The Good Cable Guide

By | August 5, 2005

As promised to readers of the column (sorry, subscription only) on and in this week’s The Asian Wall Street Journal Personal Journal, here’s the full list of tips from Robert Bellows of Cable-Safe:

1. View Cable Management as an Important Safety Issue Perhaps the most important tip in keeping our cables organized is to realize that the collection of cables and devices cluttering our office floors is more than an unsightly mess, it is a clear and present safety hazard. Tangled cable clutter causes trips, falls, and excessive dust buildup that can result in overheating of devices and needless risk of fire. According to the NFPA, one of the most common causes of fires is physical damage to electrical cords. Other than fire, the most common hazards are the everyday yanks, pulls and cable snags causing unintentional system shut downs, data loss, or damage to equipment connections. This in turn causes expensive and frustrating communication or production downtime.

2. Absorb Excess Cable Length A significant cause of cable clutter is excessive cable length. A good way to absorb this length is to simply loop the excess length of each individual cable into a 10” to 12” bundle. Tie the bundle at both ends with Velcro or cable ties to form a long dog-bone shape that is compact and lays fairly straight. The loops on data cables should not be too tight. If you can fit two fingers side-by-side inside the loop, you can be sure the loop is not kinked.

Note: While absorbing excess length is the objective, it is good to leave enough extra length in the cables to allow moving computer equipment without having to disconnect cables.

3. Keep Cables Separated. Avoid Bunching Cables Into A Single Mass One quick & dirty method of “organizing” cables is to gather the whole pile into one or several large bunches with cable-ties straps. This will get them out of the way for a time, but the first time a cable has to be removed the whole mess will have to be pulled apart cable by cable. This consumes valuable IT time that could be spent more productively. To avoid this, first loop and tie all cables individually then bundle them together in small groups that are easy to separate.

4. Eliminate Unused Cables As we upgrade our computer systems we are constantly switching cables. Unused cables add significantly to cable clutter and can simply be removed or coiled up and stored at its source.

5. Avoid Mixing Data Cables With Electrical Cords It is good practice to keep data cables separated from power cords to avoid the potential of electromagnetic crosstalk.

6. Throw Some Light On The Subject Taking a moment to point a a good light source under the desk before starting will make the job easier, faster and will help avoid mistakes.

7. Label Cables & Their Ports Label each cable and both connecting points before disconnecting any cable. This saves a lot of time and eliminates improper reconnects.

8. Use Adhesive Cable Clips Liberally Before organizing, have a good supply of adhesive cable clips on hand. These help track cables from port to port without having to lay on the floor. Clipping cables in keeps cables separated and avoids tangles.

9. Establish a Cable Flow If possible, it helps to group cables that are going to the same destination into a similar arch or path. This “flow” of cables looks neater and help keep cables separated and tangle-free. Cables outside of this flow can be placed into their own path with adhesive cable guides.

Thanks, Robert.

One thought on “The Good Cable Guide

  1. Aiyana Lunette

    Thanks for the tips, I really needed this. Even though it’s common sense to do this I never do it. I just got safety cables and I had to set them up correctly so now I’ll be doing the same for my other cables.


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