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Ask Slashdot: Extreme Cable Management?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the worthless-without-pics dept.

Networking 242

An anonymous reader writes "I am not a fan of wireless except for Wi-Fi to a notebook, but have gotten frustrated by the vast amounts of tangled cables around my computers: I have two machines, four monitors, multiple external hard drives, cable modem, network switch, router, USB hubs — everything requires power and connection to the other devices. The tangles and tangles make it almost impossible to move anything without spending twenty or thirty minutes under the desk. I'd rather untie balled-up fishing line than try to snake a monitor cable out from some thirty or so other wires. Anyone have good ways to prevent this?"

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242 comments

uh, label both ends? (4, Funny)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897517)

I have also been caught using colored CAT-5 cables.

...and don't forget... (3, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898003)

cover all your cables with this stuff [idealindustries.com].

Unless you have rabbits. (3, Informative)

Jaywalk (94910) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898287)

If you have pet rabbits -- or any other critters that chew cables out of instinct -- you need to cover your cables with this stuff [radioshack.com]. We had one chew through a lamp cord and it dang near cooked the little beast.

Re:uh, label both ends? (5, Interesting)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898079)

I have also been caught using colored CAT-5 cables.

This.

Just recently picked up three Cat-6 Ethernet cables from Monoprice and redid my network connections. No longer will I have to figure out which beige cable goes where. Now using bright red to my main desktop, green to the secondary machine (10' each), and got a black 3' cable to the blu-ray player now (this is all on one desk). The colors will stand out compared to all the black power/monitor/usb cables in the mess, too if I'm de-tangling lines..

Also, as to the subject line I've been doing that for years with home entertainment components. Label the power cables at the mains plug/AC adapter (and at the other end if it can be detached from the device). No questions about what I'm unplugging under the desk when I need to move/change something, and no worries about accidentally plugging the wrong AC adapter plug into a device and potentially frying it.

The other thing I'd recommend is shorten cables where you can. The standard cable length may be between four and 10 feet for everything, but if you don't need it save lines. I have a one-foot Ethernet cable connecting the cable modem and the router (they are right next to each other after all).

Labels are half the issue. (4, Informative)

Jaywalk (94910) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898169)

Labeling helps you if you need to unplug or move one cable, but it's still a mess if you need to remove a cable from the snarl, as when replacing components or swapping out a bad cable. The answer to that is to eliminate all the extra wire that causes the snarl by taking up the slack. There are a bunch of gadgets [cableorganizer.com] that can be used for that. My personal preference are the velcro cable ties. I wrap the excess cord around my fingers and then wrap it with the velcro tie to keep it out of the way. I like them because they're reusable, cheap and can be used when storing cables as well.

Wire ties (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897525)

Buy wire ties, or flex-tubing, or some other sub $20 cable management and stop leaving your loose wires to get tangled?

Re:Wire ties (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897721)

Buy wire ties, or flex-tubing, or some other sub $20 cable management and stop leaving your loose wires to get tangled?

Yes. Reusable cable ties, because you never know when you'll need to add another cable and don't really want to keep replacing cable ties.

Rubber bands eventually dry out and fall apart. Electrical and duct tapes leave a gummy mess. If it's a single cable and going to be along a wall for a while, get some of those little nail in cable holders from the hardware store, put then in along the baseboard, to keep your CAT5 out of the vacuum cleaner.

Re:Wire ties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897865)

If you need to tape, use gaffer's tape.

Re:Wire ties (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898237)

Buy a roll of velcro and a pair of scissors or use black innerduct.

Re:Wire ties (4, Insightful)

flirno (945854) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897897)

I use velcro ties.

Re:Wire ties (2)

guttentag (313541) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898313)

I like these: Scotch Cord Organizer Straps [officedepot.com]

Found them at Target a couple years ago, haven't had an issue with cords since then. They have a soft felt on one side, tiny hooks (smaller than normal velcro) on the other and aren't as bulky as regular velcro. Use them to bundle the cords together at regular intervals so they can't get tangled. Or loop excess cord and use this stuff to hold it in a loop.

Re:Wire ties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898473)

This a thousand times. I run a recording studio so as you can imagine, many cables and they always need re configuring. My studio is 3 times cleaner with Velcro ties. After a few iterations, I have most everything grouped and bundled by the stuff that stays and the stuff that changes. I use the small ones that come in a spool grey&black and have the tiny hooks&loops. They're my favorite I can't remember if they're Velcro brand or 3M or something else..
-S

I do not advocate (5, Informative)

alphatel (1450715) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897539)

I cannot ask you to view cableporn [reddit.com] as it is very addictive.

woooHooo! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898093)

Something better than Hairy Milf Porn!!

The tangle of cables is like hair and the female connectors ....

Binder clips (4, Interesting)

slaker (53818) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897553)

I stole a bunch of large-ish binder clips from work. I binder clip stuff together. Binder clips have loops, so I stuck some screws in the underside of my desk and hung the binder clips with excess cable on them.

It's not super-pretty but it works just fine.

Re:Binder clips (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897747)

I stole a bunch of large-ish binder clips from work. I binder clip stuff together. Binder clips have loops, so I stuck some screws in the underside of my desk and hung the binder clips with excess cable on them.

It's not super-pretty but it works just fine.

I never use binder clips for wire/cables. So much better for keeping my bags of chips, salad, tortillas, french bread, etc. closed. Darn useful things, ain't they?

Re:Binder clips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898061)

I never use binder clips for wire/cables. So much better for keeping my bags of chips, salad, tortillas, french bread, etc. closed. Darn useful things, ain't they?

Why'd you want to keep empty bags closed? Toss 'em into the bin.

Oh ... wait! You don't empty them in one go?! You're one weird person!

Re:Binder clips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898317)

If you use screw-in tiewraps for the cables that will never be moving (like cabling for mounted power strips, etc), you can buy a roll of velcro and cut off strips for things you might want to reconfigure. I have 4 different power strips mounted behind my desk for different purposes, and these run into a 4 pushbutton power center (not sure what these are called, they have 4 power on / off switches and leds, and acts as a basic surge protector as well), which is all running into a UPS. button 1 is for my monitors, 2 is for chargers (phone/tablet/bluetooth, etc), 3 is for accessories (external hard drive, arduino, rasberry pi, etc), and 4 is for my reference monitors (speakers) since they dont have an easily accessible on/off switch. My PC's run off an unswitched outlet. Also I mounted another power strip on the far left side of my desk for printers and anything else I might want to plug in, that shouldn't be on the UPS. I have redone this desk 5-6 times within the last 5 years so I am big on reusable velcro. Tiewraps work as well, but can be a PITA when reconfiguring.

Re:Binder clips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898509)

Bonus, If you clip it onto the side of a desk the arms can be used to stop cables falling on the floor when not in use.

Trays and back-access. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897577)

Set up your desk so that you can easily go behind. Get several layers of trays running along the back - along with a few larger trays to hold things like power bricks. Get some coloured tape, and match opposite ends with colour, or some other useful scheme.

I've screwed big old rectangular plastic food containers to my desk at home, underneath the main surface, and it works great and keeps my cat from strangling herself. At work, I have three layers of long metal trays as well as power-strips. I also have a pile of colour-coded velcro cable ties.

It wasn't always this way... I just got sick of taking 30 minutes to change simple connections. Now it is much better.

First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897581)

First

Re:First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897647)

I separate cables into sections such as DVI cables, Keyboard/USB/Headet USB, Joystick & Gamepad, and finally Power for the monitors. I then use velcro wraps to tie them off and one central wrap at the bottom to bring everything together.

This way you spend about 5 minutes under your desk instead of 30. In addition I would recommend hot swap bays for your computer, you can find them for about $60 and they hold up to 5 hot swappable drives.

Velco One-Wrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897591)

As above. Also - spend time on /r/cableporn

Never move a cable. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897593)

Unplug it and use a new one wherever you're moving to.
If the location you're moving to has an unused spare cable, use it.

Re:Never move a cable. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897991)

Unplug it and use a new one wherever you're moving to.
If the location you're moving to has an unused spare cable, use it.

I cleaned behind/under my desk a few months back. I found I had 2 wall warts plugged in, but powering nothing. Wonder how much those contributed to my power bill each month. Each was just a little warm. Checking your wiring from time to time isn't a bad idea, to make sure you remove unneeded cables or powersupplies.

just need a sign (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897599)

Print out "DO NOT TOUCH ANY OF THESE WIRES" on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, tape to something in highly visible area.
Done.

google image search with above phrase for implementation examples.

Re:just need a sign (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897835)

Print out "DO NOT TOUCH ANY OF THESE WIRES" on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, tape to something in highly visible area.
Done.

google image search with above phrase for implementation examples.

Doesn't help when your own feet are getting tangled up in cords and cables under your desk. I shudder to think what a cat would do under there (besides get electrocuted.)

Perhaps this is something to aspire to [travellerspoint.com]

Re:just need a sign (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897881)

Print out "DO NOT TOUCH ANY OF THESE WIRES" on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, tape to something in highly visible area. Done.

google image search with above phrase for implementation examples.

Something like this [wikia.com] perhaps?

Re:just need a sign (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898149)

Print out "DO NOT TOUCH ANY OF THESE WIRES" on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, tape to something in highly visible area.
Done.

google image search with above phrase for implementation examples.

I see no examples of the sign in use. [google.com]

Re:just need a sign (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898453)

your google must be different than mine, clicking your link I get 5 of the first 6 results = sign in use /shrug

Something tells me you don't work in IT (5, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897613)

>> vast amounts of tangled cables

Really? How many?

>> I have two machines, four monitors, multiple external hard drives, cable modem, network switch, router, USB hubs — everything requires power and connection

Hmmm...something tells me you don't work in IT.

Velcro Ties (1)

jmrieger (2695923) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897631)

Look @ NewEgg for reusable velcro ties. Better than zip ties since you can re-run as necessary. Also look at Tie-D-Wires for affixing cable bundles to your desk. I like ones with adhesive backing so they don't destroy the surface. Or, go all out and get some plastic channels to run cables through.

don't be a chump (5, Informative)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897823)

velcro cable ties

Whoa, dude, are you made of money?!!

You can get 45 feet of Velcro ties for like $3 over in the garden center [homedepot.com].

Re:don't be a chump (5, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898067)

velcro cable ties

Whoa, dude, are you made of money?!!

You can get 45 feet of Velcro ties for like $3 over in the garden center [homedepot.com].

Looks like someone confused Velcro the company with Velcro the "stuff". 45 feet of that and not an inch of it will stick to any other... You can get velcro the stuff at HD but dont bother with the garden variety (hah) get the version in the electrical/electronic aisle. It will run you closer to $6: find it here [homedepot.com]

Re:don't be a chump (1)

Splintercat (1703448) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898215)

That particular link doesn't work for me, but the point does stand. Velcro ties are the way to go.
I've got these Velcro cable ties from Home Depot. 50 8 inch Velcro Ties [homedepot.com] Though at $5.27 each you can definitely find better deals. But being able to just walk in and buy them without waiting for shipping is worth it for small jobs.

If you want to be really fancy then I would also get some kind of way to label or at least mark your cables on both ends. It really does pay off when you have to move, or fix something. My wife went through our entertainment center and labelled all the cables with some blue painters tape and a sharpie. I'm glad for that every time I have to go back there and mess with something.

Re:don't be a chump (1)

Psyko (69453) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898251)

Yeah that's what I use, it's dirt cheap and you can just buy a roll and cut the lengths you need. My home office desk I screwed some longer strips to the back underside of the desk so everything stays up high, out of the way and out of sight, then it's easy enough to redo since you're working with velcro. Being able to get behind the desk I highly recommend as well.

For Wall warts, I use these guys ( http://www.cablestogo.com/product_list.asp?cat_id=1020 [cablestogo.com] ), power squid type power strips, you can attach them high underneath your desk then coil up the excess cable length near them so you don't have hanging wires. Additionally then you dont have to worry about them blocking recepticles on your good power strips (I'm still an isobar fan for those http://www.tripplite.com/en/products/product-series.cfm?txtSeriesID=825 [tripplite.com] )

Also dont be afraid of physical separation, I have my cable modem, firewall, and a switch on one side of the room on a cabinet where printer, mfd etc are, along with a small nas, then gig isl's over to the other side of the room where workstations on the desk are plugged in.

I'm also a big fan of synergy ( http://synergy-foss.org/ [synergy-foss.org] ) as a software keyboard/mouse for machines vs having use physical keyboards or physical kvm's for multiples, and you still get the separated video output for each which is nice.

Every once and a while you need to go through the stuff you've got cabled up, getting rid of things you don't use all the time, or can consolidate (that's probably an annual or bi-annual job though lol). I did that earlier this year and it actually helped quite a bit.
 

Binder clips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897643)

Binder clips.
http://lifehacker.com/5906654/diy-binder-clip-cable-management-is-insanely-cheap-customizable

Easy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897649)

Easy. Get a Mac. Stop being a PC-using luser.

alternate approach (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897663)

Become semi nomadic, simply abandon the mess of kit when it gets too unwieldy and start another one. With careful planning you may be able to make a single small room last for four or five systems, which is more than enough IMHO. When you run out of rooms simple move.

Reduce your external zoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897667)

Ethernet should be the least of your problems, you can probably improve your situation significantly by reducing the number and location of your external devices.

Cable modem, router and eventually the network switch can go together into a lonely corner - also consider to get sort cables for them. A NAS can replace many uses of external USB harddisks and find a resting place close to the switch.

Another improvement is to find cables that are just long enough for stationary devices and tie them together to a nice cable bundle. So you can get a long way with minor changes.

Placing the router for signal coverage (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898057)

Cable modem, router and eventually the network switch can go together into a lonely corner

Not necessarily. Signal coverage concerns dictate the placement of wireless access points, and this in turn tends to dictate the router's placement because home networking equipment tends to bundle the AP into the router or even bundle the AP and router into the modem.

Your Welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897669)

http://www.petapixel.com/2010/03/23/cable-management-with-binder-clips/

Move things less. (3)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897679)

Why are you moving things around so often? I have an eight port KVM that's filled up, and cabling is a disaster behind the computers. But that's where they live, and once they're there, I have no reason to move them until I move to a new home.

Re:Move things less. (1)

ion++ (134665) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897757)

If you space out the cables like a harp and try to keep 5 cm between the cables, then it is a lot easier to follow them and unplug if needed.

Re:Move things less. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897883)

A laptop, perhaps?

Every morning, I have to drop a power brick down the back of my desk, plug in two video cables, a mouse, and sometimes an Ethernet cable. Fortunately, all my stuff plugs in on one side, so it takes less than a minute - and I can do some of it while starting up all my programs.

Re:Move things less. (2)

FriendlyStatistician (2652203) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898011)

Buy a second power brick.

Re:Move things less. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898283)

I probably should. Especially since the 150W power brick weighs as much as some of the lighter laptops I've seen.

For now, I just have two of the wall->brick cords, one for home, one for work. They're standard PC power cables, just like a desktop, so I already had several.

Re:Move things less. (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898023)

Why not buy a dock and leave it plugged in?

What is this "dock"? (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898151)

Which would require replacing the laptop with one that has a proper dock port. Right now, I have a self-powered USB hub and power brick set up at each location where I use my laptop for more than an hour at a time, but it's still four connections to set up power, video, audio, and USB.

Re:Move things less. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898321)

I haven't had a laptop with a dock since floppies were popular.

Seriously, they aren't at all common for consumer laptops, and there aren't many "professional" laptops that can max out Crysis (which is totally something I need to do, for some reason).

Also, I take the mouse with me many times, so I'd need to plug that back in anyways.

Re:Move things less. (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898463)

Now that is something I wish laptop makers made -- a decent dock for their products. it doesn't have to be fancy like the old PowerBook Duo dock (which engulfed the laptop like a VCR did a VCR tape), but something like the old IBM Thinkpad docking station/port replicators. The older ones accepted almost any Thinkpad, and provided not just video and other ports, it actually provided IDE and PCI card buses, floppy disks, and other items.

We have more technologies in the past to allow for docking connectors to work with the thinner laptops made today. Apple's Lightning adapter changes what pins do what on the fly. It wouldn't be hard for a laptop maker to do similar so the dock adapter doesn't have to have 100+ pins to handle analog VGA video and such.

With how laptops have become desktop replacements in a lot of places, I'm amazed that docking stations are not more common. Just the ability to have a second hard disk in the dock which backs up data when the machine is plugged in would be very useful. Perhaps a more powerful video card in the dock for gaming as well. Of course, with a dock, there is the fact that you just set up the cabling and forget it. No need to plug and unplug a rat's nest in every time one needs to use the computer.

Velcro ties (1)

theedgeofoblivious (2474916) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897685)

Walmart has some velcro strap in the sewing section. It's about 1" thick, and is spooled around itself. Whenever I need to tie a cable, I just wrap it around the bunch of cables and cut. It works a lot better than things like plastic ties or twist ties, because it can easily be undone.

If I have a bunch of cables tied together and you can't identify them(like networking cable), I will wrap a piece of paper masking tape around each end of each cable(like a flag made of tape rather than like a band going around the wire), and then write a description of the cable on both sides of the tape and on both sides of each flag.

Ikea (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897693)

I bought a cable tray that mounts under the desk for about $10 at Ikea. That and some cable ties & shorteners was all it took for me.

Re:Ikea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898199)

I never understood this with cable management freaks. You can shove them in a cable tray and route long ones up and down to take up slack or randomly place them under a raised floor and suddenly everything looks professional and tidy and it makes people happy thinking you are doing your job and you care more. There are still there and messy, only now there is something obstructing the view of them. From a technical prospective, nothing changed. Why bother?

Re:Ikea (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898443)

Because you don't have to look at them, nor do they get in your way (or your pet's way). It's the same reason I put my groceries away in cabinets instead of leaving them all on the counter...

Re:Ikea (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898455)

Because if the devices all work, the cabling is not a problem; and if you do not see the cabling, the cabling does not *look* like a problem.

What you need... (1)

Panaflex (13191) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897699)

Split cable tubing is what you seek. Seriously, gather all your device related wires into the tube and you'll be much happier. Everything else, use velcro tape (e.g. network and display cables).

Also, consider getting shorter cables that are the correct length. You don't need a 15m ethernet cable that only goes 1m!! You can get decent cables on eBay usually, or just about anywhere these days. Make sure you use shielded network and display cables - you might have some signal issues running next to AC power otherwise.

Re:What you need... (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897855)

Also, consider getting shorter cables that are the correct length. You don't need a 15m ethernet cable that only goes 1m!!

If you have a 15M ethernet cable and you only need a 1M, and you don't have a crimper you can shorten the cable by doubling it back on itself several times and holding it together with cable ties.

Velcro wraps and cable bundles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897703)

Wrap your cable bundles with Velcro instead of tie wraps. Use a label maker and label the ends.

Move it out of the way. (4, Insightful)

chill (34294) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897741)

Specifically, the network switch, modem, router, etc. should be moved to the basement if you have one, or a dedicated area. You should almost never touch them, so get them off your desk.

Ditto for all the removable hard drives. Buy a little server with a crapload of storage (or a NAS) and put it in the basement with the network boxes. Access it remotely.

Get a wireless keyboard and mouse, hook it to a 2-port KVM. Move the computers under or behind the desk.

That way the only thing on the desk is the (wireless) keyboard & mouse, a USB hub and the monitors. Those cables should go right down behind the desk to the monitor and power strip.

If, for some reason, you use optical media frequently, plug a USB-based drive into the hub and leave it on the desk. You should almost never have to touch the computers at that point, so why have them in the way?

Mount that clutter! (2)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897773)

You could get the cable modem and router (and their cables and AC adapters) off your desk by attaching them to pegboard mounted to a wall [lifehacker.com] or under your desk [decluttered.com]. Be sure to mount a power strip, too.

If you want something a little more professional looking, you could go all rackmount [monoprice.com].

A series of tubes. (1)

centuren (106470) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897781)

Have you looked into using cable tubes or wraps (this sort of thing [cableorganizer.com])? They can help a lot when you have multiple cables converging on the same point over space. There are also ties, mounts, and any number of cable management accessories [popularmechanics.com] for "under the desk" cables.

All in all, I've found the most useful practice to be labelling each cable or cord on both ends using masking tape and a marker. The tape provides a 'tab' I can write on, so if I need to unplug device X, I can just look for the cable with the X label and then pull it free from the other end.

I've also found the biggest culprit when my cables get messy is always my laziness, especially not removing devices, cables, and power cords that I am not currently using and packing them up until I need them again.

Google (4, Informative)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897813)

& Lifehacker have got you more than covered: http://lifehacker.com/364054/top-10-ways-to-get-cables-under-control [lifehacker.com]

Re:Google (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897869)

You can also decase your harddrives and mount them internally, or buy a bigger one and consolidate, or decase them and mount them in a storage bay. Or you can do what I did and that's add a shelf & just store them there keeping the one (s) I need plugged in and powered.

make rules, and consistent work practices. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897837)

Make some rules! Stick to them and be Consistent.

All power from the back, keep power cables neat, power boards, cables, plug packs accessible and if possible in dedicated tray, can be a simple tray preferably under table.

Next kvm / USB / Video,

Lastly LAN, SAN, etc Try to keep the the right length, mini patch panels might be over kill unless you are looking at over a dozen machines in multiple rooms,

Use switch ports in a dedicated order, ie machine one is using switch port one etc,

Always install in that order. and remove in reverse.

Keep the WAN, in a dedicated place easily visible.

Has kept me sane (and happier) for many years.

Ultimate solution... (-1, Offtopic)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897873)

...trade in all that cruft and get yourself an iMac G3.

Re:Ultimate solution... (1)

Roobles (1880882) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898249)

You are proposing a $1,300 solution. The average solution so far seems to be hovering around $20, with some as low as $3. There are some cost efficiency problems with your solution.

Re:Ultimate solution... (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898341)

You are proposing a $1,300 solution. The average solution so far seems to be hovering around $20, with some as low as $3. There are some cost efficiency problems with your solution.

Wrong. iMac G3 was the all-in-one manufactured in 1998, and you can buy a used one on Amazon right now for $169: http://www.amazon.com/Certified-Pre-Owned-internal-keyboard-installed/dp/B000PQJPPU [amazon.com]

Re:Ultimate solution... (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898461)

Heck I've got 2 I'll sell for $25 each ... local pick up only or you pay my time to pack and drive to a shipping place as well as actual shipping cost.

Re:Ultimate solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898479)

Yes and the $1300 solution means he is no longer a PC-using luser.

Fixed stuff wall mounted, velcro ties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41897911)

I have my cablemodem, router, and their power bar wall mounted at the top of a closet, with the cables concealed inside the walls, run to surface mount boxes. power bars, hubs etc can be mounted to a wooden board. Most external hdds arr better borged into a server or NAS box. A kvm switch helps kep the monitors and keyboards under control. anything that does not change frequently should be velcro tied.

Sounds like my home theater (1)

iontyre (455773) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897913)

TV, Pioneer receiver, Comcast HDDVR, Blu-ray player, HD DVD player, DVD recorder, 7 speakers and a subwoofer. Most components connected via HDMI and Ethernet, plus the power cables. 8 speaker cables. A MESS! Haven't been able to design a nice flow for all that.

Closet (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897985)

Closet. Ventilation is important. One shelf per machine / setup. Long USB cables and video/VGA/DVI/whatever floats your boat from the closet to the KVM on the desk. All monitors and trackballs/mice are wired direct not thru the KVM (so I guess its just a K switch). Audio in/out run thru a mixer (long story) The K we're discussing is an IBM model M with a USB converter (adapters don't work w/ something this old). The wiring on the desk doesn't look so icky when its basically just KVMA, a keyboard, some pointer devices, and a nice pair of speakers. Inside the closet, use some discipline and it'll be OK.

I built a small wood shelf the monitors live on, and shove the keyboard and pointing devices under the shelf when not in use. Looks clean. This also raises the monitors to the perfect ergonomic height... at least perfect for me, and my desk.

In the old days analog VGA required some pretty careful routing and quality cables not to ruin signal quality, and some cards had weaker outputs than others WRT extensions. Also had to fight CRT magnetic interaction which was pretty annoying. In the digital era its boring simple, childs play really.

Everything with a fan lives in the closet. Not silent, but very quite.

You have a trivial problem not an extreme one. (2)

harl (84412) | about a year and a half ago | (#41897993)

First off you have a trivial cable set up. You're orders of magnitude from "extreme."

With the setup you mention there's almost an infinite amount of solutions. Tape, twist ties, tubes, velcro, hooks, labels, etc.

Almost anything will work. Basically you have a laziness problem. When you ran the cable you didn't label it, or loop and tie, or use a cable hook, or do anything.

I use hooks for mouse and keyboard. Long net cables are wound and tied. Power cables are velcroed together near the PDU.

Honestly all you have to do is anything but what you're doing is adding cables with no organization.

When you're up to thousands of cables come back and we can talk about extreme solutions.

Throw that shit away (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898037)

This is a post-PC world you crusty, old faggot. Throw that shit in a dumpster and buy an iPad.

Re:Throw that shit away (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898499)

Ah, love your delicate wording there. But anyway, it's funny how at the advent of the "post PC era" crap I actually moved from a laptop to a full desktop at home...

Avoid stuff that generates bundles of wires. (1)

Xzzy (111297) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898069)

The real problem with cable management is not organizing it, it's what happens to the organization when you have to change something. Zip ties and velcro certainly make everything look pretty when you first set it up, but it gets frustrating really quickly when you need to make a change.. bundling all your cables in a big wad is the quick route to a disaster.

The best way to keep things tolerable is to get cables sized properly for the run so they aren't pulled taut or have too much slack, and lay them flat.. either on the floor or on a ladder if you're in a server room. Cables will still get tangled over time but if everything is straight it shouldn't be too hard to extract one.

One idea I've had for a few years but never got around to implementing is a sheet of pegboard.. use screw-in hooks to provide wire routes, and affix a power strip to it to run peripherals. Probably requires easy access to the rear of your desk though. If it's up against a wall the value declines.

Nail velcro strips to the back of your desk (2)

SpankyDaMonkey (1692874) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898107)

Disclaimer - I run installations in a datacentre so I do this for a living.

Nail velcro to the back of your desk, instant cable guides and tidy. Velcro excess in to loops. Use a lot of velcro. Plan and execute a labelling scheme - either paper that you sellotape over the top of, or a proper brady label for every cable. Use dymo labels for every plug and AC-adapter so you know what each of them hooks up to.

Yes it's a pain. Plan on taking half a day to do it properly. Document it as you go if you can. Remember all you need is to do it properly once.

If it's stuff that you plan on taking with you for travel / work - get a second adapter / set of cables. Keep those in the bag so you only need to move the device. The cost of your time messing around trying to untangle behind your desk is worth a spare usb lead or several.

Seriously? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898143)

Expand the work space, and it's a non factor. Maybe it's just that you are trying to pack everything in to a 3x3 foot area, in which case I'll say move out of what ever shoebox you are trying to work in, or wait till your prison term is done before going dual monitors and 2 PCs.

Honestly, I have more gear than this sitting on a work table and a few shelves. Just space things out, use re-usable banding (Velcro) to keep things ordered.

Learned This as an Audio Tech (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898163)

Build [cableorganizer.com]
A [harmony-central.com]
Cable [seymourduncan.com]
Snake [ehow.com]

The tangles and tangles make it almost impossible to move anything without spending twenty or thirty minutes under the desk.

So don't move stuff. Feng Shui and all that jazz.

declutter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898181)

The idea on http://www.decluttered.com/ works pretty well, especially for peripherals. Here is my implementation: http://imgur.com/a/a3JKE
The cables look a little wacky but they are actually rather organized, although I plan to rerun them soon to straighten some runs.

Garden Mesh (1)

CapybaraRancher (1586845) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898213)

A) Get a grid of garden mesh. This gives you a 2D substrate you can clip cables (and USB hubs, outlet strips, etc) to. You can mount this on the underside of your desk, hanging from the back of your desk, or in a cabinet if you want. (You can see my implementation at the right side of my desk, here http://www.flickr.com/photos/capybararancher/6705805105/ [flickr.com] ). My approach was: simple cable runs to that one cabinet, which becomes the patch panel between devices. All slack for cables is taken up there, and cuffed (see below) to the grid of mesh. Only downside: I had to buy a 40-foot roll of garden mesh, and only used 21" x 21". B) Get some cable cuffs: www.cablecuff.com/ I find them handier than velcro ties; they're cheap and durable. You can get them by the handful at Home Depot.

Pegboard (1)

moonwatcher2001 (2710261) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898233)

Ever seen a garage workshop with tools hanging on hooks on pegboard? Get that, rest your cabling on the hooks, attach said cabling to hooks with twist ties or velcro loops. Problem solved.

Get someone who knows what they're doing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898305)

1. Fire whoever is doing wiring. If that's you, then stop doing it.
2. Contact the engineering department at your local TV station and find out what contractor they use for their broadcast wiring.

Broadcast techs are trained on proper wiring, labeling, tying, etc. Compared to what you see in the typical computer room, their stuff is a work of art.

They can handle CAT 5 and RJ45s because a lot of the digital broadcast gear has moved to GigE.

And compare to IT/network guys, they're paid less!

Really inexpensive Velcro ties (1)

rlh100 (695725) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898327)

I also recommend Velcro ties, but they can be expensive. Especially computer room grade. What I have discovered is "Velcro Plant Ties" It comes in a 75 foot X 1/2 inch roll for about 4 bucks. It can be found at Home Depot or Lowe's, but maybe not year round. It can also be found at nurseries.

I love the stuff. It is so cheap that I use enough to go around the cable bundle twice or more. Good for adding additional cables later. It is thinner so it is easier to cut and work with. It is cheap enough that I throw it away without a second thought. Well maybe a thought that I should recycle it and not add it to our landfill.

Two other suggestions. Short Cables. No cable should be over 6 feet long. I find 4 foot works well for me. For multiple computers and a KVM switch bundle the cables for each host together, keyboard/mouse, audio, VGA and Ethernet.

In Need of Better Planning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41898351)

I would recommend using twist ties or something similar to group things that go together (e.g., monitor cable and power cable for each monitor) until they need to be split (e.g., to computer and to outlet/power bar). I also recommend unplugging everything and systematically putting things in the order they are least used (e.g., you should always plug your computer in first so the wire is on the bottom and your mouse last so the wire is not tangled in anything).

Ensuring you have a good layering system (e.g., what goes first, second, third, etc) and making sure things are tied together whenever possible (and shortened to remove slack whenever possible) will allow you to unplug and plug anything you wish with ease.

If you are organized you should have no problems. I do this on a table/tv stand with two laptops, multiple externals, ps3, tv, usb hub, speakers with many many wires, and many other gadgets. I imagine you can't have more cables than me but by the sounds of it they are a mess.

Move the networking (1)

AaronLS (1804210) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898417)

Move router, switch, and modem somewhere else, then you will just have a single network cable from the switch to your computer. That will eliminate several network cables and 3 power cables.

Put the desktop under the desk or beside it in clear view. Don't try to hide it in some little niche.

Have all monitor cables going around the back of the desk. Have all headphone, mic, mouse, and keyboard cables coming out the front. Don't try to run these around the back. Maybe once a week, switching between my keyboard and joystick over and over gets them to the point they are twisted. Takes all of 30 seconds to lean over, unplug them and untwist the cables and plug them back in(even if they are plugged into the back of the computer, because I've not tried to hide my computer it's easy to reach around and unplug/plug). This is why you want these particular cables to be easily accessible and not run around the back of your desk.

I have USB extension cables and a PS/2 extension cable(cheap from monoprice) to allow me a little more freedom of movement and because I keep alot of things in my lap(keyboard/mouse).

To each their own (1)

mordred99 (895063) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898503)

Every person is different, but I bought a 12 port 4' power strip (15 bucks a frys) that mounted behind the desk. I have one small 4 port one that comes off and is mounted on the corner of my desk for "when I need to quickly plug something in". Everything else plugs in the big one in the back. I have one 8 port USB 3.0 hub with a 4 foot connection mounted on my desk plugged into a USB port in the back of the PC. Everything goes into there. I have a 4 port KVM, which has extra KVM for extra PCs (but I only use 3) so only one mouse and keyboard (and 3 monitors). I have all of my networking and printing on a separate desk so the only stuff on my work space desk is my monitor stand, keyboard and mouse, and the USB hub and small power strip in one corner (and my speakers, forgot about them). The office is in a 90 degree angle, so the PCs and stuff are in the area between the two desks.

No magic answer - treat it like a design problem (1)

Cryptosmith (692059) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898505)

Cable management is like any engineering problem - you solve it by organizing things into a coherent design. Yes, it will take time, but it's worth it.

Personally, I have one tower and two monitors on a free standing desk. There's a large box/trunk near the desk with basket-weave top and sides to allow air flow, and I put the UPS and port connectors all in there. Cables flow in separately wrapped bundles to the box. There are a couple of walk-over cable carriers from the trunk that snake under rugs to reach power/phone/net plugins.

I don't tend to rewire very often (once or twice a year) so I make things neat and leave them that way. The few portable plug-in devices I use tend to be USB, and I have nearby connectors on the desktop and on the front of the tower. I can easily hook up a USB to SATA adapter when I need to play with a hard drive, for example.

Knot your cables, integrate your devices (1)

guspasho (941623) | about a year and a half ago | (#41898507)

Okay, I'm not sure if I can describe this very well but whenever I set up anything that uses cables and I have extra length, I loop up and knot off the extra length. Kind of like when you store an extension cord. Loop, loop, loop, then the last few loops I fold back in on the loop so it stays together, minding the length I need afterward. I hope that's clear enough, I don't have a picture to refer you to unfortunately. I leave just enough length for what's necessary, and I do this for power cables, cat5, everything that's longer than I need. It's extra work to undo but most of those don't need to be moved about very much.

Also, for desk setups, you can find some trays that hang below the back of a desktop and you can store your spare cable length out of the way in there. Stash your power strip in there and all your power cords for your computer, monitor, external hard drives, etc.

Finally, I was willing to invest in some new devices that served this purpose. It helped to think minimalistic, if you're also in to that. I dumped my desktop and netbook for a MacBook Pro, (you could also get an iMac), got one large Maxtor 3GB single drive NAS that's stored out of the way next to my router, and my old external drives are boxed up somewhere. My whole network setup is literally just a cable modem, Airport Express, and the NAS, all hidden behind the couch. You'll probably need more, but that might be a good guide for you.

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