How a $3 Cable Can Ruin Your Day
Updated: May 29
While it’s certainly a rarity these days, network patch cables can, and do fail.
It can be a frustrating moment when your printer suddenly stops working for no apparent reason. You get your IT vendor on the phone, annoyed that no one in the office can print to a network printer. It was working yesterday morning but now every time anyone tries to print to it they are met with the unfriendly pop-up, “Printer is offline”.
The printer looks online. The display is on and looks like it usually does. You’ve even verified there’s paper in every tray.
You go through the motions with your IT vendor of restarting the printer, removing it from the power source and plugging it back in after the mandated 30-60 second wait. As you’ve come to learn, this 30-60 second wait time is standard operating procedure by all IT vendors.
Still nothing prints. Maybe we move on to resetting the network settings which will most likely require an onsite visit from your IT vendor. And by now, hours of productivity may have been lost.
Sometimes we tend to overlook the simple troubleshooting steps.
I’ve always believed in starting my troubleshooting at Step 1. What I mean by that is I’ll always look for the easiest and often cheapest thing that might be to blame for the issue we’re troubleshooting. Don’t get me wrong, we work through every problem until it’s resolved, however sometimes it’s just not that complicated.
We see this more often than you’d think. Computers, printers, even servers and routers going offline inexplicably, only to discover a bad $3 network patch cable was to blame.
Network cables take a beating. Desks being moved and dropped on the cable, or desks being pushed so far against the wall they are crushing the cable into the wall jack. Office chairs wheeling over them. Pulling cables out improperly, damaging the connectors. It might be as simple as the cable just aging, deterioration of the wires or corrosion of the metal connectors. Whatever the reason, know that these ever reliable cables we depend on for the bulk of our network attached equipment are fallible and do fail for a variety of reasons.
At Cloud Koala, we proactively replace each and every network patch cable in our data center annually. This helps to minimize the risk of exposing our clients to network outages because of a bad network cable.
If you happen to need any cables for your home or office, I recommend visiting MonoPrice.com. They have one of the largest selections of quality cables and other fun stuff for you to look through, all at excellent prices. And we make no money from this recommendation.
If you have questions about the health of your network cables, give me a call at 704.293.8233 or email me at email@example.com.
Colin Schmitt is President and Founder of CloudKoala, a full-service IT solutions firm based in Charlotte, NC supporting small and midsize businesses across the US since 2002. For more information, visit www.cloudkoalatech.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.