There are dozens of cables used in computer and networking environments. They include the cables used inside a computer, cables that connect computers to a network, and those that connect peripheral devices to a computer. Specialty cables are used for industrial and medical applications and by utility companies. If your job is to purchase cable or figure out your cable needs, start with some basic cabling terminology.
Unshielded twisted pair
Unshielded twisted pair is the cable most frequently used in computer networks. It includes the long cables that make up the backbone of a network as well as the shorter patch cables that connect a computer's network card to a wall jack, or a switch to a patch panel. Unshielded twisted pair ranges from Category 1 to Category 7, with Categories 5 and 6 used for networking. Network cables are made by twisting the pairs in a specific configuration. Cable can be purchased in bulk and cut into segments, or bought in pre-made lengths.
Universal Serial Bus (USB)
Universal Serial Bus (USB) is one of the most common cables used in modern computers. USB has replaced many of the technologies and cables formerly used to connect printers, mice, keyboards and other peripherals.
Several types of cables are used for audio and video configurations in areas such as home theaters, presentations and studio environments. They are also used to connect monitors to computers. They range from old standards like RCA cables, to fiber optic cable, to High-Definition Multimedia Interface cable.
Ribbon cable is used inside computers to connect drives to the system boar, and to link SCSI components. Ribbon cable is flat and contains a row of electrical wires.
Fiber optic cable is used for broadband Internet, cable and telephone utilities and in specialty medical and engineering applications. Fiber optics are thin strands of glass that transmit a digital signal over long distances
Coaxial cable is used primarily by cable and telephone companies and is sometimes used to connect local area networks. Coaxial cable has a copper conductor in the center, with shielding to protect it from interference. It connects with a BNC connector.