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Vampire tap

(also piercing tap, T-connector)

Vampire tap definition

A vampire tap is a device used to establish a connection to a network cable without cutting or disrupting the cable's data flow. Vampire taps physically pierce the cable's insulation to make contact with the conductors inside, enabling a new connection without interrupting ongoing data transmission. They are often used in legacy networks, like 10BASE5 Ethernet, but have been largely replaced by modern connection methods.

See also: network hub

Vampire tap examples

  • 10BASE5 Ethernet networks: In these early Ethernet networks, vampire taps were used to connect devices to a thick coaxial cable backbone, known as Thicknet.

Vampire tap vs. modern network connections

Modern networks use switches, hubs, and patch panels for connecting devices, providing more efficient and less intrusive methods for establishing connections. These methods avoid the physical damage and potential signal degradation associated with vampire taps.

Pros and cons of vampire taps


  • Non-disruptive: Allows new connections without interrupting data transmission.
  • Legacy support: Provides a means to connect devices in older network systems.


  • Physical damage: Pierces the cable's insulation, potentially causing damage and signal degradation.
  • Limited use: Largely outdated, with modern connection methods offering better alternatives.

Tips for handling vampire taps

When working with legacy networks, ensure that the vampire tap is correctly installed to minimize potential damage to the cable. Keep in mind that vampire taps are not suitable for modern networks, and consider upgrading to a more current networking solution.