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.


    Nice little tip.
    We recently bought a new gigabit switch for work and colour coded the CAT6 cables accordingly.
    Orange for PC's, purple for peripherals and green for servers.
    I've got a similar setup at home that just makes things so easy.

      This is old news and IT Pros have been doing it for years, it's a common practice to have different colours for different devices. Phones, Servers, Workstations, Wi-Fi, Printers etc etc

    And +1 for years behind, except most of mine have been done with multiple bands as colour- and/or position/spacing coded as well (resistors, anyone?) in either cable ties or even rings of permanent marker ink.

    Thus you can simply see exactly which cable end belongs to the other, without having to rat or wire-jerk all the way though spaghetti nests of cabling.

    Wait for Andrew to do it for you.

    i got many gigabit switches at work :P

    previous tech used green or blue for everything, i have just spent $1000 on new cat6 cables.
    blue - PC
    purple - network 2 pc (i have 2 networks)
    green - WAP
    black - switch to switch
    red - server
    white - temporary
    yellow - phone

    i also have an excel sheet with the rack layouts, what goes where, what colour, and everything (ip's of switches)

    Colour coding only works when you don't have a lot of cables and can bundle simular colours together, otherwise it makes cabling look messier. I used to use colour coding for UTP cabling at work, reverted to blue, looked lots neater. Also assuming the colour matches the use only works when everyone is diligent about using the right colour all the time.

    'Quirky' and its design community over in the US designed a really cool gadget called 'cordies'. I use it on my desk to hold my printer USB cable, Television VGA cable for my laptop, AUX jack cable for my stereo to hook up to my laptop and my mini USB cable for my HTC mobile charger. It really works well and even looks interesting. No more falling cables off the desk and looking for each individual one.

    Here's a link if your are interested to buy it straight from Australia.

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