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Making Cable Clutter Manageable

The typical office or lounge-room has several devices with cables running all over the place. While it can be tricky to keep them neat, there are things to can do to make the nest of cables easier to manage.

A few weeks ago the UPS I use in the lounge-room died. In order to pull the UPS out from behind the TV cabinet, I had to disconnect a bunch of cables as well the power in order to access it.

Before disconnecting anything, I made a photocopy of the page in the manual that shows the port and input arrangements for each device. I then grabbed a bunch of coloured cable ties (I picked up about five hundred ties in six different colours for less than $5) and colour coded the end of each cable. I didn’t have enough different colours for each cable so I used combinations for some cables.

I put the ties on reasonably tight so that they didn’t slip down the cable and left the tails on so I could see each cable’s colour without having to move things too much. I then annotated the photocopied page with the cable colour for each socket.

The important thing is to tag both ends of each cable so that it’s easy to find both ends when things get messy again later.

If you have a label-maker, you can achieve the same result by labelling each end of the cable. My suggestion with that is to make the label longer than the text by padding it out with spaces so that the text isn’t wrapped around the cable, making it hard to read.