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Cables and Connectors

How to Check if an Ethernet Cable Is Damaged

Step 1: Visual Inspection

Bends and Kinks: Look at the entire length of the cable. Sharp bends, weird shapes or crushed sections means that the internal wires are likely damaged.

Frayed Ends: Look at both connectors. Check for wires that don’t look right, bent pins within the connector or a broken locking tab.

Outer Jacket: Make sure the cable’s outer protective jacket isn’t torn or cracked and the internal wires are not exposed.

Step 2: Connection Test

Check for Link Lights: When the cable is plugged into both your device and a network switch/router look at the small LED lights near the ports. Link lights usually indicate a basic connection is established. No lights could mean a damaged cable or a problem with the devices themselves.

Try a Different Cable: Change the Ethernet cable to another one that you know works and test the connection. If the new cable works you have figured out that the other Ethernet cable is damaged.

Different Devices: Try connecting the suspected cable to different network devices to rule out a single problematic port.

Step 3: Advanced Testing (if you have the tools)

Cable Tester: A dedicated Ethernet cable tester is the most reliable way to check cable integrity. It will test for continuity, crossed wires, short circuits and other internal damage.

Multimeter: If you have a multimeter, you can test each wire within the cable for continuity manually. This is more time consuming but can isolate the exact point of failure if you for whatever reason want to save that specific Ethernet cable.

Other Factors to Consider

Cable Length: Excessively long Ethernet cables usually suffer from signal loss even if they are not physically damaged. Stick within the recommended maximum length for your Ethernet standard which is usually around 350 feet (100 meters) for Cat5e and Cat6.

Environment: Exposure to extreme heat, moisture or electromagnetic interference can degrade an Ethernet cable over time.

Cable Category: Older cables (Cat5 and below) do not support the speeds required for modern networks. Considering that 100 Mbps is old news and considered kinda slow these days you might want to switch to a gigabit Ethernet cable.

Troubleshooting Tips

Restart Devices: Before panicking, sometimes a simple restart of your computer and network equipment can clear up connection issues.

Update Drivers: Double check you have the latest network adapter drivers on your computer.

Isolate the Issue: Rule out other factors by trying different ports, devices, and a different network entirely. This helps narrow down whether the cable is the true problem.

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