Can Ethernet Cables Go Bad?

Last Updated: July 15, 2022By

Yellow ethernet cable on blue surface

Ethernet cables are like nerves. They carry data from one device to another and are mainly used to gain a wire-based Wi-Fi connection to laptops/PCs through Wi-Fi routers.

While these cables restrict you to a small radius around your Wi-Fi router, they are pretty effective in improving the speed and stability of your internet connection- hence their popularity.

Like other hardware equipment, though, these cables, too, have a limited life. In this article, we will discuss the signs you need to look out for to know whether your ethernet cable has gone bad, as well as some caring tips that will help extend its life.

Signs Your Ethernet Cable Has Gone Bad

If you have to deal with one or more of the following issues each time you connect to your Wi-Fi using an ethernet cable, it is likely that your ethernet cable has gone bad.

Unstable Internet Connection/Unexplained Disconnects

If your ethernet cable is faulty, i.e., if it has deteriorated or been cut from somewhere, it will send weak and unstable signals from the Wi-Fi router to your device. Because of this, you will experience either an unstable connection or a very weak one.

You Get a Stable Connection When You Wiggle the Cable

Unstable internet connections don’t prove that your ethernet cable has gone bad- it could simply be that your Wi-Fi router is getting an unstable internet connection.

One way you can check whether your cable is faulty, however, is by using the good-old-fashion wiggle-trick. Wiggle your ethernet cable (especially near the port) to see whether your unstable connection issue goes away. If it does, the cable is faulty; if it doesn’t, it is likely that the problem is from your internet service provider’s end.

The Cable Is Cut From Somewhere

If your cable is damaged/cut from somewhere but still working fine, you should stop using it. It has gone bad, and you need to replace it. Otherwise, you will risk a short circuit.

What Causes Ethernet Cables to Go Bad?

White ethernet cable on hand

Before we take a look at some caring tips that will help improve the life of your ethernet cables, let’s take a look at some of the main causes behind a cable going bad. Some of these things will be beyond your control, but you should try to prevent the ones that aren’t.

The leading causes behind ethernet cables going bad are:

  • Poor quality cables – they’re made of low-quality materials that deteriorate quickly.
  • Exposure to excessive UV radiation
  • Exposure to heat and moisture.
  • Oxidation of the contacts in the connector – happens over time eventually.
  • Cut wires.
  • The plastic coating of the cable wears out.
  • Powerful pulls on the wire.

Care Tips – How to Make Your Ethernet Cables Last Longer

Now that we know what things contribute the most to making ethernet cables go bad, we can prescribe a care treatment to (a) prevent these elements and (b) improve their durability.

Bundle Your Wire Up

There are a lot of accessories out in the market dedicated to organizing tangly wires in your workspace, including wire clips, covers, holders, and straps. Pick any of these items out of your local tech store and bundle your wire up neat and tidy.

This will make your workspace neater and ensure that your wires don’t dangle out from your desk where they run a high risk of getting pulled- and hence damaged.

Ensure That the Length of the Cable Fits Your Needs

One major reason cables (or wires in general) go through a lot of wear and tear is that people get wires whose lengths are inappropriate for their needs. To play it safe, people tend to get wires that are far longer than they require causing the excess to protrude from their work setup or lie on the floor where the wire is constantly stepped upon or pulled by mistake.

To avoid these things, estimating the length of the wire you will need is good practice, and then adding in a few more inches to be safe. Just make sure you don’t overdo it.

Use Cable Ducts/Covers

Wire ducts/covers are a great way to safeguard your wire’s plastic against cuts and damage. These covers not only make your work setup neater and more organized but also improve the durability of your cable’s plastic coating.

Get Good Quality Cables

Do some research before purchasing an ethernet cable for yourself. Pick one from well-known brands instead of pulling out non-branded cables from the store. Non-branded cables are more likely to be made of poor-quality materials and hence will break/cut/deteriorate much faster than branded, high-quality cables.


In conclusion, yes, like any other piece of hardware, ethernet cables eventually deteriorate and lose their functionality. However, there are a couple of practices you can adopt to extend their life and get the most out of your money.