Ethernet Cables 101

Ethernet cables are used to transfer data between connected devices. Chances are you probably have an ethernet cable at home and at your workplace. Even if you have a wireless router it is still connected to the modem via an ethernet cable.


Types of Ethernet Cables

Ethernet cables come is several different categories:

  • Category 5: Usually shortened to Cat-5. These cables can be up to 100 meters in length. They support speeds of 10 or 100Mb/s and operate at 100 Mhz.

  • Category 5e (Cat-5e): Has all the same features of the Cat-5 but can also support speeds of 1Gb/s.

  • Category 6 (Cat-6): Can run up to 100 meters in length, but only 55 meters when running at 10Gb/s. It can support speeds up to 10Gb/s and runs at 250 Mhz.

  • Category 6e (Cat-6e): Has all the same features of the Cat-6, but can be run a full 100 meters when operating at 10Gb/s and 500 Mhz.

Cables can also be Solid or Stranded.

  • Solid: A single piece of copper is used in solid ethernet cables. They are less flexible but more durable. They work well when a cord will not be moved often.

  • Stranded: These cables are made from multiple small copper strands bundled together. They are more flexible and can be used when the cables will need to be moved frequently or bent around objects.

Ethernet cables also come in shielded and unshielded varieties.

  • Shielded cables provide more protection from interference. They are best used in areas that may have high levels of interference.

  • Unshielded: These cables are adequate for most home uses and short cable lengths.

Ethernet cords can be damaged by being bent too sharply, being run under heavy objects, or just being subjected to normal wear. If a cord is accidentally pulled too hard the wires could come loose from the plug. In order to keep your cords safe and manageable, use a retractable ethernet cord reel.

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