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How to Identify a Crossover Cable

Updated February 21, 2017

CAT5, or Ethernet cable, is used to network computers together, as in a local network or to connect a machine to the Internet. Crossover cable looks almost identical to Ethernet cable but it is more expensive and reverses the transmit and receive signals. It is normally used in temporary networking situations. Although the two cables look almost identical, a crossover cable is easy to identify when you know what to look for.

A normal Ethernet cable consists of eight individual wires bound within the main cable covering. A crossover cable also consists of eight individual wires; however, two of the cables are transposed from one end to the other.

Check the cable covering. Most crossover cables have the word "crossover" stamped somewhere on the coating.

If the cable covering does not say "crossover," hold up the two cable ends next to each other.

The wires are colour coded and follow a sequence. If the sequence of colours at one end of the cable is the same as the sequence at the other end, it is a normal Ethernet cable.

If the first and third wires and the second and sixth wires are transposed, it is a crossover cable. For example: if one end has the wires red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and black, and the other end has yellow, indigo, red, green, blue, orange, violet and black (in that order), it is a crossover cable.

Tip

With advances in router software, most crossover cable can be used in the place of normal Ethernet cable. It does not work the other way, however; normal Ethernet cable will not work where crossover cable is needed.

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About the Author

Wolfram Donat is an information technology professional and writer currently finishing a degree in computer systems engineering. He has had success writing for both on- and offline audiences, and moonlights as a professional copywriter as studies permit. He is currently shopping his first novel to agents and publishers, and is hard at work on his second.