Protocol Analyzers and Cable Testers

A protocol analyzer is a software utility that allows network traffic to be captured, and the contents of frames to be analyzed. A protocol analyzer often provides the best point of reference with respect to communication issues and errors that may be occurring on a network. The capabilities of protocol analyzers vary greatly, and range from enterprise products like Sniffer from Network Associates, to freeware tools like Ethereal.

A cable tester is a small handheld hardware device that can be used to troubleshoot a variety of physical connection and cabling issues. For example, a cable tester can be used to determine whether the pinouts of cables are correct, whether maximum distances have been exceeded, if a cable contains breaks, and so forth. Cable testers are available for a variety of different media (twisted pair, coax, fiber) and tend to be an invaluable resource in when troubleshooting physical layer issues.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.