Whether you’re an average everyday computer user or a networking equipment installer, no one enjoys looking at the jumbled mass of patch cable encircling your computer equipment, often with three or four feet of patch cable slack wound up and secured with tape, twisties, or velcro bands.
Patch cable frustrations
In fact, all that excess wire might even add a millisecond or two of delay to your data signals reaching their destination. You’ve probably tripped over all that wire a time or two, and we all know what it’s like to try and fish it out when it’s way back behind your computer. You know that end plug thingie (also known as a “termination” or “cable end” or “modular connector“)? Hopefully it doesn’t get its little snaggly tab stuck on another wire in the patch cable mass. Then you’d have to reach back there and get it un-stuck so you can pull it another six inches just to have it get snagged again. Personally, I was tired of this routine and decided to simplify things.
You don’t need all that extra wire
I’m someone who never wants to get caught with too little of something. Electronics are no different; whenever I purchase an Apple product, I become irritated because the included cords and cables eventually prove themselves to be too short for comfort. Whether it was the keyboard on my Mac Pro or the EarPods that came with my iPhone, they always end up about 6 inches too short for comfort. On the other hand, when it comes to cleaning up a server room, a shorter patch cable is almost always better than a long one. At home, I replaced every three-foot long patch cable with a one-foot patch cable. The difference it made was amazing. I can see where all the cables belong and where they go and which devices they’re connected to. I certainly do not miss the other 24 inches of patch cable.
Learn from my bad experiences, and buy the good stuff
You wouldn’t think a dumb patch cable is something to research or something you’d want the best version of, but after I bought a super cheap roll of so-called “Cat 6 Copper Clad Aluminum Cable” (there’s no such thing – CCA doesn’t meet the Cat 6 standard), I decided it was important to always take a second look at my cabling choices before pressing the “Buy Now” button. This is a 10-pack of 1-foot patch cables I purchased based on good Amazon reviews: Cable Matters 10-Pack, Cat6 Snagless Ethernet Patch Cable in Black 1 Foot.
Once I received them, I was impressed by the packaging. Each cable was individually sealed, which I like because it gives the impression that these materials were protected from the elements after production and during shipping. After unpackaging each patch cable, of course I tested them with my Klein VDV Scout and they all passed the continuity test. This patch cable product is 24 AWG stranded copper. They’re pretty stiff for stranded cable but this is a function of their short length, as I’ve also purchased the three-foot equivalent patch cable and it’s pretty flexible.
Way too much about strain-relief boots
These cables have strain-relief boots which are solidly attached to the cabling. I’ve had plenty of generic patch cable products where the strain relief boots just slid down the cable instead of staying in place – totally defeating their main mission in life. This is particularly important for a patch cable product like this because the strain relief boot is integral with the anti-snag cover over the RJ45 locking tab. In other words, if the boot isn’t adjacent to the tab, the tab gets caught on stuff when you’re trying to pull the wire around other wire. The last thing I’ll say about RJ45 locking tabs, in the voice of the “Most Interesting Man in the World“: I don’t always buy pre-terminated patch cable products, but when I do, I buy snagless because the strain relief boot also keeps the locking tabs from folding over on themselves and eventually breaking off and rendering the RJ45 connector 95% useless.
Uses for shorty cables
Some handy uses for a pre-terminated RJ45 patch cable in a 1-foot length:
- Connecting your router directly to your cable modem or DSL modem, since most people keep these items right next to each other.
- If your equipment is mounted in a server rack, a 1-foot patch cable is perfect for connecting your switch to your patch panel or any of your other nearby rack-mounted networking equipment.
- A lot of offices have switch to Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) phones. A shorty patch cable can get rid of a bunch of excess cabling on your desk if you’re lucky enough to have a data port above your desktop or in your worksurface.
- Remember that Klein tester I mentioned earlier? Guess what: it doesn’t come with a little tiny patch cable. So if you just terminated some ports in a wall plate, you have to run around and find a shorty to run between your tester and the wall. Or, you could save some time and keep a 1-footer in the case with your tester.