One of the most frustrating problems you can encounter is a faulty Ethernet cable. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it can waste a lot of your time. You can isolate this problem by tediously testing components until you isolate a single line.
Often you can solve the problem by checking and reseating the connection the Ethernet cable makes -- but not always. And unlike your network interface card (NIC), which you can PING, there really isn't any way you can address an Ethernet cable using software.
You need a hardware tool that you can use to test an Ethernet cable's condition. Ethernet cables are too expensive to simply toss every time you have a question.
Several companies make Ethernet cable testers, and you can even make one of these devices yourself for a small amount of money. Cables n More, for example, sells a
Barrie Sosinsky is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.
This was first published in November 2002