When networks work, they’re great. But when they fail, getting information between computers can be a pain in the neck. Here are a couple of low-cost accessories that can help you turn a “notwork” back into a network.
Create an Instant Network with a Crossover Adapters
If you need to transfer data between two computers, the solution used to be to connect a serial or parallel cable and run a program such as LapLink, MS-DOS Interlink, or Windows Direct Cable Connection. While those solutions worked well in the days of 20MB hard disks, today’s systems need faster connections. But what if all you have is a network cable? What then?
You can build a two-station network with a crossover network cable (one end reverses some of the wire pairs) for data transfer such as Windows Easy Transfer, but if you only need to do this occasionally, it’s a lot cheaper to add a crossover adapter to a network cable you already have than to buy a crossover cable. Figure 8 illustrates a typical crossover adapter.
Figure 8 Connect a crossover adapter like this one to a standard network cable and you can build a two-station network without using a hub, switch, or router.
Expect to pay anywhere from $7 to $20 for a crossover adapter. Be sure to specify a Cat6-compatible crossover adapter if you want to connect two computers with Gigabit Ethernet ports (and be sure to use a Cat5e or Cat6 cable).
Turn Two Short Cables into a Single Long Cable with an Ethernet Coupler
Need a 20-foot Ethernet cable and all you have is a couple of 15-foot cables? Add a coupler like the one shown in Figure 9, and you’re in business. A coupler extends the signals from one cable to the other.
Figure 9 A coupler turns two short Ethernet cables into one longer cable.
Expect to pay anywhere from $4 to $16 for a coupler. Be sure to specify a Cat5e or 6-compatible coupler if you want to support Gigabit Ethernet speeds.