What is a patch cable used for?

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What is a patch cable used for?
(Photo by Jade Colley - downloaded from http://www.sxc.hu)

A patch cable is a generic term for any short cable used to link, or "patch," two electronic components together. Most commonly, the term patch cable refers to short computer networking cables used to connect patch panels to network switches.


Patch cables are used to connect electronic components to one another. Patch cables can be found in music, video and networking applications.


Patch cables are commonly on the shorter side. Cables designed to connect two devices which are stacked on top of each other can be as short as 3 inches, although longer patch cables do exist.

Use in Networking

Patch cables are most commonly found in computer network rooms. They are used to connect patch panels (central switchboards which are wired to all of the network jacks in a location) to network devices. This provides connectivity to the computers which are plugged in the remote network jacks.

Types of Cable

Patch cables can be made of any type of cable. In audio applications, 1/4-inch instrument cable and XLR microphone cables are common. Network cables can be coaxial cables, but are more commonly Ethernet RJ-45 cables.

Expert Insight

Patch cables of all types are available in custom lengths and colours to meet any need. Network administrators typically make their own custom Ethernet cables. This allows them to make cut-to-length cables which helps with cable management in a network room.

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