10 Things Not to Do When Running a Network Cable (2023)

Network cabling can be a tricky thing. There was a day when people without the proper knowledge and training were tasked with running the cable by virtue of their other responsibilities. For example, telephone technicians and electricians used to be watched for wiring people. However, while telephone cables can sometimes be quite fault-tolerant, data cabling is less forgiving. I'm focusing here on twisted pair cabling, not fiber. Here are 10 mistakes to avoid when installing network cable.

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Mistake 1: Not planning for the future

Perhaps your organization has provided 100 Mbps desktop network connections for now, even though 1 Gbps has become fairly standard. But let's say your organization is about to move to a new location and you need to install new cabling. Are you going to stick with yesterday's best wiring technology or are you going to install something that will meet your needs today and your needs for years to come? Remember, labor is the most expensive part of your project. Although premium cable will not be the least expensive option, you should consider reasonable high-quality cable for your installation. Maybe not going with the absolute best - after all, many organizations won't need 10 Gbps on the desktop for quite some time - but not cheap either.

Mistake 2: Using different cabling for voice and data

Twisted-pair cabling was expensive, so companies installed different cabling for voice and data needs. Since voice was a less selective service and required only one pair of cables, less expensive cabling was used for voice, while data enjoyed the bulk of the budget.

Today, a full installation can still be expensive, but most of the cost is generally labor. the wiring itself isn't really a huge expense. Additionally, with the rise of services such as VoIP, voice in many places has become a data need and requires cabling at the data level. In fact, with the right VoIP equipment, you can often get away with using an existing data cable and then use the VoIP device's built-in Ethernet switch to save on the cost of running multiple cables if it becomes absolutely necessary.

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The point here: Don't just assume you can or should use old-style Category 3 cabling for voice. If you are going to run a separate cable for a phone, match the data cable type.

Mistake 3: Not using cable management

Adding cable management is often thought of as a "would be nice if" scenario. Adding rack racks, rack-based cable management, and the like add cost. But it also makes ongoing maintenance much, much easier. Note that the wiring work will not stop with the initial installation. More cables will be added and things will change. Be sure to label appropriate wires, color-code wires, or implement some other type of process to make it easier to locate wires later.

Mistake 4: Running a cable in parallel with electrical cables

Data cabling used "UTP" - unshielded twisted pairs - to achieve its goals. The magnetic field created by the low voltage passing through the cable is a critical component of the communications chain. When you run this unshielded wire alongside electrical wires, this magnetic field is disrupted and communication becomes noisy and garbled. In many cases, transmissions simply won't get from point A to point B. In other cases, transmission rates will slow to a crawl as communications are constantly retried.

If you must go near power lines, cross them vertically.

And now for a story: Way back in the late 90's, I was asked to investigate why a newly installed coaxial cable was not working. It was a building-to-building connection between two buildings that were very close to each other. Once I got to the spot, I looked up to see that the coax cable was twisted around the overhead power line that ran between the two buildings. Needless to say, it was easy to identify the cause of the problem.

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Mistake 5: Power cable near "noisy" devices and components

Noise can be introduced into data cabling with more than electrical cables. Fluorescent lighting, motors, and similar items that emit electrical or magnetic interference will also wreak havoc on your cable infrastructure. Make sure that in your planning, you leave a data cable route that avoids these types of hazards.

Mistake 6: We don't pay attention to distance limitations... to a point

If you've done any cabling, you know that the standard distance limitation for UTP cabling with standard Ethernet — up to 1 Gbps anyway — is 100 meters. However, if you are running cabling for some other purpose, such as 10 Gbps or 40 Gbps, be aware of the distance limitations associated with the type of cabling you plan to use. For example, if you plan to run 10 Gbps up to 100 meters on twisted pair cables, you must use Class 6A cables or better.

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Mistake 7: Failure to follow laws/codes/ordinances

This is really important for many reasons. First of all, not following local codes can create dangerous issues for security personnel. For example, in most places, the use of PVC jacketed cables is prohibited in air handling areas. When PVC burns, it creates a toxic stew that can be harmful to firefighters and other personnel who may need to navigate the area in an emergency.

If you don't follow local codes related to low voltage wiring, you risk fines and may even have to rip out and replace the wiring. So make sure you verify your responsibilities before you start and make sure any contractors you work with are also aware of local regulations.

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Mistake 8: Not testing your cabling infrastructure

Once the wiring is installed, you should test each cable using appropriate tools to ensure that it will be suitable for its intended use. This includes verifying the length and cable specifications to suit the needs. If you need transmission speeds of 1 Gbps, make sure the cable properties support this need.

Mistake 9: Failure to follow standards

You know, there are only eight individual wires inside a wiring jacket. So why not randomly terminate them, as long as you use the same pattern on both ends and be consistent between wires? Well… that's a bad idea. Standards exist for a reason. Wiring standards take into account how the cables are twisted and placed in the jacket. If you deviate from these standards, you risk introducing noise and inefficiencies into your cable installation that can have a negative impact on overall network performance. The standards I'm talking about are known as EAI/TIA-568-A and B and dictate the method by which data cables must be terminated.

Mistake 10: A cable doesn't run when you need it

Recently, my colleague Erik Eckel wrote aboutthe dangers of using an Ethernet switchwhen a new cable is really what is needed. When you start adding Ethernet switches willy-nilly, you risk introducing unknowns and instability into an otherwise well-designed network. In general, people use mini-switches when they just need to add a port or two, so there is very little traffic planning involved. Depending on the reason behind the need for additional ports, this can be problematic. If new services require a lot of network resources, you can create bottlenecks where you didn't intend. The lesson: Unless you have a very good reason not to, just run another wire (actually, run two, wiring is cheap but the job is similar).

10 Things Not to Do When Running a Network Cable (1)
(Video) How To Fix A Network Cable is Not Properly Plugged in or May be Broken Detected Windows 7/8/8.1/10

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(Video) Fix A Network Cable Is Not Properly Plugged In Or May Be Broken | Windows 10


What are the things you should not do when installing network cable? ›

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Installing Networking Cable
  1. Poor Cable Management. ...
  2. Running Cables Parallel to Electrical Cables. ...
  3. Separate Cables for Data and Voice. ...
  4. Limited Space for Removal. ...
  5. Not Completing Proper Testing.
Mar 13, 2019

What are the dos and don ts of recommended cable practices? ›

Keep network cables out of the way or bundle them with Velcro straps when they are not in use to prevent accidents like tripping over cords, pets chewing on wires, and accidental yanks that could destroy your network cabling.

What are the rules to be followed while installing a network cable? ›

Keep the Cable near other Electrical Cables

By placing them at close distance, you are increasing the chances of sound interferences. Having the network cables fixed near to an electrical cable will produce noise. You should also steer clear from power ripples by putting air conditioners.

What is the most important thing to keep in mind when installing network cable? ›

Plan Well in Advance

Before you start installing network cables, it is important to have a chart or drawing of how you want to lay them out in the network. You can also assess your current network requirements, find out how the previous network installation worked and if there was any.

What are 3 acceptable ways to support cable runs? ›

What are 3 acceptable ways to support cable runs? Three acceptable ways to support cable runs include cable trays, conduit wiring systems, and ladder racks. Here's more information on each of these wire cable support systems.

What is proper cable management? ›

Cable Management is used to describe the way cabling is routed, organized, and supported. This involves organizing your cabling and connectivity hardware in a way that makes it easy to identify components and troubleshoot problems. This makes future upgrades and repairs easier while keeping your IT spaces professional.

How do you keep cable safe? ›

In order to reduce the safety risk, the electrical cables can be protected using heavy duty cable ties and nylon cable ties (or cable cleats) which is an effective way to organize and manage the electrical cables.

What are the 2 standards for network cabling? ›

The ANSI/ITA-568 and ISO/IEC 11801 are the two names you need to know because these two are the main structured cabling standards.

What are the standards in networking cables? ›

What are the Ethernet Standards
CategoryShieldingMaximum Transmission Speec (at 100m)
Cat 5e cableunshielded1000 Mbps / 1 Gbps
Cat 6 cableshielded or unshielded1000 Mbps / 1 Gbps
Cat 6a cableshielded10000 Mbps/ 10 Gbps
Cat 7 cableshielded10000 Mbps / 10 Gbps
2 more rows

What precautions you should take when installing the network equipment and cables? ›

To ease the connection and to avoid stress, do not make cables too tight at cable joints. After connecting multiple cables to a connector that has multiple interfaces, keep the cables slack to avoid generating stress. Bind and clean cables gently to avoid cable distortion, which affects signal quality.

What can cause damage to cables? ›

What are the main causes of electrical cable failure?
  • Application: If cable selected is not appropriate for the application it is more likely to fail in service. ...
  • Mechanical failure: ...
  • Degradation of the cable sheath: ...
  • Moisture in the insulation: ...
  • Heating of cable: ...
  • Electrical Overloading: ...
  • Rodent attack: ...
  • UV exposure:

What are the risks of bad cable management? ›

Dangers of Cable Mismanagement

When cables lay exposed on floors or crammed underneath workspaces, they are at risk of being pinched, frayed, stepped on, tripped over and tangled with other wires. These issues can lead to injury, electrocution, fire, or faulty operation of equipment.

Why do network cables fail? ›

In fact, there are many different ways an ethernet cable can fail. Some common causes for ethernet cable failure include: A bent, cut, or damaged cable. Improper connecting/disconnecting of the cable.

What are the 3 main cables in networking? ›

Fiber optic cable, twisted pair cable, and coaxial cable are the three main types of network cables used in communication systems.

What are the important considerations about a cable? ›

Cable size selection is based on three main factors: Current carrying capacity. Voltage regulation. Short circuit rating.

What are the 3 most common cable used in computer networking? ›

The main types of network cables are coax, fiber optics, and shielded and unshielded twisted pair.

What is the most common cable management? ›

Cable ties

They're the most common solution for managing cables, simply because they're so effective. Plastic cable ties are the most commonly used, though you can find them in different materials, along with different sizes and even colors.

What are some best practices for managing cables? ›

Cable Management Best Practices
  • Label Every Cable. If you've ever taken over a rack or cabinet full of gear, you probably already know how helpful it is when every cable is labeled at both ends. ...
  • Use Only Quality Cables. ...
  • Use Only Quality Terminations. ...
  • Don't Overload Cable Trays. ...
  • Color Code Cables. ...
  • Mind Your Cable Length.
Feb 5, 2016

How often should cables be supported? ›

When fixing cables to exposed horizontal surfaces, the spacing of metal fixings should be approximately every 300mm. For vertical running cables that are exposed, a metal clip every 400mm is recommended.

What four items are part of cable management? ›

4-Step Cable Management for Beginners
  • Start from Scratch. Whether you're organizing a brand-new setup or working with an existing design, this is your chance to start with a clean slate. ...
  • Position Your Power Source. ...
  • Incorporate Cable-Management Solutions. ...
  • Route the Cables.
May 19, 2021

What is the easiest cable management? ›

Cable Ties

Simply the easiest way to manage cables, a cable tie, also known as a zip tie, a tie wrap, or a wire tie, is a fastener used to attach wire bundles and harness components.

What is the main protection of cables? ›

Cables are usually provided with an outer polymer coating for protection. This is called the “outer sheath”. This outer sheath isolates the inside of the cable from external elements that could alter its electrical properties, such as moisture.

How can you prevent cable failure? ›


To prevent cable faults, it is important to select cables insulated in materials that are built to last. XHHW-2 (RW90), for example, is made of crosslinked polyethene (XLPE), a thermoset insulation.

What will you do before working any network cables to prevent potential risk? ›

Remember to always wear protective clothing when handling cable and wire. There is always the potential for sparking or other electrical risks. Sport non-conductive gloves and protect your eyes with proper safety eyewear. Flame-retardant clothes are a good investment for those who maintain cable and wiring frequently.

What are the 6 components of structured cabling? ›

The six components of structured cabling are Entrance Facilities, Equipment Room, Backbone Cabling, Telecommunications Room, Horizontal Cabling and Work Area.

What is the code for Ethernet wiring? ›

Two different wiring standards exist for wired Ethernet: T568A (A wiring) and T568B (B wiring). A and B wiring offer the same electrical properties and either standard can be used. StarTech.com uses the T568B wiring standard for all of the straight-through Ethernet cables.

Is Ethernet wired A or B? ›

T568A and T568B are two different standardized ways of ordering the individual wires inside an Ethernet cable. T568A is designed for backward compatibility with older telephone wires; T568B is designed for better signal isolation and noise protection for newer networking systems and products.

What is the most common standard for wired networking? ›

With tens of millions of computers connected by Ethernet cards and cables, Ethernet is the most widely used data-link layer protocol in the world.

What's better Cat5 or Cat6? ›

What are the Advantages of a Cat6 Ethernet Cable? Compared to Cat5/5e cables, Cat6 cables have stricter performance specifications and significantly higher data transfer speeds at greater distances. They are more tightly wound than Cat5 cables, and the cable conductors and cable sheath are thicker as well.

Why is it important to follow safety rules when working with cables? ›

When workers are exposed to hazardous electric sources, they can get seriously injured and even die. Because of the dangers involved, it's imperative to understand how to keep employees safe at all times.

Is it bad to coil Ethernet cable? ›

Pairs of wires are generally twisted so that 'on average', both are occupying the same physical space and are exposed to the same magnetic effects. The resulting forces cancel, very similar to someone pulling equally hard on both ends of a rope on a pulley. Rolling up LAN cables like this is perfectly safe.

What causes power loss in cables? ›

How is electricity carried over long distance and what is the electricity loss? As current passes through a wire it encounters resistance to the current flow, this causes some of the electrical energy to be converted into heat energy, which is in turn dissipated to the surrounding area.

What causes a cable fire? ›

A cable fire occurs when an electrical installation or an electrical conductor heats up excessively, which can lead to a fire or smouldering fire, sometimes also in connection with a power failure. The cause is usually a thermal overload of the conductor, which results in excessive heating.

What is bad cable management? ›

The issue with poor cable management is that by having all of your cables scattered about in your computer case it restricts how much air can flow through the case. Cool air may get in through the front but the cables limit how much hot air is going to be exhausted, leading to hot air staying inside the case.

What is the most common cause of failure in cable termination? ›

Heat shrinking errors – the #1 cause of cable failures

Poor heat shrinking leads to thin spots, voids, PD, or moisture and dirt ingress.

What type of hazard is cables? ›

Damaged wires and cables can cause electric shocks and present a fire hazard. Any electrical cables, power cords or extension cords that are damaged, or are not functioning properly, should be removed from service immediately.

What is a common symptom of a bad network cable? ›

The most obvious sign of them all is a loss of connection. Of course, sometimes you'll lose connection from other factors such as weather or local outages, but most of the time it's your individual network. Additionally, you might experience network interruptions such as lagging or slow download speeds.

What is the precaution for cable car installation? ›

Avoid cable for damage and chafing during installation. Fireproof glands to be used in case of the cable passing through the bulkhead as it would prevent the fire from one compartment to other.

What is the best way to run Ethernet cable through house? ›

The attic and crawl space are both good ways to run cables through your house. How many ethernet ports per location? Two ethernet sockets per location are really recommended. The UTP cables don't cost that much, and the additional cost for an extra ethernet port is minimal.

What are the safety cable rules? ›

The cable must be at least ¼” in diameter. Flagging must be present at a minimum of 6' intervals with high-visibility material. Must have a smooth surface so an employee does not sustain a puncture, laceration, or possibly snag their clothing. The system is properly spliced or terminated at walls, columns and posts.

What does OSHA say about cables? ›

Response: In accordance with §1910.305(g)(1)(iv)(A), unless specifically permitted otherwise in section §1910.305(g)(1)(ii), the use of flexible cords and cables is prohibited as a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure.

How do you prevent tripping hazards with cables? ›

It's recommended to safely protect larger cables with the most appropriate protector with larger channels. Entry level cable protection starts with a cable protector mat. These mats are easy to install by simply laying them over loose cables or wires.


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