can lightning ruin or degrade CAT 5e

  We had lightning get on our network thru our cable connection and I have some computers that cannot connect to the network.  They can when you connect them directly to the switch, so I'm assuming the problem is in the wiring.  The wiring definately worked before the storm, so my question is can lightning ruin or degrade cat5e networking performance?  Also, is there a tester on the market that will rate the condition of my wires, my current tester only shows me a light for each pair of wires.  

Also, it is ok to use Cat 5e for gigabit ethernet as long as I have all four pairs of wires connected right?  or do I need to upgrade to cat6 anyway?

If I do have to replace these wires because of the storm, is there any real advantage to using cat6 or plenum cable?

Thanks in advance.
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Lightning could definitely damage the cat5e, it could melt the wires or damage the insulation and shielding, although I would be suprised if the cable was damaged, but not the devices on either end of the cable...
Cat5e is fine for gigabit, but only for relatively short runs. Cat6 will allow longer runs at gigabit speed.
Hope this helps,
It is unlikely that lighting can ruin an indoor cable plant, but I've seen odder things happen..
Get a good fluke meter.. they are the industry standard, but very expensive...

Gigabit over copper standard is Cat5e
Cat6 is overkill and more expensive
There is no real advantage of Cat6
Plenum cable is required if running horizontal cable through plenum (air) ducts. Plenum ducts are air ducts that either feed AC into the premesis or take air out. Plenum is the wrapper around the cable and it does not give off the poisonous fumes that regular PVC-clad cable does. It's a fire code thing...

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jdroger2Author Commented:
Thanks lrmoore.  I looked at the products that you linked.   I dont think I can afford even the linkrunner..  I think the most I want to spend is like $200 or $250.  Lemme tell you what I want and maybe you can tell me if there is something in my budget:  (I looked around at cdw and dont know enough of the terminology to tell what is what)

jdroger2Author Commented:
oops.. anyway,
  1. Test each pair for connectivity
  2. Test if the standard is met (ie anything crossed over)
  3. Test for realistic network speed capable, ie 1000 and duplex
  4. Let me know if any interference or crimps are limiting my bandwidth.
  5. would be neat if device also tested for wireless lan :) but not a must

Something like this is about as good as you're going to get for your budget

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