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Cable Management To Defeat Clutter?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the why-not-just-use-wireless-versions dept.

Networking 323

igny writes "I have just recently cleaned up my home office, reducing the clutter, but I could not come up with a neat solution to my cable problem. I believe my cable usage is even below average for a slashdotter, but still I have three computers with a bunch of ethernet and power cables, two cellphones, video and photo cables, with several proprietary chargers/AC adapters, printer, two NASes with a couple of external drives, phone, audio system, routers/switches, modem ... Everything requires cables of different kinds. I believe that AC adapters still draw some power even with no device hooked to it. So I organized my power cables by usage with several power strips to turn off adapters which I use less frequently. I am asking for advice from experienced slashdotters. How do you cope with your cable problem? Do you use dedicated tables, shelves, armoire for the cables? I am still looking for a neat, efficient, and safe (I have small kids) solution."

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Suggestion (-1, Offtopic)

maxrate (886773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28788879)

go wireless

Re:Suggestion (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789247)

I agree. The only thing messier than a cables is cunt hair. Shaved pussy FTW.

Wires? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28788887)

What the hell are these "wires" that you speak of?

Hide them all (5, Funny)

rodrigovr (1396497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28788913)

You will feel more comfortable if you don't see all those cables

Re:Hide them all (4, Funny)

Forge (2456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789377)

I don't know about you, but I love my cables.

I keep them in full view. Deliberately disorganizing them in such a manner that any other mortal would be speechless with confusion if he tried to find his way around my home office.

unfortunately for me, my 3 year old is no ordinary mortal. He can always find exactly the correct cable to unplug to create the maximum possible chaos. So now I am hiding them behind a closed door.

Belink Conceal or the like (5, Informative)

RajivSLK (398494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789389)

Seriously a good idea. I got a bunch of these []

They are great, I have just one box on the floor under my desk, easy to sweep around, doesn't collect dust and looks tidy.

Plastic or Velcro zip ties (2, Insightful)

mouseblue (1602125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28788917)

Velcro ones might lose grip after a while but those worked for me. Or cheap garbage bag twist ties are ok. You can usually collect them from bagged loaves of bread.

Re:Plastic or Velcro zip ties (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789259)

I like the reusable zip ties for smaller cables, they don't last forever, but it seems to take a fair number of reattachments before they break. For larger ones and for bundles of smaller cables, I like to use cable clamps. Or for real temporary managment, you can always use some masking tape, it's not as environmentally friendly, but it does work pretty effectively.

Personally the bigger issue I have is having the interest to redo the work every time I've shuffled things about.

idea (4, Informative)

anglico (1232406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28788919)

I used to deliver to a company in santa cruz county that made a lightweight plastic hose with a slit down the middle to insert all the cables into. So instead of a bunch of different cables you just had one big 'hose' running through your room. It was a more organized look, sorry I can't remember the name of the company but you can probably modify something to do the same thing.

Re:idea (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789069)

I use these to run my cable up the shelves being my desk. There is an easy place to get all of the declutter stuff you need. It's called Home Depot.

great place! (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789237)

There is an easy place to get all of the declutter stuff you need. It's called Home Depot.

I agree; my house is cluttered with items I got at Home Depot!

Re:idea (5, Informative)

redphive (175243) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789099)

split loom tubing is what you are talking about. You can buy (albeit more expensive) from automotive supply stores in a variety of colours and sizes, or from telecom suppliers.

Re:idea (5, Informative)

Avidiax (827422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789123)

Ikea has something like this called Rabalder ( I used it for my media center and it looks alot nicer having one thick silver cable going to the Plasma TV on the wall than a mess of smaller cables. The zip ties included are reversible.

Re:idea (1)

syntheticmemory (1232092) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789219)

I got them after my working cocker spaniel busily chewed the cable to my trackman during a client meeting.

Re:idea (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789455)

It's even better, when your hose is slit down in a spiraling fashion. This makes it more flexible and the cable can come out of any side. and you then can stick the end of one part into the branching point of the other, and thereby make them stay together. These things can be bought ready-made at some big computer or electric stores.

Re:idea (1)

proslack (797189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789457)

Dirt cheap foam pipe insulation [] from Home Depot. Works like a charm.

Re:idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789529)

I used to deliver to a company in santa cruz county that made a lightweight plastic hose with a slit down the middle to insert all the cables into.

Maybe google "DIY cable management for ideas. I recently read an Instructables or Maker Magazine article where the author bought some vinyl rain gutter for this. In his case, he had a single long table with his electronics on it.

He suspended the guttering under the table using some kind of hooks which went through the stiffeners/hangers that go across the gutters. I'd be more inclined to just trim off any unneeded "under the shingles" flashing and screw the stuff directly to the back of the table, if it's thick enough.

If you have a lot of cabling, the things that stretch across the gutter to keep it from sagging away from the building might still be needed.

You may then be able to get away with only one or two power strip cords descending from the gutter. If your wall outlet is in the middle of the arrangement, just cut a groove or a large hole to let them lead neatly down to the outlet.

FWIW, I've seen a similar type of arrangement used in computer classes where there are a number of computer stations spread along a long table. It's quite neat with all the cables running lengthwise along a metal channel. Easy to sweep the floor, too, since there's nothing dragging on the ground and no rat's nest visible from counter-top height. Not to mention cheap.

The stuff comes in ten-foot lengths. If you have a longer table than that, there are joiner pieces to chain them together. If you have multiple shorter tables, the gutter cuts neatly to length with a hacksaw, End fittings are also available for ultra-tidiness.

easy way if you dont have to many cables (0)

dezent (952982) | more than 5 years ago | (#28788937)

I just use my laptop, use a shoebox for the cables for adsl modem. put an extension cord inside the shoebox, all adapters cables etc inside the box, let wires hang out from a hole in the box.

Two words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28788939)

Zip Ties

Velcro strips (4, Informative)

kmahan (80459) | more than 5 years ago | (#28788943)

Velcro strips to bundle the cables work quite well (IMHO). The desk furniture I use (ikea) has room between the desk frame and the surface to thread the velcro strips through to hold it close under the desk.

I've used velcro in racks too -- very convenient when you are constantly changing cabling.

Re:Velcro strips (1)

roscivs (923777) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789105)

Ditto to this. I've tried a lot of other cable management solutions, and none of them have worked as consistently well as a bunch of simple velcro strips. (Get lots of them, because once you discover how useful and versatile they are you'll be putting them everywhere.)

Re:Velcro strips (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789185)

It is also difficult to over tighten velco and damage the cable like you can do with zip ties.

Re:Velcro strips (5, Informative)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789241)

I use velcro strips in our house, too. Very handy for cable neatness!

One thing I'll mention here: my wife is an avid gardener, so one day when I ran out of velcro strips (brazenly taken from work years ago, when we retired a bunch of servers) my wife gave me her velcro spool that she uses to tie back the roses.

It's cheap: only $4 from most garden centers. [] Just cut the length you need, depending on the size of the cable bundle, or what you're attaching it to. Compare that $4 for 45 feet [] of green velcro to buying "custom" pre-cut velcro strips from most PC suppliers, which would run about $20 for the equivalent length.

Just as Alton Brown [] often recommends shopping at the hardware store for many cooking supplies, I might recommend stopping by the garden store to get velcro strips.

Re:Velcro strips (1)

onescomplement (998675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789685)

No unitaskers in my toolkit! Never overlook the power of nylon tie wraps for bundling stuff up either. Cheap to make mistakes with. Second that about the "gardening" hook and loop . I bought some to tie back the Dahlias and said "darn, this would work great for other stuff." The best part is that it does not stick as tenacioiusly as standard hook and loop stuff so when you're standing on your head trying to untie something it's not nearly as annoying. Just cut off a bunch, wind it in a tight spiral to overlap 3/4 of the layer below, voila. If you put a drop of super-runny CA glue (get it at hobby shops) in the right place, it becomes a lot more permanent. Need to be careful not to glue the cable casing unless that's what you wanted but it works.

Re:Velcro strips (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789727)

Keep in mind that to children under the age of, oh, I don't know, thirty, velcro strips are some of the most amazing toys ever made. Expect to have them stripped off of your cables and laid out on the floor the moment someone finds out you've got them.

Do it yourself! (2, Interesting)

Steegest (1317083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28788949)

I would recommend you design and build your own desk. Nothing beats being able to locate features fit to your own requirements and workspace. Mmmmm cables and oak.

Re:Do it yourself! (5, Informative)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789003)

I've always wanted to try the "pegboard under your desk" arrangement. It sounds like a functional solution to keep the clutter under the desk, not on top of it. []

Of course, I'd have to get off my lazy ass to give it a shot so I'm not holding out hope of it happening any time soon...

Re:Do it yourself! (2, Informative)

harrkev (623093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789355)

For those who do NOT want to build their own desk...

As far as arranging items, I got a bunch of cheap $3.00 stacking paper trays from my local office supply store. I then cut/drilled/dremmeled holes in the back to run cables. I now have four paper trays that hold: NAS box (biggest, on bottom), small KVM switch, 8-port ethernet hub, 4-port MIDI interface, router, audio mixer, and a cable modem. An extra 5th tray on the top even holds paper. It is a pain to get to the cables if you have to re-arrange something, but it makes my desk look a LOT neater.

The plastic can be brittle, so work slowly, and the plastic "dust" can be messy, so mark inside your house, but cut outside.

As for the cables, Velcro ties are your friend. You can put them on and off easily, which is key if you ever need to rearrange things.

As for my synthesizer (keyboard), that has a power cable, two MIDI cables, and two audio cables. For that, I used spiral wrap (available at Radio Shack) to keep the cables bundled (D.I.Y. snake). I cannot imagine having to replace any of those cables any time so, so spiral wrap is perfect. It works with ANY size cable. The only down side is that spiral wrap is a pain to put on, but the results are worth it.

Confused (2, Interesting)

indre1 (1422435) | more than 5 years ago | (#28788961)

I don't get it - you have all those devices in one room that you're having cable problems?

Re:Confused (2, Insightful)

Omniscient Lurker (1504701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789267)

Even one computer has lots of cables.

One Computer:
  1. Computer Tower Power Cable
  2. Monitor Power Cable
  3. Monitor VGA Cable
  4. Keyboard Cable
  5. Mouse Cable

Extras for the computer that I have

  1. Speaker Cable, which splits into 2)
  2. USB Hub Cable (I have 2 usb ports, 1 in front 1 in back)
  3. USB Hub Power Cable
  4. Printer Power Cable
  5. Printer USB cable
  6. Ethernet Cable
  7. External Harddrive USB cable
  8. External Harddrive Power Cable

Then don't forget the misc. cables.

  1. Lamp Power Cable
  2. Telephone Cable Cable
  3. Camera Charger Cable
  4. Camera USB Cable
  5. Phone Charger Cable

And none of these are the perfect length so I end up have bunched up sections to take up the slack.

Get a drill... (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28788991)

Can you put the cables through the desk, then under the carpet?

As for your other devices, maybe put a surge protector into a drawer or on a shelf or something to hide them.

If these solutions don't work for you for whatever reason, try consolidating the cables into a vacuum hose or something similar.

Re:Get a drill... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789677)

You should never run power cables under carpet; easiest way to start a fire!

The three keys are:

  • Make sure the connections to fixed infrastructure are in the right place. Pay someone or do it yourself, but get an outlet where you need it to avoid stretched cords and tripping hazards.
  • Keep cables off the desk. Get them over the back or drill holes in the top with a grommet close to point of use.
  • Have a place for extra cable to go.
  • My solution is to mount a hard-wired plugstrip to the wall at the side of my desk, 4-6" above work surface level, with a small wall-bracket shelf above it. I keep my desk 4" off the wall, so the power bricks are screened by the shelf, and cords can drape down between the side of my desk and the wall.

    I have a blotter on the desk as well, so anything that has to go to the opposite side of the computer is kind of held in place by the storage compartment at the back of the blotter.

    An improvement would be to have either two plugstrips or several outlets that are switched as well as unswitched. I could also add brushes for both sides of the gap so stuff doesn't fall down there...

    Can someone just tell me how to deal with the freaking mountains of paper on my desk? Say scan it, and I will find you...

Re:Get a drill... (2, Informative)

number11 (129686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789701)

Can you put the cables through the desk, then under the carpet?

Don't put 110V power cables under the carpet. They do emit heat, and if the heat can't escape, it builds up. I know somebody who set their house on fire that way. If the cable gets damaged by walking on it, that exacerbates the problem. And while it isn't dangerous, I don't think I'd want to be walking on my ethernet/USB/parallel/serial cables, either.

I had this same problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789017)

So I put a door on my office, and closed it.

Phantom power draw isn't worth worrying about (1)

xtal (49134) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789019)

The power draw @ 0.10/kWh is not worth worrying about, despite what the green hippies tell you.

Make some improvements to your home's insulation instead, if you are worried about reducing your energy footprint.

In the meantime, organize cables how convenient. I have a powered USB hub on a desk I use for charging stuff. I don't unplug it either.

Re:Phantom power draw isn't worth worrying about (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789155)

Depends on the device. For the most part, I agree with you. However, my desktop's power supply consumes about 3KW when plugged in but with the PS switch on. PS switch effectively kills the power draw though, so that's good.

Re:Phantom power draw isn't worth worrying about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789399)

3,000 W desktop power supply... hrmmm dunno about that one

Re:Phantom power draw isn't worth worrying about (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789411)

Er, that's kWh not KW. Whoops.

Re:Phantom power draw isn't worth worrying about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789617)

Your correction makes less sense than the original phrasing. At what frequency does it consume 3 kWh? Is that per hour? Per day? On the other hand, 3 kW would mean 3 kWh per hour, which kinda makes sense except that it looks like a pretty huge power consumption for a desktop PC.

Re:Phantom power draw isn't worth worrying about (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789683)

I'm attempting to remember (difficult these days). The meter was giving wattages readings. 3W power usage when 'off.' I suppose that's 3W per hour.

* CannonballHead slinks back to work where he left the other 99% of his brain. ;)

Re:Phantom power draw isn't worth worrying about (3, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789747)

No, that's 3 watts. The watt is a unit of power, not energy, and is equivalent to joules/second. Power is energy per unit time. kWh is kind of a strange unit; it seems to only serve to confuse people, when it's really just expressing an amount of energy in Joules (1 kWh = 3,600,000 Joules). It'd probably make more sense to just use megajoules, but because of the insistence on referencing energy usage to hours, you'd have to divide by 3600 instead of an even 1000.

Re:Phantom power draw isn't worth worrying about (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789441)

***The power draw @ 0.10/kWh is not worth worrying about, despite what the green hippies tell you.***

0.10kWh (which probably isn't what you had in mind) would appear to be 100 watts -- which works out to $87.60 a year if you are lucky enough to get your electricity at 10 cents a kW Hour. In a lot of cases, that's more money than you paid for the gadget it's powering.

There is surely some amount of power drain that really is too small to worry about, but it's not clear that ANY device that plugs into a power line actually draws that little. Even a device that consumes only 1 watt (about average for a wall-wart connected to a device that is off I'm told) consumes about 8.8kwH per year.

Them green hippies ain't always wrong. ... Now the orange ones ...

Power strip on the desk (2, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789021)

Power: Get a big power strip (like for a lab bench, with lots of space between outlets -- NewEgg sells some), and attach it to your desk. This lets you keep the cables under the desk and (with wire ties and possibly duct tape) off the floor.

Ethernet: Same thing; mount your hubs/routers so a wire always has a straight shot without having to go around or through anything, then wrap up excess cable. You'll just have one cable to your wall plate for power and one for networking.

Cables for portable devices are not as easy to solve but cleaning up power and ethernet makes a big difference.

one word (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789027)

One word: scissors. Took care of all my unsightly cable runs.

Hooks under the desk and velcro ties (2, Informative)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789033)

One piece of advice that I give to any sysadmin or tech before opening a new office/datacenter: Estimate the amount of cable ties [] that you will need -- then triple it. You can never have enough cable ties [] . Velcro/hook & loop is very nice because it is reusable, and it won't slice up your arms like cut-off zip ties can (some telcos actually explicitly ban zip-ties for this exact reason - many techs have to use wax string).

Otherwise, all of the best cable management that I've encountered tends to be made for rack-mounting. Get some hooks from your local hardware store, and then develop a system to coil, bundle, and otherwise tie off your excess cable. Hang the excess coils/bundles from the hooks under your desk or otherwise out of sight. That should keep your desk looking pretty enough. Also, if you have a lot of excess USB cable for small devices, try a USB hub and buy shorter USB cables.

Re:Hooks under the desk and velcro ties (3, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789137)

Velcro these days is _necessary_. I've seen far too many "skilled technicians" slice open cables when cutting open Ty-Wraps that have been bundled too tightly, and had fiber-optic fail because similar idiots bent it too firmly Ty-Wrapping it down.

Cable labels are very helpful: 3com makes label dispensers that help, and when you have 3 or 4 network cables on different subnets but all the same color, they're very helpful indeed. They also help sort out old PS/2 cables for mouse or keyboard, number KVM cables, etc.

Power supplies are a problem. Far too many companies use power bricks that plug directly into the socket, and block everything else. For such foolish designes, one-foot power extenders are very useful. Short extenders also useful for USB devices that are supposed to fit directly into the slot, but block other defices. (Wireless USB devices are particularly bad about this.)

Other issues include _not_ stringing power strip onto power strip to provide enough outlets: get strips with longer cables, probably of heavier gauge, and be sure to tie them directly to the wall socket to avoid adventures.

Re:Hooks under the desk and velcro ties (2, Insightful)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789311)

I return hardware that has zip ties on it and we specifically tell suppliers this before any contracts along with a few dozen other stipulations. To me it is too dangerous to have deployed when I can't trust the damn techs not to take out their 30 dollar Gerber knife and ruin thousands of dollars of equipment by nicking a live wire.

Re:Hooks under the desk and velcro ties (4, Informative)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789535)

Power supplies are a problem. Far too many companies use power bricks that plug directly into the socket, and block everything else. For such foolish designes, one-foot power extenders are very useful. Short extenders also useful for USB devices that are supposed to fit directly into the slot, but block other devices. (Wireless USB devices are particularly bad about this.)

I've had good luck with the folks from Amtex [] . They make a range of modular power supplies. Australian firm, but they can do 100VAC@60 inputs if you need them. If your phone chargers etc. are mostly the same power in / similar power out, a modular power supply with multiple output leads would be safer than a rank of bricks on a power strip. In one contract I worked we experienced some issues with individual power bricks at a large grocery chain. The bricks can be a problem at the retail lane where space is crowded and occupational safety is a concern.

Oh, and all the grocers use velcro ties at the POS too. They're magic. Use cable ties inside a box when you're manufacturing a consumer gizmo, but velcro if you ever intend to move things around. Spiral nylon cable organisers are good, reusable ways to gather cables in groups too.

Re:Hooks under the desk and velcro ties (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789645)

Cable labels are very helpful: 3com makes label dispensers that help

I use a P-Touch, and just print "CABLENAME CABLENAME" so that I can see it from either side of the cable when it's wrapped.

Wheels and Velcro (1)

Geckoman (44653) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789035)

My home office desk has wheels, so it's easy to roll back from the wall, and it has a large solid panel in the back. So I screwed velcro strips in to the backside, labeled my wires on both ends and the middle, coiled them up, and strapped them to the back. The only wires that leave the desk are one coax and two power, so my desk is mobile and nearly self-contained, with few visible wires on the front or top.

Admittedly, though, it's also enormous.

Velcro or Ties (3, Funny)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789045)

If you didn't have to care much about the overall look breadties and the cableties from the packaging work well.

But if you want it to look better velcro would look best

I do not recommend my current method of just having the wires running about, they seem to like getting in knots just sitting there somehow.

ac adapter losses are close to zero (3, Informative)

jeffstar (134407) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789053)

I believe that AC adapters still draw some power even with no device hooked to it.

yes, they draw some. some devices like televisions can even draw an appreciable amount, like 20 watts.

Your average AC adapter has a transformer to step the voltage down to say 12-18V and then a rectifier to turn it into DC, and probably an inductor after that as a filter to smooth out the left over ripple.

When your AC adapter is plugged in with nothing plugged into the DC side, the transformer will still draw a bit of magnetizing current, but it is fuck all.

See []

I think magnetizing current might be 1% tops, so for your 60W laptop power pack you are talking .6 watts.

Even adding up all your power packs you are talking tens of watts.

at $0.30 a for 1000 watts for an hour, those power packs being plugged in is costing you next to zero.

The mess is one thing, but don't worry about the power.

Re:ac adapter losses are close to zero (1)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789303)

An inductor after converting it to DC? You sure about that?

Re:ac adapter losses are close to zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789321)

Yes, there could be a filter choke or a pi-section, but those are old-school techniques that have rarely been used since the vacuum-tube days.

Re:ac adapter losses are close to zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789351)

An inductor in series reduces ripple in the DC signal.

Re:ac adapter losses are close to zero (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789417)

An inductor after converting it to DC? You sure about that?

You can be sure that no AC-DC converter does the job perfectly. This isn't a physics problem where it says "assume DC current" and you can say "Oh the voltage is constant". :)

Re:ac adapter losses are close to zero (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789479)

An inductor after converting it to DC? You sure about that?

The poster to whom you replied probably is referring to a capacitor, although a better quality post-rectification filter could well have an inductor in series in the hot line with an electrolytic capacitor connected between ground and each of the inductor's terminals.

The chances of the average wall-wart having that much filter are slim to none, although sometimes the device to be powered by it will have some filtering on its power input.

Re:ac adapter losses are close to zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789319)

If we all do this, though, it uses up lots of power. Sure, it's free to all of us, but not to the environment. Unplug your transformers.

Re:ac adapter losses are close to zero (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789501)

Well. From my experience, they still get hot. And the low-power connector still can "electrocute your floor" (or cat). Not big, but both things it can draw power.

Also, I don't know why, but on some adapters, there is a warning, that prolonged use without the device connected, could damage the adapter.

Don't make coils (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789059)

Don't make coils out of excess cable. Loops of cable act as an inductance. When you switch on a device which is connected via a long power cable in loops, the extra load from the inductance can be enough to blow the fuse of the circuit.

Re:Don't make coils (5, Informative)

unitron (5733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789309)

I was going to parcel out some mod points in this thread, but I can't let this go unchallenged.

Don't make coils (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Wed Jul 22, '09 06:41 PM (#28789059)

Don't make coils out of excess cable. Loops of cable act as an inductance. When you switch on a device which is connected via a long power cable in loops, the extra load from the inductance can be enough to blow the fuse of the circuit.

Electrical load goes up as resistance and/or reactance goes down. Coiling a wire increases inductance. This increases inductive reactance. This delays direct current from reaching maximum and reduces alternating current. In other words, less load, not more.

That doesn't mean that I'm recommending loops in long power cords, just that the loops will not increase current draw.

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789089)

Cables go under the desk. Kids stay out of the office. Simple and effective

pegboard mounted under desk (4, Informative)

chappel (1069900) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789095)

They occasionally post clutter-busting suggestions over at The original links from this one no longer seem to work, but I thought it was brilliant: []
Basically, mount a peg board on hinged stand-offs with hasps to lock it in the 'up' position, and then mount all the small peripherals and cabling to the bottom of the desk. May not be completely child proof, depending on the size of your children and the extent of the cable fasteners you use.

Re:pegboard mounted under desk (1)

bangthegong (1190059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789735)

A second article linked from that lifehacker post pointed to this item [] at ikea that looks really useful. You attach it to the underside of your desk at the back, and it acts as a tray for the wires which at least keeps them off the floor. That plus cable ties is probably the most straightforward thing to do.

Cable Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789131)

I use those plastic cable ties loosely connected so that you can run new or additional cables through them. I secured the cable ties under the desk with small eye screws. Power wires are routed through one set of cable ties while my data cables (Serial, ethernet, USB & such) are routed through a second set. Nice, clean and easy to use.

Use wire ties (1)

CityZen (464761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789157)

You know those ties that most all cables come with already to keep them bundled up?

I never throw them away. Rather, I use them to keep each cable at its proper length.

Lots of cable clutter comes from having excess cable. Simply keeping the excess tied up neatly helps a lot.
If you don't know how much cable you'll need at first, just wrap the wire tie around the end of the cable.
It'll be there once you figure out how long you need.

The next idea is to actually route the cables to avoid weaving & tangling. Sure, it's easier just to plug in one end and then just throw the cable over everything and plug in the other end, but you'll save yourself time later if you actually think this out and run the cable over things that move less frequently and under things that move more frequently and generally along with other cables going to the same place.

When you have several cables going to the same place, and you're not likely to move them in a while, then you should also bundle them together, again using wire ties (or, if you prefer velcro ties, plastic cable ties, wire loom, shoelaces, etc.).

Something else that helps is cable hold downs attached to the furniture. You can get sticky-back plastic cable-tie anchors (or use one of the 3M products you find everywhere). Stick them behind & under furniture so that you can hold cables off the floor and near the appliances they are going to. Again, you can use wire ties to attach the bundles to the anchors. (Of course if you have wire rack furniture, you can tie bundles directly to the rack).

Cable management takes time & thought, but done well it looks nice and saves time later.

EM fields. (3, Informative)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789159)

Power running through a wire creates a EM field. Run power and signal cables separïately.
Someone once told me of a car audio installer who kept running the cables in parallel next to each other. He kept wondering why every time he would rev the engine his speakers would make noise.
Cross power and signal cables at right angles and put some distance between them if you're running in parallel.

Besides that I find grouping the cables with electrical tape every couple of feet works well. Electrical tape has no electrical significance I just like using it.

Re:EM fields. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789191)

Yeah, repeat it as much as you like, but you won't be able to make an noticeable effects. Running cat6 parallel with power across a house results in zero packets dropped, or corruption.

Re:EM fields. (1)

bami (1376931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789349)

That is because cat6 is twisted pair, thus cancelling out any EM static, but most cables have shielding anyways that connect to ground, so most noise is filtered out. That does not count for cheap VGA or unbalanced audio cables.

Try holding up something amplified (electric guitar) next to a power cord or computer, you'd be amazed how much noise is generated by those things.

Give up (5, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789169)

Give up, and embrace the Electric Spaghetti.

Re:Give up (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789373)

So THAT's what "his noodly appendages" are about.

What are you trying to accomplish? (3, Insightful)

caffiend666 (598633) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789203)

What are you trying to accomplish? If you want neat and pretty, that needs one type of thing. If you are trying to organize the cables behind the computer, that needs another type of thing. If you are only trying to neaten the cables between computers, that needs another. You building a rack-room or want something professional? My only concern was getting in-between device cables off of the floor and above doors. Went to home depot, bought 1.5 inch PVC Pipe mounting clasps (used to hold pipes to walls), and suspended them 8 inches from the ceiling. Then ran the cables through the clasp. To manage power-cables behind desk, I strap-tied the power cables to the desk, leaving other ethernet/keyboard cables which will move around loose. If you want something to impress girls, don't think having neat cables counts. Most women that have seen the cables dangling from my walls are more than a little worried.... Keep meaning to string LED lights along them to make them look less disturbing.

Plant Ties (1)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789245)

Go to your local Home Depot (or whatever) and get some plant ties. Work every bit as good as velcro "Cable Ties" (maybe because they're the same thing) but they're dirt cheap because they're marketed for plants rather than computers. 50 feet or so runs about $4.

Try Ikea. Seriously. (1)

kc8jhs (746030) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789251)

Get a couple of these [] . Works great, is simple, can be quickly reconfigured, works with almost any desk that you can screw into the bottom of, and did I saw it works great?

Add some velcro ties to it if you have too much stuff otherwise all the individual hooks give you plenty of places to hang loops of cables.

velcro, grrommets, custom cable lengths (4, Informative)

davebarnes (158106) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789273)

1. [] This site is good for hours of fun.

2. Velcro cable ties are great.

3. Build your own custom-length Ethernet cables.

4. Label all your cables and transformers. See []

Plastic cable ways and plug strips on wall. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789285)

During the remodel I ran cat-5e from the designated computer room to several other sites around that room and at least one run to every other room (including garage) in the house, plus satellite TV cable, an extra cat-5e loop for phones, and two 20A circuits (combinable for 240V) in each bedroom/potential office. (In hindsight the cat-5e should have been conduit, to future-proof by providing a path to pull whatever the next technologies turn out to be. Also: The DSL phone line might have done better in the single run of the thicker phone-company's cat-3(?) to reduce high-frequency attenuation.) That eliminates room-to-room stuff and one desk-to-desk ethernet line in the comp room / office but does nearly squat for the cable nest near the servers.

I got some plastic cable ways at Fry's. Couple inches square with snap-on cover.

I had already mounted shelf brackets on the wall behind the computer bench so I just mounted these under one row of their mounting screws and ran all the signal and low-volt power in the plastic cable ways, a few inches above the outlets. Looped the slack back-and-forth in the cable ways so the wires are all straight right-angle shot up or down the wall to the equipment. This cleaned things up a BUNCH.

Power is still going from the wall or plug strips directly to the equipment (which is mostly at one end except for the monitors). I also got some plug strips to mount below the cableway. Plan to run the power cords to that and bundle the slack with twist ties to avoid slop lying about.

Carabiner clips (3, Informative)

hoosbane (643500) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789305)

Put some eyehooks into the back edge of your desk, and hang carabiner clips from them. Run the wires through those. It's even easier to get the wires into and out of than velcro, and holds up well.

Flexibility vs neatness (3, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789333)

Ive found there is no real solution in a home environment for me. My office is too much of a lab to be able to contain the cable beast, and my desk configuration is in a constant state of flux. Working on others computers, working new components into the A/V rack, dragging old consoles out, all kinds of stuff. I COULD get a nice test bench/desk with cable routing etc., but its expensive and not really 'home-like'. Besides that it took me years to wire it up the way it is now, and EVERY TIME i introduce cable ties into the works, I have to later remove it. I have put a lot of thought into this over time and realized that any solution I came up with would have more drawbacks then I would like. ANy 'design' would be hard pressed to be cost-efficient, neat and flexible. Its a 'choose only two' type situation.

Hiding stuff (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789381)

I put up one of those cubicle bookshelf, (like this one [] ), that has a lid that comes down. I stuck a couple of Micro ATX machines, cables, and switch in it, and I'm done. Since they're low-power machines (one is a Via C3, the other is a low-power Athlon X2), I can run it closed up just fine.

Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789401)

On the power side of things I'm a big fan of Belkin's Conceal Surge Protectors [] .

For everything else I use a mix of common (and cheap) cable management stuff [] .

Obvious solution, so simple you can't do it: (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789425)

The problem is that there are too many cables, right?
So you want N cables to become 1 cable?

Well, why not take a generic bus system?
But the connectors are mostly different?

So you either have to use devices who all have that generic bus connector, which is not realistic.
Or you find something that lets you combine all the cables into one bus, right at the device.

Unfortunately, I don't know of such a system. At least not one that could really combine most of the cables.

So my only suggestion left, is to use cable binders that you can open again, and bind everything down to one strand right at the device.
And create as little branches as possible.

Or invent such a generic bus system, and get all the vendors to actually use them, despite their desire for lock-in, and buy the new versions of all your devices. ;)

Options (1)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789429)

To keep computer cables managed, I'd suggest you simply bundle them together, and where possible, get shorter cords or wrap them up. the monitor, box, and printer cables can generally be consolidated fairly easily, and that's just a start. You can also get away with bundling data-carrying cables with each other (yes, I know, RFI, but you'll get more RFI from power cables).

Three computers and their connecting cables: go with wifi internet where practical (G or N, you're not actually hosting anything, are you?) As far as the utility cables, I'd suggest cable bundling where practical (you wouldn't bundle that wired mouse, for example, but the keyboard? probably.)

Two cellphones? Phone charger plugs were standardized around USB not too long ago, and with those, you can ditch the wall plugin by getting a simple adapter cable. Even the USB-to-proprietary adaptors would clear up a bit of wall adapter mess.

Video and Photo cables should be bundled as well, and as for their proprietary chargers/cables, tuck them away neatly.

Printers are fairly easy to keep neat, especially if you have a print server. It's not hard to do. For that matter, external hard drives tend to be practical with a single fileserver, because it keeps the extraneous clutter managed, and it's consistent to access. For three computers, do you really need two NAS'es where one will do well?

The phone system should be fairly straightforward, but if you're looking for reducing cable clutter for an office workspace, I'd personally go the cell phone route.

Audio systems go two ways: wired, or wireless. I prefer very low lag in my sound, so I prefer wired, but that's my preference. Either way, you're talking about hiding either power cables or the audio wires to your speakers, and those aren't that hard to hide. Do keep them hidden, and not crossing any traffic though, no matter how much better it might sound with it placed a certain way.

Routers and switches are nice and all, but so is the ability to go wireless. Choose something that will get you the least interference and the best signal (I've been happy with my DD-WRT), and choose a good channel (avoid those overcrowded factory settings channels like the plague). Sure, you'd lose an expansion slot, but you'd also lose those cables, as well as the hazards those cables bring with them. Go with the N standard if you have interference issues where you are at, because so few people actually have wifi-N to interfere with you.

If you'd like to watch your power consumption, get one of those load meters. They'll help you figure out whether or not it's those idle bricks that are pulling more power, or that idle photo printer. The wireless router may pull a good draw though, I'm not sure.

In general, my own cable mess is tucked neatly out of the way. The things I use (like my cell charger) is accessible, on the desk, attached to my USB hub. My printer is easily turned off (and stays off for the most part), as is my monitor (max power saving is good).

You can tuck those power strips anywhere, including under furniture (properly insulation is a good idea). Power bricks are harder to hide, but they can be put with them (and hot bricks should -always- stay where they can at least maintain a good temperature). As such, I tend to avoid the cabinetry, since my laptop brick can get scalding hot sometimes, and tend to opt for the behind-the-cabinet approach, where if something does go wrong, I can take care of it. Forgotten surge strips are useless surge strips.

Use your intuition, and be safe!

Move stuff around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789433)

Everyone keeps talking about cable ties, tape or Velcro but a better way to clean up is to move some devices around. There is zero reasons to have your printer sitting right beside your computer. Use one of your three computers as a print server and get your printer as far away from your main work area as possible. Run a long usb cable to a hub to a table or other far away point for all of your devices. External drives, cameras ect. The more you get away from the computer the cleaner the area is, then you go nuts with the cable ties to get what needs to be there.

You faIl it!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789445)

Sell your kids... (0)

StealthyRoid (1019620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789459)

Sell your kids, and then take the money and pay someone else to clean up your cables for you.

Dinosaur Duct ftw! (3, Informative)

igloonaut (1376833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789467)

I've replaced 90% of my zip ties, mounting bases, velcro, etc. with Dinosaur Duct [] .
It's available in shorter seqments from Markertek [] .

Wiring Duct FTW! (1)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789477)

I recommend them for anyone who doesn't like loose wires. A tad pricey, but they last forever.
Awesome stuff, easy to cut, easy to install and a clean finish. Panduit []

Experience from ASU (1)

Zrako (1306145) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789509)

I work in IT over at Arizona State University and had to cable manage hundreds of computers. What we used was super Velcro which allowed us to connect switches, hubs, etc. to the underside of desks and then we used this spiral cable wrap to wrap all the cords together. It was the first time I had seen anything like it but it worked wonders. I don't know where you can get it the cheapest but this website carries it [] so check it out. Once the cables are bound (which can be undone relatively easily) you can then zip tie or Velcro them under a desk or against a wall. It keeps everything nice and tightly. I noticed in the store the other day a great option that may help in your desire to reduce power usage by AC adapters that are not currently plugged in to anything. It is a special surge protector that has two outlets that are âoeAlways onâ and then several others that are connected to the on off switch on the surge protector. This allows you to give certain components (i.e. routers, NAS boxes, etc) constant power while other components (i.e. AC adapters) can be turned on an off at the flick of a switch. You can even control the on off with a remote control which I thought was pretty cool, save on having to bend down underneath a desk just to turn on your power strip. You can check it out at [] so that may help your endeavor as well. Good luck!

Wax string (3, Interesting)

Nethead (1563) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789519)

Do it the old school way. []

Re:Wax string (1)

13bPower (869223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789565)

Agreed, looks pretty bad ass. The wax gets all over your hands though, kind of yucky.

Mount all peripherals underneath the desk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28789547)

I hate cable clutter. I installed a piece of plywood to the underside of my classic writing desk. I then mounted two power strips to the plywood, directing the cable to an inconspicuous corner of the desk and directed them to a surge protector on the floor. All hard drives are fastened by straps to the plywood and the cables are directed on the plywood in orderly fashion on the plywood by velcro straps and cable guides (cheap plastic things I got at ACE hardware). Cables come out in a neat arrangement from one side of the desk and are distributed to a monitor and a detachable laptop which are mounted on stands which further hide the cables on the desktop. Materials about $75 (from ACE hardware) Time about 1.5 hrs

Bigger monitor (1)

SeanBlader (1354199) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789549)

The best solution ever is to just get a bigger monitor and hang it all from the back of it. Really though if you have 3 computers on your desk it means none of them are fast enough with enough video to do what you need. Your desk should maybe have 2 systems, a workstation and a notebook. More than that and you are being a packrat. I do like the peg board under the desk idea, but my desk surface is glass. Then I like the eye-hooks with the carbineers, but the supports for the desk are wrought iron, I'd hate to drill holes through it. In the end the cleanest and most professional look is velcro straps and split loom tubing together. And limiting yourself to less hardware is a lot of effort on it's own, and in the end I still have surround speaker wires running around behind me, you can't get rid of all of the wires.

missing response: (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789569)

learn to love clutter. I used to be a neat freak, then I embrced my own messiness, and life is so much simpler now.

I have a few suggestions! Wait... (4, Funny)

parlancex (1322105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789589)

and safe (I have small kids) solution.

Well there goes all my ideas!

zero cables on floor (1)

anyaristow (1448609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789653)

Back when my primary computer was a Mac mini I had no cables on the floor, not even power cables, and even now I have very few. My computer desk is a table, and mounted to the wall underneath is a shelf with cable modem, router and the larger wall warts. Mounted to the underside of the table are two power strips. In my Mac-only days all the cables were tied to the underside of the table or the back legs of the table. Even the power cables from the wall didn't touch the floor. It was wonderful to be able to stretch my legs and never touch anything.

Now I have a PC on the floor. Ugh. Most of the cables are still off the floor, though.

just let them be (1)

dwarfenhoschi (1494927) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789661)

Im am very much a cable freedom enthusiast...let them be free, dont restrain them. I imho really like all the cables being around gets me a tingling feeling ^^ Sometimes when i reach down to the depths of cables to get one i dont need very often i even get a small electro shock...still havnt figured out where it comes from.

Cable Management? Ha Ha! Funny! (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789731)

Clutter will defeat Cable Management when they meet in the ring! Clutter was in this game long before Cable Management and Clutter will totally trounce Cable Management when they tangle this Sunday! That's just a new costume that Cable Management has and nothing more. Cable Management still has the same weak and wimpy skills that Clutter mopped all up and down the ring last time around! Clutter did it before and Clutter will do it AGAIN!!! OOH! Can you FEEL IT?!? Watch Clutter flex those biceps!

Dust bunnies (4, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28789795)

Quit vacuuming and pretty soon all your cables will be nicely concealed.

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