Introducing ICT systems
Introducing ICT systems

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Introducing ICT systems

10.2 Ports

On the outside of a computer you will see a number of connection points that look like sockets. These sockets are known as ports and they provide connections between the computer and external devices such as a digital camera or printer. Ports control the flow of data between the computer and these devices, ensuring that data is sent and received quickly and reliably.

Modern ICT devices require increasingly large amounts of data to be sent between the computer and the devices. Therefore, it is important that the ports provide a high-speed connection. Two high-speed ports currently available are Firewire and Universal Serial Bus (USB). Firewire can provide a fast connection at a rate of up to 800 megabits per second (Mbps). USB ports come in two versions: USB 1.1 and the more recent USB 2.0. The latter is faster, at about 480 Mbps, while USB 1.1 is only 12 Mbps.

You may also find older types of ports on your computer, such as a serial port, which was often used for a modem, and a parallel port, used to connect the computer to a printer.

Activity 8 (self-assessment)

  1. Which of these devices provide a means by which a computer can receive data from a user: keyboard, scanner, printer, monitor, mouse?

  2. Which type of port provides a faster connection between a computer and an input or output device: Firewire or USB?


  1. keyboard, scanner, mouse

  2. Firewire.

Skip Your course resources

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371