Twisted-pair cables are cables in which two conductors are twisted together. This is done to cancel out electromagnetic interference from external sources, such as electronic devices or other cables. A UTP is an unshielded twisted-pair cable, while a STP is a shielded twisted-pair cable. There are differences between the two, though both may be used in similar situations.
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The purpose of a twisted-pair cable is to reduce interference from other noises, which can cause cable noise and distort your signal. A STP cable is wrapped in a metallic shield, and is therefore more effective at resisting this interference than a UTP cable. However, one problem with the STP cable is that it works by drawing interference to this metallic shield, then siphoning it off to the ground wire. If the cable is not properly grounded, it will attract even more interference than a UTP cable.
Because of their shield, STP cables are faster at transmitting data than UTP cables. STP cables also ensure that you get the maximum bandwidth and rate of transmission out of your cable regardless of the external environment. UTP cables, however, can transmit data quicker than an untwisted cable and still block out a significant enough amount of interference to have a relatively high-bandwidth speed.
STP cables are heavier per meter than UTP cables on average. Because they are shielded, STP cables are also more fragile than UTP cables. Any damage to the shield of a STP cable will result in the cable being virtually unusable. Sometimes this damage may be unseen or very small, and you will not know about it until you are out on the field. UTP cables are much more durable and are able to withstand some damage before they are unusable.
STP cables also cost more per meter than UTP cables. For this reason, UTP cables are typically used in home and office cables, such as common ethernet cables. STP cables are used by more professional companies for high-end applications, when external noise interference may be a problem and when maximum bandwidth is required. For example, high-end ethernet cables are typically STP cables.
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