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Some RJ45 plugs have an exposed lock release clip, like this:

enter image description here

However, others place the release clip under a rubber cover, like this:

enter image description here

I find that the rubber cover is almost never anything but a nuisance.

  • Does it actually have a function besides being annoying?

  • Can I take a suitable tool and simply cut it off without affecting the cable's function?

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to answer the 2nd question: yes, you can take/cut it off. It's only purpose is to protect the clip underneath (do NOT cut those off ...). A simple cutter cut along its base should do it nicely. –  Olivier Dulac Nov 27 '13 at 17:22
    
I disagree with Olivier... the last cable I clipped the protective cover off will no longer clip into the jack securely. I can't say how, but the cover apparently provided the pressure necessary to force the clip to snap in. –  Michael Nov 27 '13 at 20:21
    
Many a time I have tried to take this out of plug and the actual rubber has saved the plastic to go in my nail and also helped me to know which side the clip was supposed to be even if it was broken. –  Farrukh Subhani Nov 28 '13 at 20:21
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Re: Bounty reason - It is not clear whether cutting of the plastic cap affects performance of the cable, detailed measurements of bandwidth transfer rate and stress testing is required to settle it conclusively. @user77469, What‽ ಠ_ఠ –  Synetech Dec 1 '13 at 4:40
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@user77469 no, there is no reason to perform tests to settle this. The null hypothesis is all we need. There simply is no known physical property or process that would explain why that piece of plastic as described would have any effect on the connection. We can safely revert the default position that it will have no impact whatsoever. –  Zoredache Dec 4 '13 at 20:16
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7 Answers

up vote 112 down vote accepted

From experience, those retention clips break off a lot on the first sort of cables - those are fine for cables that are well protected and/or going to be plugged in and forgotten, but the moment those clips bend the wrong way, they break, and you end up with a cable that dosen't clip in place. They also snag each other sometimes and are just a PITA.

Cable boots (yes thats the proper name for them) keep cables from snagging, those clips from breaking, and generally ensure the cable dies from other things, like rabbit attacks, pruning shear accidents, and backhoe incidents. On the other hand, those cables are not slipping out from their sockets cause a tiny bit of plastic broke, and thats whats important.

Feel free to remove them, or get cables without them, but I personally find them pretty useful (and cables with them tend to be better made in many cases). They have no major structural or electrical purpose.

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In my particular case, it is really in the way when trying to remove the network cable on the back of my PC, to the point that I recently had to unplug quite a few of the cables that were plugged in just to be able to grab hold of the network cable plug to remove it (which was what I wanted). I don't see that cable being exposed to a lot of physical stress, particularly in any direction that might make the clip break off. –  Michael Kjörling Nov 27 '13 at 14:10
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I've got a few broken off cables that say otherwise. Its not the plugged in cables that generally break, its the ones hanging around unplugged in. I've never had a cable thats uncommonly plugged in and out break, its usually ones that are in rotation or in storage that do. If I was going to have cables for say, a desktop, I wouldn't mind either sort. I would prefer the booted sort for one I'm throwing into say, my laptop bag –  Journeyman Geek Nov 27 '13 at 14:14
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+1 for the rabbit attack –  G-. Nov 27 '13 at 15:06
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@MichaelKjörling I've never had a problem pulling a network cable from the back of a PC and am wondering if your system has an unusual io layout. Every one I've seen has put the network cable on the top (if the board was laid down flat) of a port stack with the tab side facing up. This makes it easy for me to grab the cable shortly past the socket while depressing the lock tab with a single finger. Booted or not has never factored into it; the rubber used is soft enough to easily squish down into the tab. –  Dan Neely Nov 27 '13 at 15:43
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@MichaelKjörling OK, I've never had a cable with a boot stiff enough I wasn't able to work it with one finger pressing the boot/tab into the rest of the plug. –  Dan Neely Nov 27 '13 at 15:51
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When retracting a RJ45 plug through narrow tubing or around corners, the clip tends to snap off, effectively making the network cable useless in most environments. The rubber dome (most commonly referred to as a cable boot) nearly always prevents that from happening.

You wouldn't know how many network cables I've seen with broken off clips.

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I'm not planning on pulling through narrow tubing the one-meter cables I have connecting a few different pieces of equipment that are sitting physically right next to each other. So with that caveat, just cutting off the rubber dome shouldn't be a problem? (Best of course would be to get some appropriate cabling that doesn't have it in the first place...) In the narrow spaces particularly on the back of my PC, the rubber dome makes it very difficult to remove the network cable without unplugging half of what's plugged in. –  Michael Kjörling Nov 27 '13 at 14:06
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If you're going to be careful with the cables removing the domes absolutely should not impair their functioning in any way. Some network cables even have removable domes that can be pulled back from the actual plug. Me, I've broken off so many clips even when just untangling or transporting cables that I don't take the risk anymore and just accept the nuisance. :-) –  oKtosiTe Nov 27 '13 at 14:09
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...and man, what a nuisance it is! –  roryap Nov 27 '13 at 15:02
    
@MichaelKjörling: good for you that you don't need it. You can just buy cables which don't have it! But those which have the rubber protection will, like this answer says, prevent many annoying breakage [usually in datacenter environments, where many cables are next to each other and provide many opportunity for the clip to hook-itself-and-break when you pull the cable ...] –  Olivier Dulac Nov 27 '13 at 17:21
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Boots are good, they prevent the latches from getting snapped off later. If you don't like them, don't buy cables with boots. –  MDT Guy Nov 27 '13 at 18:30
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That's an anti-snag boot meant to protect the clip when pulling the cable through other cabling, conduit, and other tight spaces. You can carefully clip it off if you don't care about the anti-snag capability.

There are some other anti-snag styles that can work better in tight locations:

anti-snag RJ45 anti-snag RJ45

I've found that first style works well in our 48 port ethernet switches where the high port density (and awkward location at the top of the rack) can make it hard to press the clip on a traditional anti-snag boot as pictured in the original question. However, since the clip is not fully enclosed, it's not completely immune to snagging, but in practice it's a good compromise between performance and usability.

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It's so that foreign objects don't get under the release clip and rip it off by accident.

Yes, you can cut them off with a Stanley knife or something... I've done it before.

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Surely it stops anyone from applying a flat tool from the back of the RJ allowing the pin to be broken off should you slide up the the cable. It cant hook onto any other cables if in a bunch and cant hook to your clothes. Seeing as it cant move more than lets 30 degrees (with the shoe), the chances of the pin snapping off is alot less. I suspect its purpose is orientated for the everyday use (where a network cable is unplugged constantly).

I personally also find it annoying and would cut it off.

Rather invest in moulded cat 5/6 cables as depicted in your top image

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"the everyday use (where a network cable is unplugged constantly)" - I'm not sure I'd consider this everyday use. I very rarely plug in or unplug network cables and most that I am aware of once plugged in remain plugged in until major moving of stuff occurs. –  Chris Nov 27 '13 at 16:50
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I too find the rubber cover annoying ,but , the problem is that the retention clips tend to break often and the cable boots are good option to prevent it from happening.Once the retention clip breaks off the cables , they tend to slide off the router / modem / switches and make the network unreliable.

My Experience :

I bought two cables a few months ago : One with cable boot (red) and the other (black) without.I mess around with the cables quite a lot and here is a picture of the two I taken for the purpose of illustration when I saw this question:

enter image description here

My point is that the one with cable boots tend to break less often.

enter image description here

Once , the retention clips breaks off , when we plug in the cable to ports they never clicks and they fells off from the port easily.

I personally find the cables with cable boots annoying but on the long run they prove to be useful.I will discourage you from cutting off them since they are useful .But , if you are skeptical and annoyed about the existence of them , you may cut off them since they do not pose any threat to the connection itself.(If you plug the cable in the port and forgets about it , the cable boots may not be of much concern : You surely can break them apart)

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If you are careful in cutting just the top of the boot to give you easy access to tbe clip and you now find the cable won't stay clipped. Assuming the clip is in tact and still has structural integrity, you can carefully pull up on the clip, but only a little bit, to reapply the resistance it needs to keep the cable clipped in to the RJ45 jack.

Just be careful not to pull up too far on the clip or you will break it. I have used that trick to fix cables plenty of times . That is the main purpose for the clip, to offer tension resistance to the RJ45 jack and keep the cable in place.

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protected by nhinkle Dec 1 '13 at 8:15

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