Crossover Cables vs Straight Cables

While straight cables are useful in many situations, crossover cables are useful as well. It is important to understand the differences between these types of cables.

Differences Between Straight and Crossover Cables

Both straight and crossover cables are types of ethernet cables used for network connections between both computers and external network devices. They function in the same way and use the same type of ports. However, straight cables are for connecting different devices, such as a computer and a modem, and crossover cables are for connecting similar ones.

Identifying Straight and Crossover Cables

Whether they are straight or crossover cables, all ethernet cables essentially look the same. When dealing with the inevitable pile of unlabeled cables that forms in every home, this can make dealing with them tricky. Fortunately, you can quickly identify crossover and straight cables if you know what to look for.

When determining if an ethernet cable is a straight or crossover cable, examine the connectors. Observe the pin configuration carefully. The pins are color coded, so you should have no trouble doing this. If the pins are configured in the same way, you are looking at a straight cable. If not, it is a crossover cable.

Uses for Straight Cables

Straight cables have a variety of uses in any home or office network. In fact, they are more commonly used than crossover cables. Most network connections use straight cables, because most network connections are between two different types of devices.

Straight cables are used to connect computers to external network devices. They can connect a computer to a wall socket, a router, a modem, a splitter or a hub. A simple network such as this is a common home setup. However, you can achieve more complicated networks with straight cables as well. By connecting a straight ethernet cable to a hub, then connecting other computers to that hub, you can have a large local area network that allows all of your computers to share an Internet connection. You can even use your LAN for other purposes, such as transferring files easily between computers, or even playing multiplayer games.

Uses for Crossover Cables

Crossover cables have a different, more specialized use than straight cables. While straight cables are used to connect different devices, crossover cables are used to connect similar ones.

For example, if you wanted to set up a local area network between two computers, and you wanted the absolute simplest setup possible, you would simply use a crossover cable to connect them by their ethernet ports. Once you have done that, you are done. While this can limit your capabilities to set up a more complicated network, and limit the number of ports you have available, it is a great way to quickly and easily connect two computers, particularly if one or more of them are laptops and you want an easy, portable connection.

You can also use crossover cables in more complex setups. For example, if you had two routers or splitters that you wanted to connect together so you could connect many computers to both of them, you would use a crossover cable to do this.

No matter what the specific situation, when you want to connect similar devices, crossover cables are the only choice.