USB 3, 3.1, 3.2, 4 and TB 4?

What’s the difference between USB 3, 3.1, 3.2, USB 4 and TB 4 and why not Gen 3.2 2×2 in terms of speed for accessories to Macs? We’ve come across some confusion with back-up drive requests on shoots with questions over which drive to use to get the fastest copy times.

Tom’s Hardware has a clear explanation and we’d add the following to make it relevant to photography and Mac users:

  • The fastest and most affordable backup external drives work at USB 3.1 Gen 2 (also called USB 3.2 Gen 2) which is 10 Gbps. Anything less and you may encounter a longer wait for backups.
  • Macs don’t use USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 which works at 20 Gbps unfortunately so buying drives that have that higher speed doesn’t do us any good.
  • USB4 is here but as with all things tech, it’s taking a while to get the hardware that works at this speed at a decent price. Backing up lots of data will be quicker but the some USB 3 speeds will do until then.

    We try and keep on top of data backups through the day so no one’s waiting around for long at the end of the shoot!