Imagine you have just installed a high-speed ethernet cable, but upon turning the router on, you start to receive sub-par results.
In such cases, all the components require testing. One common fault that we find is with the ethernet cable itself. To check the cable for faults, we would require a best network cable tester.
This is a small device that connects to both ends of a cable to measure the strength of the signal across different distances. Now, before you run to the store, it is important to know how to use network cable tester.
So, today we will be looking into an in-depth guide into the world of cable testers. Let’s get right to it!
What Is a Network Cable Tester?
It is important to know what a cable tester is and the components it consists of to understand its use better.
As the name suggests, a network cable tester is a device that tests electrical connections in ethernet cables. Other than testing, the device will also give you important information, such as the connection strength and outside interference.
The device itself is divided into two parts- the tester and the remote. On the body of the tester unit, there are multiple port openings. This is to allow testing for multiple types of network cables. Therefore, it is important to know which type of cable you are testing in order to get the device to work.
On the other hand, the remote is where the other end of the cable is connected to. This is what completes the circuit and ensures that electrical signals pass through the cable.
When Should You Use a Network Cable Tester?
Now that you have a good idea of what a cable tester is, you must be able to determine which situations require its use.
Just because you have a weak connection or no connection at all, does not really mean your cable is faulty. For example, in the case of ethernet cables, an error in the router settings can also cause network failures. So, before checking the network cable, make sure all the other components have been thoroughly tested.
Here are some of the common cases where you should test your network cable-
1. Slow Connection Speeds
When you begin to receive slow connection speeds, you should check the cable and see whether it is designed for that specific purpose.
Using a cable tester will allow you to check how strong the data transmission power is within the cable. This can also happen due to weak connection strength between the server and the destination computer.
2. Outside Interference
After checking all the components, if you still receive sub-par connection speeds, the cable should be tested for outside interference.
Signals from outside can cause disruptions in the electrical signals within the cable. Testing it with a device that shows outside interference will guide you to place the cable in a more suitable area.
3. Physical Wear and Tear
Physical wear and tear is a common case with any network cable over the years. If your cable has slits or deterioration on the outer plastic sheath, then it should immediately be tested.
How to Use a Network Cable Tester?
Using a network cable tester isn’t rocket science. All you need to do is follow these simple steps and you should be able to determine the condition of your cable easily.
Step 1: Purchasing the Right Tester
This is the most crucial step in getting your cable test done right. Purchasing the right cable tester is not as easy as it seems and will often have you puzzled. However, following a couple of pointers will allow you to make a sound decision.
Try to focus on the cable type you are trying to test. The tester of your choice must be compatible with the cable you are trying to test. So, make sure you know the cable type before making your choice.
Also, not every tester will let you test the same set of parameters. Therefore, you must know whether you are testing the cable for connection strength or outside interference, and choose a tester that allows it.
We would advise you to purchase a tester that comes with an LCD. This is because other models will represent the results through light flashes and sounds, which are easy to miss in outdoor or noisy environments.
With an LCD, the results will be shown clearly no matter the lighting or environment. Also, when it comes to testing different parameters with one tester, you will require a display to be able to understand the results clearly.
Step 2: Check the Cable
Before you get into checking the data transmission speed of the cable, run a visual check to see whether it has experienced any wear and tear. This can prove to be time-saving if your cable has, in fact, gone through aggressive damage.
Step 3: Connecting the Cable
Take one end of your network cable and plug it into the testing unit of the cable tester. The other end goes into the remote or receiver jack.
Advanced testers come with various ports on the tester unit that enhance their versatility. When plugging the cable into the tester, make sure you are connecting it to the right port.
Sometimes you might find the transmitter end of the tester labeled as “TX” while the receiving end is labeled “RX”. This should enable you to understand which unit is the tester and which is the receiver.
Step 4: Check the Tester Display
Most common network cable testers come with 8 LED lights on the tester and receiver unit. Each of the 8 lights represents the pins on both ends of the network cable. There is also an extra light labeled G which stands for ground.
Ideally, upon testing your cable, all 8 lights should light up. This suggests that all the 8 pins on both ends of the cable are properly configured. If any 1 or 2 of the LEDs do not light up, then you may have a short inside.
The G, on the other hand, will only light up when you have a shielded cable. The difference between a shielded and an unshielded cable is that it has a metal layering that protects the 8 strands of the cable.
Cable testers have been underrated for the longest period. And so, very few people actually consider testing their cable for data transmission speeds or outside interference.
However, if you know how to use network cable tester, you will easily save time when checking for faults within your network system.
We hope reading this article will allow you to test out your network cables and interpret the results without hassle.