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Frequently Asked Questions

A patch cable is a basic cable that is widely used to connect NICs or other devices to hub/switch, etc. Patch cables send the signal directly through.

Cross-over cable is typically used in for three purposes:

  • To connect two computers without a hub
  • Switch to switch
  • Router to router

When constructing a network it is a good idea to use a different color cross-over network cables for clear differentiation.

Yes. Data on an Ethernet network is separated into distinct data portions called packets. The sending computer assigns each packet an address before sending. When the packets enter a hub, they are copied and sent all the ports. At the destination, the recipient’s computer recognizes the packet address and accepts it. If the packet address is not seen, it is refused. When multiple systems on a hub send simultaneously, data collisions occur, requiring packets to be resent.

Switches have the capability to learn the addresses of different systems and send packets to just the appropriate destinations. This technology usually offers better performance when high network throughput is needed.

Data can be sent up to 100 meters or 328 feet. To transmit data further, multiple cables of up to 100 meters each can be connected with repeaters in between. Cable runs generally should be kept at a max of 90 meters or 295 feet.

In most cases, yes. Many 1000baseT switches support both 100Mbps and 1000Mbps standards and adjust to 100Mbps or 1000Mbps speeds by port. Some older switches set the speeds of every port to be consistent with the lowest speed device.

A Network Interface Card (NIC), also known as a network adapter, is a device that connects a computer with a network. There are many interface options for hooking up a NIC such as: PCI, USB, integrated, etc. Additionally, you may wish to have a wireless adapter which is often the case for mobile devices such as laptops and tablets. Not all network adapters are equal! Perhaps one of the most important differences between adapters is the connection speed.

CAT ratings indicate the frequency of the cables and suggest typical uses for each.

CAT 1 – Lowest grade of cable. No Frequency rating (1Mbs).
Typical use: Alarm systems, Intercom Systems.
CAT 2 – Traditional phone cable. Frequency max: 1mhz (4Mbps).
Typical use: Phone systems.
CAT 3 – Usually 10base-T cable. Frequency max: 16mhz (10Mbps).
Typical use: 10base-T networks, 4Mbs token ring networks.
CAT 4 – token ring cable. Frequency max: 20mhz (16Mbps).
Typical use: 16Mbs Token ring networks.
CAT 5 – Most frequently used type. Frequency max: 100mhz (100Mbps).
Typical use: 100base-T networks / 10base-T networks.
CAT 5e/6 – High-speed cable. Frequency ~350+mhz.
Typical use: 1000base-T over copper (Gigabit Ethernet).

While it is most economical to match the cable type with the need, using higher rating cable provides the capability for future network upgrades.

It is a safeguard between a computer or network and the Internet. It screens packets going to and out of a system and blocks malware and inappropriate data. Software firewalls (personal firewalls) reside on a system and run in the background monitoring the Internet connection. Hardware firewalls are external devices that do not utilize system resources. Virtually all routers include some sort of firewall.

Network Address Translation (NAT) enables multiple computers to use a single IP address to connect with the Internet or another network. It also separates external IP addresses from internal network IP addresses. The NAT device or program resides between the Internet and the network to rewrite IP addresses and port numbers so that all of the packets appear to be coming from or going to the NAT device IP address. This acts as a firewall because it allows multiple systems to access the Internet simultaneously, never allowing outside sites to see the internal IP address.

Yes and No! A wireless network is as safe as you make it. If you decide to set up your wireless network without a security key or a security that might be easily identified, then your network is not safe. However, setting up a strong key and using a variety of other security methods, such as MAC address filtering and non-broadcasted SSIDs (Service Set Identifiers), or name you see when you connect to a wireless network, will make a very secure wireless network. However, neither a wireless nor a hardwired network is impregnable.

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