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Extension Technology and
Computer Services


University of Missouri-Columbia   Extension Technology and Computer Services—ETCS

February 2003
 Vol. 20, No. 1

A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists



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Network Wiring
By John Myers

Have you ever sat down to use your computer and it either won't let you log on or your drive mappings (Q: and R) keep disconnecting? If so, then your network wiring could be at fault. Back in the old days when Ethernet connections were only 10Mbs (megabits per second), everything worked just fine, but with the new faster speeds (100Mbs & 1000Mbs), comes new problems.

One common problem is inadequate wiring. There are different ratings of network wiring, depending on the speed that you intend to run on. When we first started to put networks in the county offices, we used Category 3 (Cat3) wiring. For 10Mbs networks this was fine, but for today's speeds we need better wiring. Category 5 (Cat5) and Category 5E (Cat5E) are the preferred wiring specifications.

Another common problem can be interference. Florescent lights can cause major interference, even with Cat5 wiring. The interference from florescent lights does not appear until you reach the 100Mbs network speed. Usually the network connection still works, but is much slower than the same line running at 10Mbs. This type of interference can also corrupt your files and databases.

Ok, then let's just run everything at 10Mbs and be done with it. Good idea, but it's becoming increasingly hard to find hubs, switches and network cards that work at 10Mbs. Even when you find new equipment that works at 10Mbs, the equipment appears to be more susceptible to these network problems, even when they are run at 10Mbs.

If you are responsible for the wiring in your office, then here are a few things for you check to make sure your network will run smoothly in the future. First, make sure your wiring is either Cat5 or Cat5E. I'm not just talking about the wiring from the wall to your computer, but all the wiring from your computer back to the hub or switch. You can find out what type of wiring you have by looking at the wire. On the side, every few feet, there should be writing. Somewhere in the writing you should see CatX where the X will either be 1-5 or 5E. If you have anything below Cat5, then you should proceed to get your wiring replaced. Second, if you have florescent lights and a drop ceiling, and your network wires are lying near the florescent lights, then you will need to move your wiring. Move the wires at least three feet from the florescent lights.

If you have any other questions or concerns about your office wiring, please contact us at and we will be glad to help you. If you do these simple checks now, it will save you time and trouble in the future.



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