When someone says “ethernet” they are usually referring to standard ethernet patch cords. A standard patch cord is the most common type of ethernet and used for connecting different devices together. However, standard patch cords (also called straight-thru cords) can only connect different devices. If you need to connect a computer to something different like a modem or printer, they work fine. But if you need to connect two computers, two network switches, or any other identical electronics, you will need a crossover cable instead.

Crossover vs. Straight-Thru (Standard)

To understand the difference, we start by looking at the way ethernet cables are wired. Each cable has eight smaller wires called conductors on the inside. There are different ways to line up the conductors with the pins on RJ45 connectors, but the industry standard is T-568A and T-568B. Most cables manufactured today use the T-568B version, but some older cables with the T-568A version are still around. A straight-thru cable will use the same wiring scheme on both sides of the cable to send and receive data.

An RJ45 ethernet port can send and receive signals, allowing computers and other electronics “talk” and “listen” to each other when they transmit data through the conductors. Different devices use different conductors for talking and listening, which works fine with straight-thru cables. But when two of the same device are connected, they both try to talk and listen through the same line. Two computers, for example, may both use conductor #3 to “talk” (send data) instead of one side sending and the other side receiving. This causes the signals to cancel each other out and fail.

Crossover cables are able to get around this issue by using a different wiring scheme on each side of the cable. Typically, modern crossover cables use T-568A on one side and T-568B on the other. This means that a signal could start on conductor #1 when it is sent but come in on conductor #3 when it is received. Using two different pin layouts ensures that none of the signals are colliding and blocking each other. Because of this different wiring scheme, crossover ethernet cannot be used for a regular Internet signal when connecting two different devices. Be sure not to get straight-thru and crossover mixed up when picking out a cable.

Crossover Uses

Simply put, crossover cables are used to transfer data between two computers. This can be done by directly connecting two computers or through other devices like network switches or hubs. While there are other ways of transferring data between two computers, they are a bit more complex than crossover ethernet.

  • USB cables can be used for the same thing, but have a much shorter distance limit.
  • Hard drives can be removed from a computer and connected with a SATA cable but this requires a lot more set-up.
  • Computers with built-in Wifi can transfer data wirelessly through a network, but data transfer rates are much slower wirelessly than on a hardline.

If you cannot get your hands on a crossover cable and find yourself in a pinch, these other options are all perfectly reasonable alternatives. But between crossover cables being so much more effective and how inexpensive they are, there is typically no reason not to use them.

Buy Your Crossover Ethernet Cables Today

ShowMeCables offers crossover ethernet in standard Cat5e, as well as Cat6 for people who like a faster cable. Both options have a few different color choice for easy color-coding projects. These stock cables range from 1’ to 100’ with custom lengths available as well.

Each cable is tested to federally regulated standards to ensure quality and backed up by warranty. Have questions? You can reach our Sales team at 888-519-9505 or Sales@ShowMeCables.com