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Thread: Replace cat5e with cat6?

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    Replace cat5e with cat6?

    About 5 years ago, I ran cat5e through the house. The main run is about 250' (to snake from the crawl space patch panel area to the family room). There are then smaller runs, but this is the one I'm most curious about right now.
    It was run with cat5e solid UTP that I bought at Home Depot.

    My setup has a Synology 4 Bay NAS drive on one end and a MacMini on the other. The Mini uses the NAS as a storage server. There are lots of reasons for this set up, but the point is that.
    With that setup, moving files from one to the other was about 8-10MB/sec.
    Recently, I moved the NAS drive to sit next to the Mini, connected at a 5 port Gigabit switch.
    Obviously, those speeds are closer to what you'd expect with cat5e, ~30MB/sec.
    So, I think I did a pretty good job running the cable and connecting to the jacks. I used Leviton QuickConnect cat5e wall jacks as terminators. (A former stage electrician and framing carpenter, I'm handy enough to be trouble)

    So, I'm wondering if the length of the run might be better served by cat6 cable in the same place?
    The cables currently run, in parts, in near proximity to electrical lines, etc, so I'm not sure if that's more of a factor than the cable type. Given the multitude of potential influences on such a situation, I know it's not an exact science, just wanted to ask though.

    Thanks all

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    Administrator Scott DeLeeuw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Spicer View Post
    About 5 years ago, I ran cat5e through the house. The main run is about 250' (to snake from the crawl space patch panel area to the family room). There are then smaller runs, but this is the one I'm most curious about right now.
    It was run with cat5e solid UTP that I bought at Home Depot.

    My setup has a Synology 4 Bay NAS drive on one end and a MacMini on the other. The Mini uses the NAS as a storage server. There are lots of reasons for this set up, but the point is that.
    With that setup, moving files from one to the other was about 8-10MB/sec.
    Recently, I moved the NAS drive to sit next to the Mini, connected at a 5 port Gigabit switch.
    Obviously, those speeds are closer to what you'd expect with cat5e, ~30MB/sec.
    So, I think I did a pretty good job running the cable and connecting to the jacks. I used Leviton QuickConnect cat5e wall jacks as terminators. (A former stage electrician and framing carpenter, I'm handy enough to be trouble)

    So, I'm wondering if the length of the run might be better served by cat6 cable in the same place?
    The cables currently run, in parts, in near proximity to electrical lines, etc, so I'm not sure if that's more of a factor than the cable type. Given the multitude of potential influences on such a situation, I know it's not an exact science, just wanted to ask though.

    Thanks all
    Hi Sam, good questions.

    You said the run is about 250', how close to that number do you think you are? Cat5x should be good to about 100m and a length of cable 250' should not drop the throughput that dramatically. Even at the 30MB/sec, that's a little bit slower than I'd expect from a Synology, but you didn't specify which model it was?

    How are you getting the throughput numbers? Is it with the same test file each time? What is the intermediary for the connection between the Mini and the NAS with the 250' cable, I assume there's a switch in there? You may want to test throughput through that switch as well.

    One silly question, when you bared the cable to connect to the Leviton jacks, how far did you unwrap them? Twisted pair cable can be affected if the insulation is removed and the cables untwisted more than necessary.

    Do you have a Windows laptop or PC that you could run LAN Speed test on and get some consistent numbers?
    Check out the Home Network Articles and tell me what you would like to see!

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    Hi Scott, thanks for the response. I'll try and answer as best I can.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott DeLeeuw View Post
    You said the run is about 250', how close to that number do you think you are? Cat5x should be good to about 100m and a length of cable 250' should not drop the throughput that dramatically. Even at the 30MB/sec, that's a little bit slower than I'd expect from a Synology, but you didn't specify which model it was?
    Not sure of the exact length, I can break out the tape tonight for a more exact guestimate. However, as I think about it though, I'd probably say that 250' is a generous estimate, probably no more than that and probably a lot less. The Synology is a DS411j with 3 2TB drives in a RAID5 config. I'm sure the RAID5 is knocking down performance, but I'd be happy with even closer to 30MB/sec with the security of RAID5.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott DeLeeuw View Post
    How are you getting the throughput numbers? Is it with the same test file each time?
    Yes, I've looked around for testing software, but it seems something of a black magic so the test file seemed the best way to go.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott DeLeeuw View Post
    What is the intermediary for the connection between the Mini and the NAS with the 250' cable, I assume there's a switch in there? You may want to test throughput through that switch as well.
    Here are the two configurations for wires (all cables are manufactured patch cables besides the main run).

    Original config (~8-10MB/sec):
    NAS -- 3' cat5e -- Netgear GS108 Switch -- 3' cat5e -- Leviton QuickConnect jack/~250' cat5e line/Leviton QuickConnect jack -- 10' cat5e -- Netgear GS105 Switch -- 3' cat5e -- Mini

    Faster config (~30MB/sec):
    NAS -- 3' cat5 -- Netgear GS105 Switch -- 3' cat5e -- Mini

    The reason I do the longer config is that the NAS then sits in the crawl space with the cable modem, windows server and other things best hidden. Besides, much cooler in there as opposed to in the shorter run it sits in an entertainment cabinet which, though fan cooled, is less than ideal. (Besides, it blinks blue/green LEDs like it's the bridge of TOS Enterprise! But, I digress...)

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott DeLeeuw View Post
    One silly question, when you bared the cable to connect to the Leviton jacks, how far did you unwrap them? Twisted pair cable can be affected if the insulation is removed and the cables untwisted more than necessary.
    However far I unwrapped them, I snugged them up, pushed in the cable, and then snipped excessive cable from the push point out, so there wasn't a whole lot hanging off the back of the jack.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott DeLeeuw View Post
    Do you have a Windows laptop or PC that you could run LAN Speed test on and get some consistent numbers?
    I do, and will grab it (http://www.totusoft.com/lanspeed.html correct?) tonight and do some fiddling and report back.

    Thanks again for the sounding board and thoughts.

    Cheers,
    Sam

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    Administrator Scott DeLeeuw's Avatar
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    That's the right URL, run some tests on that tonight and let's go from there!
    Check out the Home Network Articles and tell me what you would like to see!

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    I'll go into more detail tomorrow but it would appear to be the 8 port gigabit switch that was the culprit. I had a spare 5 port sitting around and swapped it out after some tests. Boom, speed.
    Mind you it's in the 26-30MB range for writes and mid 30MB for reads. The LAN Speed Tester is awesome, very handy.
    You mentioned speed to that NAS being a little slow. To temper my expectations, what "should" a good throughput be for something like this?

    Thanks for making me slow down and methodically troubleshoot. (as a coder, I should have known better )

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    Ok, last post. I went ahead and got LST Server. After swapping out the switch, I think the network is good
    Thanks again for the sounding board!
    Test.png

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    Administrator Scott DeLeeuw's Avatar
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    Great news, those numbers look fantastic! Great troubleshooting, I've gone down many rat holes myself doing the hardest items first and completely overlooking the easy and obvious ones.
    Check out the Home Network Articles and tell me what you would like to see!

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