What is the difference between a connector, jack, plug, and port?

Updated: 02/01/2021 by Computer Hope


Power plug

The plug is part of a cable that connects to a port. The plug always connects to something else (e.g., a jack or port). For example, the most common plug is the power plug that connects your computer, monitor, and other devices to a power source. The picture is a U.S. desktop power cord with a male plug end that connects to the wall socket and female plug end for the computer or monitor.


In our example of a power cord plug, this plug is different in different countries around the world.

Cable and cord

Network cord wires

A cable or cord is one or more wires in a plastic covering that allows power or data transmission between devices. The picture shows a Cat 5 network cable. See our cable definition for a list of cables used with computers.


A wire is a single strand of metal (e.g., copper) or optical fibers capable of transmitting power or data from one area to another.


A connector is the unique end of a plug, jack, or edge of a card that connects to a port. For example, all desktop computer expansion cards have a connector that allows them to connect in a slot on the motherboard. With cables, the connector is the end of the cable that connects to a port. For example, the end of a USB cable has a connector to connect to a USB port.


PS/2 connector and port

The port has holes or a slot that matches the plug or card connected to the port. The picture shows a computer PS/2 port for a keyboard and mouse with a PS/2 connector to connect to the computer.


There are also software ports. For example, port 80 is a network port that allows HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) traffic on a network.

  • See our port definition for a full listing of computer ports.


A jack is similar to a port and is a hole or other connection that allows a compatible plug to connect to the jack. With computers, a jack often describes an audio jack.


An adapter is a device capable of converting power or data from one source of input into another. For example, an AC adapter used with laptop computers and other devices takes AC power and converts it into DC power.


Socket 370 or PGA370

A socket is an opening that fits another specific device with matching pins or other connectors. A socket example is a CPU socket, a socket on the motherboard for a computer CPU (central processing unit).

Over the evolution of computers, many different sockets were designed for computers. Each socket supports a set of computer processors. For example, the Socket 370 is a socket that supported the first Intel Celeron processors and Coppermine processors.


A slot is also a connection used with computers that describes a CPU slot or an expansion slot. Today, CPU sockets are used instead of CPU slots, but expansion slots are still used for expansion cards.