Home Network Cabling

Now you have network cards installed in your PCs, and a switch. All that’s left on the hardware side are some cable to tie everything together. This is where things get tricky, because you can go one of two ways – either purchase the cables pre-made, or make them yourself. The real decision rests on what you’re planning to do. If you’re wiring your whole house, you’ll want to go out and buy a box of Category 5 unshielded twisted pair cabling (aka Cat5 UTP), some RJ-45 plugs, and make the cables yourself. If the cables you need are much shorter (limited to a room or two), then it may be cheaper to buy the cables pre-made. There are upsides and downsides to each method.

The upside of purchasing cables is that the work is already done for you – the cable is wired correctly, and all you need to do is plug it in. The downside is that pre-made cables are generally expensive – you’re being charged an arm and a leg for someone else to have done the work. However, if you only a need a few cable runs to connect your equipment, it’s generally a waste to buy a huge box of cable, the RJ-45 plugs, and the crimping tool you’ll need to make your own.

If you do choose to make your own cables, you need all three of these elements, plus a whole lot of patience. While making a cable may look easy, it can also be a real pain, especially trying to get everything just right. It’s too easy to accidentally nick a wire, wire the plug wrong, or mess things up in a myriad of other ways if you’re not careful. If you are going the DIY route, make sure that you create your cables correctly, as outlined in a later article in this series.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of 2000Trainers.com. 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.