While most devices use Wi-Fi now, I bet most home still have a backbone or small LAN network that uses ethernet cables, especially when you want stable and better bandwidth.
Troubleshooting a problem/failing network could be a pain, especially when it works but doesn’t work the way it should.
A worn out ethernet cable sometimes still work but generates a lot of errors resulting in a slow network. This could mislead you into troubleshooting other devices. This happened to me once and I spent many hours looking for a device that caused the network problem. It turned out to be a bad connector of a network Ethernet cable, installed behind wall.
Don’t think ethernet cables last forever and include them in troubleshooting!
Ethernet cable tester
A cable tester is your friend. If you manage your home network, it’s an inexpensive tool in your collection, potentially saving you hours of troubleshooting. The one I have is UbiGear Cable Tester.
For home use, you really don’t need a fancy expensive tester. The one I got serve the purpose. The tester comes with 2 pieces. All I need is to plug the two RJ45 connectors of the testing cable to the tester’s RJ45 port, 1 on each piece. Then turn on the tester and the light signals on each piece will tell you if any inside wire is broken.
Repairing Ethernet CAT5e cables
This UbiGear Cable Tester also comes with a Crimper, Wire Stripper and 100x RJ45 connectors. These great tools come in handy and are all you need to replace a bad RJ45 connector when you find out by the cable tester. And if you are interested in making your own cable, you can just get some bulk CAT5e cable like SolidLink CAT5e.
I haven’t made a CAT5e cable or repair one before. After getting the cable tester toolset, I repaired the first connector in 15 minutes and then the next few ones within 5 minutes each. The most tricky part is to make sure the inside wires are lineup correctly and uniformly. Check out this Making Ethernet Cables – Simple and Easy guide from GroundControl if you are interested.
Note: The cable tester works for all category 5, 6 and 7. However, the crimper and RJ45 connectors are for CAT5e. CAT5e cable is sufficient and compatible with up to gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps). In general, this is plenty enough for home use because home Internet bandwidth is rarely higher than that.