Introduction: Repair a Broken Ethernet Plug

Picture of Repair a Broken Ethernet Plug

The locking tab of RJ45 plugs breaks very easily. Replace it by two nylon cable ties (aka zip ties), in minutes.

- This must be regarded as a temporary "Mac Gyver" solution, for home usage.
- Definitely not for IT staff! (no crimper? asking for one in the budget won't get you fired!)
- Before the tab breaks, consider protecting the plug.

Step 1: On Broken RJ45 Locking Tabs...

Picture of On Broken RJ45 Locking Tabs...

There are always some Ethernet cables around with a broken tab. Did you remember to exchange the cable?

Now the RJ45 plug no longer locks properly, making the connection unreliable. You firmly push the plug into the socket, hurray you're connected again! so you forget about the plug until the next lost connection some weeks later, wasting a long time to figure out that it's this damn broken plug again. And so on.

Now it's time to act and grab your RJ45 crimp tool. Oh, you don't have one? Or you're reluctant to use it? so read on...

Step 2: Needed Stuff

Picture of Needed Stuff
  • Cable tie tool (optional)
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting pliers

  • TWO CABLE TIES (small size)
They are true heroes of this instructable.
Their exact size matters, this is discussed in the next step.

Step 3: Find the Right Size of Cable Ties

Picture of Find the Right Size of Cable Ties

The head of the cable ties must have the proper width to snap into the socket, and be easily released.

To test, insert the head into the socket as shown in the first picture below. It should snap.

Then gently pull the cable tie. You should feel some resistance.

I measured a head width of 4.3mm.

Step 4: Cut the Cable Tie #1 to Length

Picture of Cut the Cable Tie #1 to Length

Cut approx 4.5 cm (1.8 inches).

Step 5: Make Its Head Thin

Picture of Make Its Head Thin

With the sharp knife, and preferably on a piece of scrap material, cut the head of the cable tie, to make it flat.

Step 6: Bend the Cable Tie #1

Picture of Bend the Cable Tie #1

Bend it as shown.

Step 7: Use the Cable Tie #2

Picture of Use the Cable Tie #2

With the second cable tie, tighten the first one.

Step 8: Done (Almost)

Picture of Done (Almost)

Now it looks funny. Is that meant to work? Read on...

Step 9: Tune It

Picture of Tune It

Tune the position and bends of the cable tie #1, so that it acts as a spring.

Step 10: Now, Use It !

Picture of Now, Use It !

Insert the repaired plug as shown.

You should get this beloved "click" noise again!


DaveS306 (author)2017-11-22

I would like to mention a dirtier hack:

Place a peice of elctrical tape on the top of the ethernet plug so that it covers the top and sides of the flat area.

This will make the non-clip connection snug.

It isn't perfect, but works in most household situation ;)

cidou10 made it! (author)2017-10-17

I made it ! thanks. i'm IT and i've a lot of broken plugs. i'm not sure to really use it but it can help. My boss was impressed :)

KeithG56 (author)2017-07-11

Excellent - worked a treat! :)

AyanA3 made it! (author)2016-08-12

Thanks! It actually works!

doug28sp made it! (author)2016-07-25

Done! Thanks!!!

donny011 (author)2016-07-09

genius pure genius brilliant it works perfectly, took about 7 min, i copied your steps picture by picture no problems .i dont know what all the fuss about cutting the lug of the cable tie was about, mine sliced off in two cuts . a note for those who used elastic bands ,they will fall apart in a few weeks as the rubber perishes with uv , heat and air, no luck there then!! plus with the added bonus of not checking the cable when the internet connection drops because you fixed it with a band

dosbert (author)2016-03-11

Great idea! My test cables thank you.

SimoneL17 (author)2016-02-21

Great idea. Thanks ?

Khan Baba (author)2015-10-24

very good idea :-D

MarkC14 (author)2015-01-27

I had an occasion to use this instructable tonight and found that three refinements were necessary for the repair to work properly and in sharing them below it is my hope that others will at least give this solution a try because it is a clever option and I would not have thought of it were it not for this site. That said, let's dive in.

1. First, the need to make the zip tie head thinner is necessary and without question, however, the process by which you do it is important. I found that for the zip ties I had it was not possible to use an exacto or disposable precision blade because the plastic was too hard. I ended up using a large butcher knife and a kitchen chopping block. PLEASE use caution when doing this. Take careful note of where your fingers are before cutting. If you have smaller hands or are at all unsure about your ability to do this, get an adult or someone with strong, steady hands to do it for you.

2. Next, it is extremely unlikely that the thinning of the head with a knife will be precise enough. I found it easier and more precise to refine the thinning process with a metal nail file. The one I used has a black plastic handle about 1.25 inches long and the metal file portion is about 2 inches. They are available in the beauty section of any popular store like Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Target, etc.

The thickness must be such that the zip tie head does not stick up above the RJ45 connector when in place. I found it easier to keep the nail file still in one hand while moving the zip tie head back and forth across it.

When the thickness is precisely the same height as the top of the RJ45 connector, the next step is to cut the head of the zip tie to a shorter length, perhaps in half. This is because the point of the "click" which secures the connector in the jack is quite a precise location and my zip tie head was just too long thus causing the notch to be too far back and not click. Use the nail file to file the end square and smooth.

3. Lastly, I found that using a small rubber band around the connector under the zip tie will provide a better spring action. An additional rubber band around the cable and zip tie on the cable area behind the connector entirely will provide additional support and finally about a half inch behind that is where I put the zip tie to hold it all tight. This makes three points (see pictures) where the modified zip tie is held to the cable and this is important because any side to side movement will cause the "click" to fail and the connector to come out of the jack.

Caution: As stated by the author of this instructable, this is a temporary repair and certainly is not something you'd want to do in a business environment for more than a short time period. For the home user, however, it should suffice. However, there are certain jacks where this fix may not be suitable; for example if the jack is hard to access or is where the connector will be the only thing holding the cable in the jack. For the latter, some sort of strain relief rigging is required either with a piece of string or wire holding the cable up or some type of clever cable management. This would most likely occur if the repaired end of the cable was connected to a switch or router mounted on a wall or in a rack. But that's for another article!

Feedback: Some commenters here have suggested that the better solution is to cut off the broken connector altogether and replace it with a new one. Respectfully, this is not always feasible. Having been a network administrator for over a decade, I've run into several situations where an "in the field" repair was the only option.

laxap (author)MarkC142015-10-09

Thank you for this very detail feedback and for a very effective variation with rubber band.

BassB1 (author)2015-08-17

laxap (author)2015-07-25

"Approx 1.8 inches" could be best translated to 2 inches ;-)

hammy434 (author)2015-04-27

It's unusual to see the same comment posted 4 times.

AnonU (author)hammy4342015-07-25

Not if the web page is not working properly... but it is not unusual to see a clever online comment from a prig.

nerd7473 (author)hammy4342015-07-22

Probably lag, I've done the same thing because the Internet was slow and I kept spamming...

joshsh (author)2015-04-25

What a neat trick. It only takes a few minutes, and really holds in the cable until you press to release, just like the original tab. Having also to press the neck of the tie when inserting the plug is only a minor inconvenience. Like others, I found the zip tie plastic too hard for a small knife, so I used a pair of flush wire cutters, which were convenient for fine-tuning the thickness of the head.

AnonU (author)2015-04-03

It's unusual to see decimal values when using English measurements, so
1.8 inches would be better translated as 1 and 13/16 inches.

AnonU (author)2015-04-03

It's unusual to see decimal values when using English measurements, so 1.8 inches would be better translated as 1 and 13/16 inches.

AnonU (author)2015-04-03

It's unusual to see decimal values when using English measurements, so 1.8 inches would be better translated as 1 and 13/16 inches.

ShwetaV (author)2015-03-28

thank you so much.!!!!! it works perfect... actually I had only one zip tie so in replace of second tie I used rubber band and it works perfectly and it takes only 10 minutes to fix it.... thank you so much again and again it was very helpful for me....

ronald.dsouza.942 (author)2015-03-15

Perfect. It was some delicate work to cut the cable to the size. But it fitted and works perfectly (actually my son, 12 years, did the final work). Thanks for the good idea!

lmlei (author)2011-09-14

Can people that tried this way confirm if its safe for my laptop...? I LOVE the idea i just hope its safe to use haha

Rybka30 (author)lmlei2011-10-23

I used it for few months... and then PC engineer said me it can break ethernet card in computer... i dunno how, but he said it can... :/

ElectroFrank (author)Rybka302015-02-06

There are just a few engineer/technicians etc that make their best profit by selling you the new part that you don't really need. Just a few.

mmykle (author)Rybka302011-10-24

It can only break the port if you misjudge the how small to cut the ziptie. If it is too big the cable will get stuck in the port. However in most cases you should be able to get it out by sliding a knife in between the ziptie and the ethernet port.

ThanassisK (author)2015-01-22

The cost of RJ45 plugs is less than €0,10 so it is better to change the plug.

It needs 10 minutes if you are not doing that every day

CarolynC2 (author)2015-01-21

Or check out the RJCLIP.

CarolynC2 (author)2015-01-21

CHEAPEST AND EASIEST FIX. Slip a RUBBER BAND all the way under the plug clip if the locking plasticclip is cracked but not broken off. The rubber band will lift the inner non-broken part of the clip just enough for you to hear or feel the click when it locks in place. You can remove the plug by pressing down on the clip and rubber band as usual.

This works for a SEMI-PERMANENT FIX, in case you rarely re-insert the plug, to avoid having the cable plug annoyingly disengage when you accidently move the cable or router, especially when you are unaware of it.

ebasir (author)2014-11-30

Problem solved! We are not big fans of wireless networking. A broken plug is a big inconvenience. Fixing it saved us alot of money and frustriation. Great photos. Thank you very much.

michael.raiola.71 (author)2014-10-19

I don't know what everyone is going on about, this took me 20 minutes max and it works perfectly. :)

Boygasmo (author)2014-07-07

I couldn't cut the head bit, as it is tough as nails. I tried with pair of sheers but it only made it uneven. So I took on another tip, tape the sides of the plug and it should make it snug. Works just fine.

roseuz (author)2012-05-27

Ah!!!!!!!!!! What a waste of time and disappointment. I wish I could be as positive as the others, but sorry, that's just not the case. I tried this, which took probably at least an hour with the cutting the head of the tie being the longest. It cracked to the top, but I managed to change the direction of the cut to get it even and finish the job. I also super-glued it and wiped off any excess. It eventually cracked again though.

Once I finally reached the last step, I am able to put it into my Ethernet port, but sometimes must fidget with it to get it pushed in all the way so that when I tug on it I can feel resistance. The second thing that bothered me the most is that it's too difficult to get out and I usually have to pull out my Ethernet cord as I have a non wireless printer that's not in my room and this would frustrate me every time I have to take the cord out.

I guess the easiest and fastest solution, would be to buy a coupler as someone else suggested and a one foot cord and tape the damaged end of the cord into the coupler.

glenneroo (author)roseuz2014-05-16

Absolutely agree! The idea is good, but I just spent an hour trying this with various cable-ties and I have to say, the cable is better off without this "fix". I just bought a RJ45 coupler and added another cable.

laxap (author)glenneroo2014-05-16

Sorry for the waste of time... but you have been warned by the important note in the intro. You shall consider this fix as a curiosity.

blueonion (author)2013-11-20

I've found super gluing a $3 inline coupler to be easier and more flexible.

N.Khan (author)2013-10-28

dude you totally rock! :v

redfoxtrystman (author)2013-08-05

Thank you thank you and thank you so much. Almost every plug I have is broken and I was about to go buy new ends and recrimp them. Now I don't have to.

jarvallmighty (author)2013-07-13

Love this. This seems like you would want this at the dedicated end,
correct ? Or is this a remedy that works for repeated plug in and unplug uses?

Doncans (author)2013-06-13

ingeniosamente simple y espectacularmente útil


ljuwana (author)2013-05-17

nice simple

x burn (author)2013-04-23

really brilliant

Fat Aido (author)2013-03-14

I am in love with you man! xxx

softenersreviews (author)2013-03-02

Great job on the ties!

dmesser (author)2012-06-06

This might be fine s a temporary fix. But seriously, just crimp on a new end. They're as cheap as cheap as pull-ties, and you won't have to fiddle with getting the cuts just right. Any home improvement store carries the crimper and ends.

mmcpherson4 (author)2010-01-28

MUAHAHAH!!! NEVER will I EVER be disconnected from Xbox Live because of that cursed cable!!! :D Thanks a bunch dude! 

hunter999 (author)mmcpherson42012-01-24

same here dude - no getting booted from cod or gears!

socalsmiley (author)mmcpherson42011-12-30

haha same exact reason im doing this!

Lawrence.Frewin (author)2012-01-24

An excellent fix for an all too common problem. Saved me hours of laying new cables or renewing connectors. A simple and annoyingly obvious fix once you have seen it done once.

eddles777 (author)2012-01-05

thanks mate for showing this. i applied to to my own cat-5 cable and also used the same application modified for my old telephone wire cable.

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