interact with other networking devices and PCs where Ethernet networking will be needed.
The term’s full form is Registered Jack 45. We call this also Ethernet port, network jack, or RJ45 jack. This one comes with eight pins. Besides, the RJ45 cable has eight separate wires, and each wire has its individual colour. Although it looks like a telephone jack, it is actually wider than that.
You can split video signals into three channels using the interface. Usually, the component video is available in three colour-coded slots, including Red, Blue, and green. A particular component of a video signal is received & transmitted by every slot. It can provide top-quality videos rather than composite videos. In addition, it is able to carry analogue & digital video signals.
This one is one type of registered jack that people use as an interface for ADSL & modem. Besides, to terminate telephone wires, people use this. It is not like the RJ45, though it looks like that. This type of port has six pins only. It is called a 6P4C connector, indicating that it comes with six pins with four contacts. You can use it to connect to dial-up modems. It is called a phone connector, phone jack, etc.
This external Serial AT Attachment connector serves as an interface, and enables you to connect external mass storage devices. People know the modern e-SATA connector as e-SATAp. These hybrid ports are capable of supporting both e-SATA & USB. Both SATA & USB organizations have not officially approved the e-SATA port. So, it has to be used at the user’s risk.
SD Card Reader:
It is used to receive & transmit data you can store on an SD card memory device. This data is available in the form of pictures or videos. Generally, laptops, cameras & desktops have SD Card readers. So, if you want to transmit data, you have to insert the card into the SD slot. Alternatively, using an external SD card reader port is possible on a device that needs to be connected to another device with the help of a different port & cord type.
Micro SD Reader:
It is similar to the previous one but comes in a small size. This one often has lower transmission speeds. Besides, the port is available on multiple digital cameras, along with other small electronics that are capable of storing data, but unable to fit a full-size SD card reader. These are capable of storing a lot of information within the surface area’s 2 square centimetres. All credit goes to the advancements in the memory storage industry.
Tips To Use Computer Ports:
You need to follow these tips for boosting the pros of the computer ports:
Consider Ports When You Shop:
A lot of buyers especially focus on processing power & storage space when they plan to purchase a new computer. Although these considerations are crucial, you need to assess the ports in order to make sure that you are capable of connecting all necessary devices & maximizing their use.
Make Use Of Adapters:
Do you have a device that you are willing to use with the computer you have, but no matching port is there? If yes, then you are capable of finding an adapter. With the help of adapters, you can connect one type of port to another end of the adapter, which comes with an out-port format. For example, adapters let you connect a USB-C device to a USB-A port.
Plug Rotational Items Into Accessible Ports:
Several computers come with many areas with ports, like a desktop computer has most ports, especially on its back, whereas several ports are available on the tower’s front side. You are capable of placing any cord that you are unlikely to move.
Organize Your Cords:
When you plan to buy electronic devices & peripherals, you may need to gather a collection of cords & adapters. If you keep the cords organized by port type, it will help you to look for an item when it is necessary. Thus, you can save both time & will be able to work more efficiently.
How Do Ports Make Network Connections More Efficient?
The use of ports lets computers understand what needs to be done with the data they receive.
Let’s think Bob is transferring an MP3 audio recording using FTP to Alice. If the computer of Alice passed the MP3 file data to the email app of Alice, that application might not know how you need to interpret it. As Bob’s file transfer uses the port that is designated for FTP (port 21), Alice’s computer is able to receive & store the file.
In addition, Alice’s computer is capable of loading HTTP web pages simultaneously using port 80. However, the MP3 sound file & the webpage files flow to the computer of Alice over the same WiFi connection.
Are Ports Part Of The Network Layer?
The OSI model is considered as a conceptual model of the working process of the Internet. It has categorized different Internet services & processes into seven layers.
These layers are:
Ports refer to a transport layer or layer 4 concept. Only a transport protocol like TCP or UDP is capable of indicating which port a packet needs to go to. Headers of these protocols have a section for indicating port numbers.
Network layer protocols ( like the Internet Protocol ) do not know which port is used in a provided network connection. If it comes to talking about the standard IP header, you will not see anything indicating which port the data socket has to go to. The IP headers will indicate only the destination IP address rather than the port number at that IP address.
Generally, the inability to refer to the port at the network layer does not have any impact on networking processes. The reason is that network layer protocols are used as a conjunction with a transport layer protocol. However, it impacts the testing software’s functionality. The software is used to ping IP addresses with the help of ICMP or Internet Control Message Protocol packets. This network layer protocol allows you to ping networked devices. As it does not ping specific ports, network administrators are unable to test certain services within those devices.
A few ping software can provide an option in order to send UDP packets. Hence, you should know that UDP, a transport layer protocol, is able to specify a certain port, as opposed to ICMP, which is unable to specify a port. When a UDP header is added to ICMP packets, network administrators are capable of testing certain ports within a networked device.
Why Do Firewalls Sometimes Block Specific Ports?
A firewall, which is a security system and able to block or allow network traffic depending on a set of security rules, basically sits between a trusted and untrusted network. And often, the internet is an untrusted network. For example, in order to protect networks from online threats, office networks often use a firewall.
A few attackers send malicious traffic to random ports, expecting that such ports remain open. It indicates that they can receive traffic. This action looks like a car thief is walking down the street and expecting any of the doors of parked vehicles to be unlocked. That’s why it is important to configure firewalls to block network traffic that is directed at the available ports. No legitimate reason is available for the wide majority of the available ports in order to receive traffic.
In this case, you should know that properly configured firewalls are capable of blocking traffic to each port by default, except for some predetermined ports that people use commonly. For example, a corporate firewall is able to leave open ports only 25 (email), 80 (web traffic), 443 (web traffic), etc to let internal employees use necessary services. After that, it blocks the rest of the 65,000+ ports.
Sometimes, attackers try to exploit vulnerabilities in the RDP protocol and to do this, they send attack traffic to port 3389. In order to stop such attacks, your firewall can block port 3389 by default. As the port is used for remote desktop connections, this kind of rule has little impact on regular business operations unless employees have to perform remotely.
What Are The Different Port Numbers?
Although 65,535 port numbers are available, all of these are not in common use. A few of the ports which are used most commonly with the associated networking protocol are as follows:
Ports 20 and 21: FTP or File Transfer Protocol is used to transfer files between a client & a server.
Port 22: SSH or Secure Shell SSH is a tunneling protocol that can be used to create secure network connections.
The Port 25: SMTP or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol can be used for email.
Port 53: DNS or Domain Name System is a vital process for the modern Internet. It can match human-readable domain names to IP addresses which can be read by machines. Thus, users can load applications & websites without memorizing multiple IP addresses.
Port 80: HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol can make the World Wide Web.
The Port 123: NTP or Network Time Protocol lets computer clocks sync with each other. This one is a process that is crucial for encryption.
Port 179: You can use Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to set up efficient routes between the large networks making up the internet. People know these large networks as autonomous systems which use this protocol to broadcast the IP addresses they control.
Port 443: HTTP Secure is HTTP’s encrypted version. Each HTTPS web traffic is connected to port 443. Network services that are capable of using HTTPS for encryption (like DNS over HTTPS) are able to connect at this port.
The Port 500:
Internet Security Association and Key Management Protocol or ISAKMP is a part of the procedure of setting up secure IPsec connections.
Modern and secure SMTP uses encryption.
The Port 3389:
RDP or Remote Desktop Protocol allows you to connect remotely to the desktop computers from another device.
Hence, you can see the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority or IANA maintaining the entire list of port numbers & protocols that are assigned to them.
The Bottom Line:
A computer port refers to hardware components that can be used to connect computers to tools, devices, or networks. These ports are capable of managing data input & output. Besides, the ports are capable of transmitting sound data between computers & external devices. Audio ports are used to connect the computers with speakers, headphones, microphones, etc. Whereas, video ports let you send graphics, like images and videos, between computers and monitors or any other display screen. A port which is associated with a network is used to connect a computer to a local network or the Internet. Other ports are used to connect computers with keyboards, mice, printers, and other devices.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are computer connections called?
Computer ports refer to the type of hardware, which can be used to create connections between computers & other devices. Ports are able to connect computers in a network, smartphones to chargers, computers with devices, etc.
What types of ports are there?
Computer ports are of many types, including audio ports, video ports, networking ports, USB ports and ports to connect peripheral devices. Nowadays, modern computers use USB connections for such purposes. However, older systems have many different kinds of ports.
How many types of ports are there in computers?
Although multiple types of computer ports are available, the most common is USB ports in modern devices. The older PCs basically come with separate ports that are used for visuals, keyboards, audio, mice, connectivity, etc.