How to Connect an Ethernet Cable (Step-by-Step Guide)

An Ethernet cable is a type of network cable which is used for connecting devices that are present in the same local area network.

Ethernet cable essentially helps in connecting and carrying the broad-band signals between such devices as PCs, modems, routers, or any type of wired and internet-operated devices within a local area network.

These physical cables look like traditional telephone cables only thicker, wider, and with more wires. These ethernet cables are attached to the ethernet ports built into the device with which it will be used.

Though these cables come with their limitations as a result of which different kinds of ethernet cables are optimized. The three most common types of ethernet cables are-

  • Category 5 which is also referred to as cat5, is a fifth-generation ethernet network cable that can support speeds of up to 100Mbps.
  • Category 6 also known as cat6, is the sixth generation of ethernet cable which can support speeds of 1Gbps and is tightly twisted
  • Category 7 or cat 7 is more durable and provides a longer service life than cat5 and cat6. It can support speeds of 10Gbps and higher.

Now, for an Ethernet cable to work, it needs to be set up properly. If you are not sure about how to do it you can follow the step-by-step guide on how to connect ethernet cable.

Step-by-step guide on How to connect Ethernet cable

Step 1: Acquire a suitable ethernet cable

The first thing you need to do is get a suitable ethernet cable. It is always better to get an ethernet cable than can support industry standards.

Category 5 or cat5 and category 6 or cat6 are two categories of ethernet cable standards that most technicians recommend.

They are also known as RJ-45 and look like a telephone cable with a square plug and clip on respective ends.

Step 2: Connect to the router

Before you connect the ethernet to your computer, you need to connect it to the router. For this, you need to make sure that the router is online.

The router must be connected to the modem and the modem should be connected to a cable or ethernet outlet on the wall.

In case, there is no router and only the modem is present just check that it is connected to the Ethernet port on the wall.

Step 3: Locate the ethernet portals on the router and the computer

Once the router is online and is attached to the modem, you need to look for the ethernet portals on the device and the router.

Locating the ethernet portals will not be a tough job as in most devices and routers it is labeled. The ether portals are normally square and have several other connected boxes near them.

On the router, the ethernet portal will be marked as “LAN” which stands for local area network.

If you are going to connect the cable only with a modem, the portal on the modem will be indicated with “Internet” or “WAN” above it.

If you have figured out the ethernet portals then you can plug in the ethernet cable into the router and computer. This will connect the ethernet cable to the device.

Displaying Ethernet Port to connect an Ethernet cable

Step 4: Get the right accessories in case there is no ethernet portal on your computer

At times it can happen there is no ethernet portal built into the laptop or device with which you want to connect it.

In such cases, you would need to look for an accessory that will provide you with the same function. Many such adapters can convert USB ports to an Ethernet connection, depending on the generation of the USB port.

When buying such a portal take care of the following things-

  • Buy a multi-port adapter for a more comprehensive and wide range of options
  • Make sure that the adapter that you are buying has the port that you need
  • Check the adapter’s compatibility with your computer and the operating system with which you will use it
  • Make a docking station for a more robust and location-specific experience

Step 5: Configure the ethernet settings on the computer

Once the ethernet cable ports have been located and connected, you would need to configure the device’s ethernet settings.

It is best to disable the Wi-Fi network so that the device makes an ethernet connection a priority. To makes the computer settings suitable for the ethernet-

  • You need first go to the start menu. For opening the start menu you can either do it directly by clicking on the windows icon, which is generally located in the bottom left corner of the screen, or by pressing the windows key
  • From the start, the menu finds the ‘settings’ option. Normally you can locate this icon on the bottom-left corner of the start window.
Settings option to Configure Ethernet connection

Step 6: Click on ‘Network and Internet

Once you have located the settings icon, click on it and you will find many options. Among all the options you need to look for the ‘Network and internet option.

Under the ‘Network and internet’ option you will find a category named ‘Ethernet’.

Click on that option, located on the left side of the window, and check if it’s showing ‘connected’ below your network’s name.

In case, it’s not showing that the ethernet is connected, go to related settings and change adapter options.

Displaying Network & Internet options to configure adapter

Step 7: Verify that the internet is working

After you are done with everything, check whether the internet is working or not.

If it’s showing ‘connected’ below your internet network’s name, yet the internet is not working properly, try it with a different ethernet cable or a different port on the router.

Verifying Internet connection for Ethernet

Frequently asked questions

1. What Advantages does Ethernet has over Wi-Fi?

Ethernet cables are more beneficial for desktops and PCs which are in the same place most of the time with little movement.

It will provide a faster, more stable internet connection as it helps to avoid interfering factors with wi-fi like the things blocking the signal, weather, and distance from the router.

2. What factors should be taken into consideration when buying an Ethernet?

When buying an Ethernet cable there are a few things that one has to consider to make sure that the ethernet will be suitable and useful for your network.

Consider the following factors when buying an ethernet cable-

  • Electrical Resistance of the cable- A single ethernet cable will have an upper limit or maximum distance capacity, which indicates the maximum distance an ethernet cable will be able to support the network before the connection is lost. This mainly occurs if the cable does not have high electrical resistance.
  • Network Diameter- To receive signals quickly it is very important that both ends of the cable are close to each other and it should also be at such a distance that there will be no interruptions from external electrical interruptions. Although, this does not limit the  width of the network as hardware such as a router, etc. are capable of joining multiple Ethernet cables on the same network
  • Length of the Ethernet Cable- It is very important to check the length of the ethernet cable that you are willing to buy. If the ethernet cable is not long enough it may suffer from signal reflection. It is best to go for a CAT5 cable which can go to a distance of 100 meters or a CAT6 which can go to a distance of 700 meters.

3. How to choose an Ethernet cable?

The type of ethernet you should buy essentially depends on your network and the length required.

It is recommended to go for Cat5e or Cat6 cables instead of the previous generation Cat5 cables if your network supports Gigabit Ethernet.

A Cat5e or Cat6 can support a maximum data rate of one gigabit per second which is around 1,000 Mbps.

4. What are the alternative options to ethernet cables for computer networking?

The most common alternative to ethernet cables is wireless network technologies like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

These wireless technologies have almost replaced ethernet cables in homes and business networks, as most mobile phones and similar devices do not have a network port.

If the ethernet cable has to run through areas where there are high chances of wire damage, these wireless network options are better options than ethernet cable.

Therefore, connecting an Ethernet cable is considerably a straightforward procedure. It is a great option if your device mostly remains in one place.

In case one does not know how to connect an ethernet cable can follow the step-by-step guide given.

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