How to identify ports in a computer? There are ports or slots in every computer that allow connecting a number of external devices as and when required.
All these ports have different versions. Sometimes, it can be really difficult and overwhelming to keep a track of the names of these ports and what specific functions they perform, especially if you are a newbie.
Since these ports are included in a computer not to enhance its aesthetics, you will need to know everything about them as well as the ways in which you can identify each of them.
- The most common and easiest way to identify the ports in your computer is by inspecting them visually by looking at their shape and color, or number of pins, or checking their label for specifications or by identifying their version.
- You can also identify the ports and also gain specific information about them by using the Device Manager tool.
- Checking the technical specifications of the motherboard in the computer may also help in identifying the ports used in it.
- For a workstation computer, the ports available in it can be identified by using the ‘netstat’ command.
In This Article
How to identify the Ports in a Computer?
The computers of today are much different in design from those that were available in the period ranging from 1990 to the early 2000.
Now, you do not need to use or carry a large number of cables and plugs of different sizes and shapes like before that made the already bulky gadget bulkier.
Today, you have simplified solutions regarding connecting different computer peripherals in the form of ports.
There are lots of different kinds of ports available in the market and several of them come already installed in your computer, desktop or a laptop.
All these ports are designed according to a definite industry standard, and each type serves different purposes.
Remember, the inclusion of ports in the computer may vary according to the brand and model of it.
In order to identify the ports on your computer, you will essentially need to have a fair bit of knowledge about the different types of ports that are available and may be installed in your computer. Here they are in brief.
These are the most common ports where the acronym USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. If you own a MacBook Pro then this will be the only port available.
The USB ports are normally used to transfer files between your computer and other devices such as storage disks and smartphones.
It also serves for attaching external devices and even as a charging point for a few peripherals.
There are different types of USB ports available as of now in the market, each of which has distinct characteristics of their own. The major ones are:
- USB Type A or USB-A port – This is a 4-pin port available in different versions such as USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1.
- USB Type B – These ports are typically used to connect external devices such as printers and scanners. These are also found in optical drives and hard drive enclosures.
- USB 3.0 port – This type technically does not exist anymore. If your computer comes with such ports, consider the system to be a few years old. Now you get USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 ports.
- USB Type C port – This is the latest type of USB port available in the market and has replaced other types of ports pretty fast. These are slim in design and come with 24 pins that allow faster transfer speed and higher current flow.
- USB Micro B ports are usually found in digital cameras, smart phones, smart watches, and GPS units. These ports are powerful and fast.
RJ 45 Ethernet Port
The RJ 45 port, where RJ is the short for Registered Jack, allows connecting your device to the internet.
It usually comes with a companionable Ethernet cable and 8 pins. Some variants may also come with two different LED lights to indicate packet detection and data transmission.
SD Card Reader
This slot allows inserting an SD or Secure Digital card to transfer files from or to it.
These are very small and convenient and are usually found in laptops, business notebooks, and 2-in-1 hybrids.
A short for High Definition Media Interface, the HDMI port is used to transfer audio and video files from the computer to other devices such as projectors, digital cameras, game consoles, larger monitors and more.
The older versions of HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 1.4 but the latest version is the HDMI 2.1.
There are four different types of HDMI ports available such as and can be identified easily by their respective physical forms. These are:
- The standard HDMI Type A port
- The mini HDMI Type C port
- The micro HDMI Type D port and
- HDMI Type E port.
While the first three types of HDMI ports are typically used in the laptops, the last one is commonly used for automotive applications.
This is more like the HDMI port in its functionality but comes with 20 pins.
There are two types of such ports used in the modern computers such as the full size standard DisplayPort and the smaller mini DisplayPort, and both can be distinguished easily by their physical form.
The standard DisplayPort is normally used in larger sized laptops and usually comes with a locking mechanism to prevent disconnection of the attached cables accidentally.
The mini DisplayPort, on the other hand, is usually found in Apple MacBook Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro tablets.
Finally, it is the Thunderbolt 3 port which is very much similar to a standard USB Type C port but has much faster transfer speed of up to 40 GB/s and operates on different protocols.
It can also function as a USB C port but offers more advantages than it.
The Thunderbolt 3 ports are also referred to as an ‘Always on’ connector.
This means that you can plug in a device on this port to recharge it even if the laptop computer is switched off.
These types of ports typically deliver more power as compared to other ports and therefore your device will charge faster.
Now, knowing these types of ports, if you know how exactly you can identify them, you will be able to enhance the productivity and performance of your computer by connecting the right device in the right port.
Identifying Ports in Use
Typically, anyone who is quite familiar with these ports can identify them easily by looking at their shapes.
There are several types of ports that are not marked clearly by the manufacturers.
In such situations, if you are quite familiar with the ports, you can identify them by looking at their shapes if you know the following:
- The USB A or the USB Type A ports are usually flat and rectangular. They are used extensively in computers, TVs, media players, car stereos, gaming systems, and home audio/video receivers.
- The USB type C ports usually come with a symmetrical oval shape which means that you cannot connect it incorrectly. These are commonly used in smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other devices. The new MacBooks come with a USB type C port only.
- The USB Type B ports are usually square in shape and have a bit beveled corners.
- The USB Micro B port can be identified easily by the 5-pin design and its rectangular shape. It also has beveled ends on one side.
You may also know the types of ports and they function if you know the versions.
Ideally, the USB ports have undergone major improvements since its inauguration way back in 1995.
Each new version has become more powerful with enhanced current flow and transfer speeds. Here they are summarized for you:
- The USB 1.0, first released in 1996, can hardly transfer data at 12 Mbps and the USB 1.1 version was nothing significantly better.
- The USB 2.0 changed everything when it was released in 2000 with data transfer speed of up to 480 Mbps and 500mA of power.
- The USB 3.0 was launched in 2008 and this SuperSpeed port has now become the industry standard with data transfer speed of up to 5 GB/s and 900mA of power.
However, more recently, SuperSpeed + ports were released in the form of USB 3.1 and 3.2 with a transfer speed ranging between 10 GB/s and 20 GB/s.
If you cannot identify the ports visually by its shape or its version, it is elementary that you will need to know the other ways to go ahead. There is no shame in it because everyone may not be that intelligent.
For them, the easiest way to identify the type and versions of the ports in their system is to use the Device Manager.
This tool will specifically help them to know which particular version of the USB ports their computer is equipped with. More about it later.
If you are a newbie, then here are a few specific, effective and proven ways to identify the ports in your computer.
Check the label:
This is the simplest of ways to identify the ports. Usually, all devices have the type of ports labeled directly on the body of the device.
However, the color may not be white always. Therefore, you will need to strain your eyes a bit, and even use a pencil torch if you have issues with your vision.
For the USB ports, the labels could be 1.0, 1.1, 2.0, 3.0, or 3.1. Sometimes these may be marked with the symbol of a USB connector as well.
Moreover, USB 3.0 ports may also be marked as SuperSpeed USB usually with a prefix ‘SS.”
If your computer comes with a Thunderbolt 3 port, there will be an icon of thunderbolt lightning next to it or under it.
Check the color:
Sometimes, the insides of the ports in particular may also be marked by different colors. This allows easier visual identification. Here is the list of colors allocated for each type of ports in a computer:
- USB 1.0 and USB 1.1 ports – White
- USB 2.0 ports – Black
- USB 3.0 ports – Blue
- USB 3.1 ports – Red
- ‘Always On’ ports – Yellow
Check the technical specifications of the system:
If identifying the ports by their shapes, versions, color and logo is too tricky for you, you will then have to understand the kind of ports that are built in your device by looking at the technical specifications of it.
These specs are usually found on the system itself and there are different methods and steps to follow depending on the type and model of the device.
For example, if you have a Windows system, the process to follow is practically the same for all devices irrespective of their models, brands and versions. These are:
- Press Windows key + R or just type ‘Run’ in the search bar beside the Start menu to open the Run dialog box
- Type ‘devmgmt.msc’
- Press enter
- When the ‘Device Manager’ window opens look for Universal Serial Bus controllers
- Double-click on it to expand the drop-down menu
A list of all the USB ports that are installed in the computer will open. There may be different types of ports installed.
- If the name of the USB port is ‘Universal Host,’ it indicates that it is a USB version 1.1.
- If the name of the port is both ‘Universal Host’ and ‘Enhanced Host,’ it indicates that the USB port is of version 2.0.
- If the name of the port simply reads ‘USB 3.0,’ it indicates a USB port of version 3.0.
You may also right-click on each of the ports to open its properties to find more details about a particular port.
At this point you must also know that different versions of Windows operating systems will allow accessing the Device Manager in different ways.
So, it is better to know the exact ways according to the Windows operating system version you are using. You can take help from different websites on the internet that will tell you about the exact steps to follow.
However, rest assured irrespective of the model of your computer or the version of the operating system you are using, there will be a Device Manager for sure.
If you are using a Mac notebook, the process to follow to identify the ports is slightly different and includes:
- Clicking on the Apple icon situated on the top left-hand corner of the screen
- Selecting ‘About This Mac’ from the menu
- Clicking on ‘System Report’ button at the bottom of the window of the list of all your system specs
- Clicking on ‘More info’ if the operating system of your system is an OS X 10.9 Mavericks or below
- Clicking on ‘Hardware in the System Information tab to find the list of hardware and
- Clicking on the USB tab to expand it.
Here you will find the details of the ports in your system and you can even check the properties of each by following the steps mentioned above.
Once you know about the ports installed in your computer, you can now start looking for its physical location at the sides of the base.
Check technical specifications of the motherboard:
You can also identify the ports included in your computer by checking the technical specification of the motherboard installed in it.
This, however, is a long—drawn process and may take some time to complete but you will know the exact details of the ports according to the model of your computer.
If you are using a Windows system, the steps you need to follow to find out the type of ports included in it are:
- Opening the Run dialog box by following the steps already mentioned above
- Typing ‘msinfo32’
- Hitting Enter
- Finding ‘System Model’ in the System Information window that opens up
- Clicking and selecting the entire line
- Pressing ‘Ctrl + C’ to copy the model details
- Opening the search engine of your choice
- Pasting the model details in the search bar
- Hitting search.
Look at the search results and open a secure website, preferably that of the manufacturer, and check for the specifications. Focus more on words like USB.
You can also press ‘Ctrl + F’ and simply type in ‘USB’ in the bar under the ‘find’ tab to find the places which mentions the USB. This will enable you to know about the ports specs installed in your computer.
If you are using a Mac computer, the process to follow is exactly the same as Windows and here it is:
- Click on the Apple logo located at the top left corner of the screen
- Click on ‘About the Mac’ option in the drop-down menu
- Select the entire system information including the model name, model number, version of the operating system, and the serial number from the window
- Open a search engine and paste it on the search bar and
- Open the official support website of Apple.
Here you will find the most accurate details of the ports available for that particular MacBook model.
Identifying the Ports in a Workstation:
It is very important to manage your office network and there are several good reasons to do so.
- First, with proper management of your network you will be able to control the high bandwidth usage.
- Secondly, it is important if you want to configure the firewall of your network to allow or block using specific ports that are used in the office workstations.
However, for that you will need to identify the ports in the first place.
If you have a workstation and want to identify the ports built in it, you can use the ‘netstat’ command on the device itself. The steps to follow for that matter include:
- Clicking on the Start menu
- Clicking on the ‘All Programs’ tab
- Clicking on the ‘Accessories’ tab
- Clicking on the ‘Command Prompt’ tab to launch it
- (Typing ‘cmd’ on the search bar and clicking on the ‘Command Prompt’ from the list of search results will also launch it)
- Typing ‘netstat – a’ without any quotation marks and
- Hitting the ‘Enter’ key.
Here you will get a list of data in a tabular form. The first column of the table indicates the type of protocol used and the second column shows the entire list of local connections that are currently in use.
In this column there will be a number beside a colon which indicates that type of port that you are using in your system.
However, if you type ‘netstat – a – o’ without the quotation marks and hit the ‘Enter’ key, you will also have a similar command like the previous one but there will be an additional column in it which will contain the PID or the Process Identification number of the connection.
And, if you want to manage the network of your company in a much better way, you may also use the Resource Monitor.
This will help you to make out which particular service or application of the computer is using a particular port.
The process to follow n this case includes:
- Clicking on the Start button
- Typing ‘Resource Monitor’ in the search box
- Clicking on ‘Resource Monitor’ from the list of search results and
- Clicking on the ‘PID’ tab.
Once the PID list opens, you can sort the list of the running processes and use it to figure out which particular process is using which particular port from the data.
As you can see, there are different types of ports available today and each have distinct characteristics and serve different purposes. Just as the article points out, it is important to know and identify these ports so that you can make the most out of them.