We are all familiar with black and white films where the stars needed to be patched through to one another by an operator. But whether one believes it or not there are people out there who enjoy the thought of working on all things technical. One of these things is a patch panel, which on the surface looks a lot like a switch board only there is a difference; they are used for very different things. Quite simply they look exactly like a normal panel with short cables plugged in to the front of it and longer cables plugged into the back.
These generally remind people of an old fashioned telephone switchboard, with bits of cable sticking out from the front and back of it. Even today the patch panel is used for making telephone connection. However, these patch panels are now mainly used for data transfer and audio and visual applications. Much more than just a board with lots of cables sticking out of it, these panels have different types of electrical connectors as well.
An example of these electrical connectors is a breakout box that has individual connectors on the front of it which then has a compound connector on the back where all of the cables plug into. Not all breakout boxes have an even number of individual connectors, though some may have an even number. With the diversity of the patch panel, it comes as no surprise then that they are also used in computer Local Area Network (LAN) connection. These are used with the LAN to connect the computers of a network to communicate with the internet and to each other. They can also be used to connect the LAN to a Wide Area Network (WAN).
Most companies these days utilise some form of patch panel to connect their computers between each other or between server machines. But what many of these individuals may not know is that they could be restricting the effectiveness of their network by having inappropriate or ineffective connections leading to their patch panels.