Ethernet cables are the primary way to connect computers and devices to networks and the Internet. But what’s the best length for an ethernet cable? Do shorter cables cause speed issues? If so, how short is too short? How long is too long?
After reading this article, you’ll know a lot about ethernet cable lengths and their effect on network performance. You’ll understand why some manufacturers caution against using very long cables, and how you can test your own cable to make sure it’s not affecting your bandwidth.
Are shorter ethernet cables faster?
The word “ethernet” refers to an entire family of technologies. Ethernet cables connect computers and devices to each other and the Internet.
Different types of ethernet cables have different maximum transmission rates: You can use cables for 10/100 Megabit or for Gigabit ethernet. A Gigabit ethernet cable should offer the same speed. Longer cables are just wider to compensate for their distance. For this reason, shorter ethernet cables are not faster than longer ones. They are cheaper though.
Despite this, there are some factors that can make the length of the cable important:
-When you use very long cables, such as those with a length of more than about 100 meters (328 Feet) for Gigabit ethernet, the cables start to lose more and more of the transmitted signal. The longer the cable, the more degraded the signal will be. For long-distance networks, you may need to use special shielded cables that can better withstand the loss of signal and interference of other signals (such as microwave, fridge etc.). In reality though, if you buy cables from a reputable brand, you shouldn’t notice any delay.
-Longer cables are also more prone to breaking. Ethernet cables are quite fragile and if you bend them too much, they can break or slow the signal down.
These don’t matter too much in a home network. The main factor will be the type of Ethernet cable and the speed of your router and modem. If you place a lot of routers or splitters behind each other, the signal can start to slow down as the network is only as fast as the slowest device on it.
Routers have advanced software that allows them to adjust the signal to the needs of your network. In commercial systems, it is possible to increase the strength of the signal if needed.
What is the best length for an Ethernet cable?
As discussed before, the length of the cable doesn’t have a lot of impact on the network speed. There are other factors to consider.
The best Ethernet cable for your network will depend on the situation.
– If you need the fastest network speed possible, go with a Cat7 cable. These are more expensive but can be worth it. Adding fiber optic cables is in most instances not necessary as you won’t get a big speed boost out of it.
– Go with a Cat6a cable if you need to use a device that only supports Cat6a. Check the manual of your devices to see if they have specific requirements. Older devices might need a specific type of cable.
– A Cat6a or Cat6 cable will give you enough speed for most networking needs and is unlikely to bottleneck.
– Go with a Cat6 cable if you want to connect multiple computers to your network with a switch. A Cat6 cable will allow you to connect multiple computers with a switch—an important feature when you have several computers that need to share resources.
The type of router has also a big impact on your Internet speed:
-Pick a router of a big brand. These offer better support and compatibility. Some routers and switches are only supported for a few years so you will have to replace them later on.
-If you play computer games, you might have to pick a faster router. Routers and modems can be a bottleneck in a home network. You should make sure that these don’t slow things down.
Routers can be quite expensive but they can be worth it. It is always a good idea to have some spare ports on them as you might add more devices to your network later on.
How do you know if your ethernet cable is causing problems?
If you notice that your network is slowing down, it could be due to issues with your network, your computer, or your network connection. You can check ethernet cables with a tester.
You just plug the cable in the tester and will get an indication if there is a problem with the cable. It is important that you do this when you cut the cable yourself. Ethernet cables have a lot of pins and they have to be connected properly.
If the cables are working properly, you can check the router and modem. Software updates can cause a lot of problems. It is possible that you have to reset these devices to get them working again.
Also, check the settings of your device. Sometimes they switch between a wired and wireless (or WiFi connection) and this can cause interruptions.
Is it safe to cut ethernet cables?
Your ethernet cable might be too long and you wonder if you can cut it.
In most instances, ethernet cables don’t carry electricity and are safe to cut. Check your system to make sure that this is the case.
Make sure that the ethernet cable is not installed in a wall before you cut it. If you break the cable, it can be quite hard to install a new one in the wall. Completely unplug the cable before you start working on it.
There are special tools to cut ethernet cables. This ensures that the cables are cut straight and are not bent or broken. Ethernet cables are quite fragile and should be handled with care.
After you have cut the ethernet cable and installed a new part, you can use a tester to make sure that everything works properly.
You can always cut an additional part of the cable if there is an issue.
Can you just unplug an ethernet cable?
If there is no electricity on the ethernet cable and the connected devices don’t require internet, it is possible to unplug an ethernet cable without too many issues.
You should turn down the device to that the cable is connected. This ensures that the modem or router is able to run its software programs and function correctly.
It is also important to check all the devices on the network. If you remove one cable, it can affect a lot of other devices (such as printers, the WiFi network, and so on).
If you unplug the ethernet cable, you should make sure that you press the plastic part. If these clips break, it can be quite challenging to connect the ethernet cable to another device.
If you have a complex network, it is a good idea to check the schematics of the installation to see how the cables and devices are connected. This avoids problems down the road.
The length of your ethernet cable can affect the amount of bandwidth available and the quality of your network connection. For best results, use cables of the appropriate length and keep your cable length as short as possible. Keep in mind that cables come in different types, and you may need to use a higher-quality type of cable for longer distances. Additionally, you may want to use network switches to keep your cables short.
There are other aspects (such as the type of router that you have) that impact your network speed more. You should spend more on these if you want to get a faster network. That being said, it can be easier to work with shorter ethernet cables so planning where you will use your devices can make it more convenient to install a house network.
We have discussed how to hide ethernet cables in your house here. This can give a more orderly vibe to your rooms. In most instances, you can use WiFi instead of Ethernet.