5 Amazing USB Hacks You’ll Want to Try Right Now

Despite the recent standard upgrades to USB 3 cables, many of us still have several — OK, several dozen — USB 2.0 cables lying around the house. We use them for charging our phones, connecting to our printers, storing external information on thumbdrives, and so much more.

But you don’t have to ditch your old cables for the newer models just yet. There are plenty of cool ways to get more use out of your USB 2.0 cables. Here are our top five hacks for USB cables you need to try out today.

  1. More Power
    Do you keep every electronic device connected to the cable it came with? Big mistake. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, for example, both come with 5-watt USB chargers by default, but you can power up the device in half the time by using a 12-watt iPad charger instead.
  2. Computer Key
    Use a USB flash drive as a physical “key” for access to your laptop or computer. Download a free program like Predator to make sure no one can access your files without inserting the magical USB drive first.
  3. Longer Lengths
    Want to run your cables a little longer? You can string together a few USB 2.0 extension cables for lengths up to 5 meters (approximately 16 feet, 5 inches). This is especially helpful for running sound or screen systems without an outlet nearby. For even longer lengths, try an active (repeater) USB 2.0 extension cable specifically designed for this purpose.
  4. Boost WiFi Signals
    Use your USB WiFi dongle to connect to a homemade “satellite dish” fashioned from a metal colander or tin can. It’ll help you pick up better signal from your own router (or the open network from the cafe across the street).
  5. Make a Flashlight
    Power your very own little light with a simple USB port and this converted USB 2.0 device cable. Follow instructions here.

Just because newer 3.0 USB cables and C-type connectors are here doesn’t mean that the old 2.0 doesn’t still hold a firm place in our hearts. Give the old cables in your drawers a new lease on life with a few creative hacks that will be sure to please your geekiest sensibilities.

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