Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beginners' Guide to choosing network cabling

There are various ethernet cables available in the market. They come in various colors too. One thing's for sure. The colors are not just for visual appeal. The color actually indicate the type of wire. While some manufacturers may use other colors on the cables like black, they are usually the standard colors. The completely foolproof method, however to identify the type of cable is to look for words printed onto the outermost insulation. However, the following is a pretty good guide to choosing the best cable for yourself:

Category 3 (generally yellow) - Good enough for a basic network, with average speed. It supports upto 10 MB/s speeds. It's not used so widely, but most devices will work pretty good with it, and though slow, they are real cheap when compared.

Category 5 (generally blue) - This one is a pretty widely used cable. It's perfect for any decent network. While being not very cheap, they provide apt performance for all kinds of networks, be it corporate or home  based. They can easily give speeds of upto 100 MB/s. This one is recommended for anyone looking forward to network computers, as it will be a good investment, looking forward to the future.

Category 5E - An enhanced version of the cat 5, capable of 1000 MB/s (1 GB/s) speeds, if the devices support it. Switching cables won't always speed you up. That's obvious.

Category 6 - Cat 6 is pretty much like the previous one, but it can handle Gigabit Ethernet much better than the cat 5E. It has slightly better performance for the high speed devices (precisely).

Category 7 -  This one is a hardcore type of ethernet cabling. It's worth buying this one if only you're experimenting with a new invention of yours...! (probably something like 1 TB/s... joking). This type is pretty new, and isn't supported much.

So, these are the types of cables available on the market, and choosing them shouldn't be a problem now. The best option to go for when setting up a wired home network (are you sure you want to run hard cables and not go for wireless networks?) is the cat 5 or cat 5E cabling, depending on which one is available. These types should be pretty much apt for any kind of user. Good luck.