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Ask Slashdot: Extreme Cable Management? 242

Posted by timothy
from the worthless-without-pics dept.
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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Ask Slashdot: Extreme Cable Management?

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  • Binder clips (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slaker (53818) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @03:26PM (#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.

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @03:55PM (#41898079)

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


    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).

  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:29PM (#41898679)

    for a *home* installation, that is rather a lot of stuff to have plugged in at a single desk.

    That being said, there's wisdom to what you're saying about him not working in IT anyway... somebody in IT would probably opt for a monitor with a built-in USB hub, if they needed a USB hub at all. Worth their weight in gold, for how much space they save, and there are powered USB hubs built into some monitors (they draw power from the monitor's power connection). If you need a USB hub at all, that is... the 2.4GHz wireless dongle for my keyboard/mouse is plugged in to the back of my desktop, and the front connectors (2 USB2.0, 2 USB3.0) are plenty for the rare occasions I need to plug a thumb drive or external hard drive in. Haven't ever needed a USB hub.

    Similarly, for persistent storage, most people who work in IT wouldn't opt for "multiple external hard drives", they'd opt for a NAS setup of some sort. There's some very inexpensive options available on the market, and having a decent NAS or two connected by GigE or faster should be significantly more useful than swapping USB drives. And don't argue about storage capacity... the off-the-rack diskless Buffalo NAS I'm using has space for two 3.5" SATA drives, and is running Linux, so the advertised "3TB" limit for drive size is most likely because you can't get drives bigger than that yet, not because it's actually a limit. A 6TB NAS should be plenty of space for most home use right now, and it's trivially easy to add more as needed.

    For network switch/router/cable modem, you could at the very least drop the switch by replacing the router with one that has the appropriate ethernet speed built in to it. GigE routers have been available for quite some time, now. And if you need more than 4 ports of GigE, then there's no reason the switch can't be in a completely different part of the house. Come to it, there's no reason the cable modem can't be elsewhere as well. You could also check with your cable provider about replacing the modem... lots of providers now have cable modems with built-in wireless routers and GigE switches, so you might be able to replace 3 devices with 1. From the description in TFS, it certainly doesn't sound like you need that many Ethernet ports... there's no mention of NAS, printer, TV/STB, or stereo, only the two computers which would require an Ethernet connection.

    As for 2 machines, 4 monitors, cable ties is probably the best suggestion I can make, though depending on the monitor you're using it may be possible to daisychain the displays and use a single cable to drive both of them. One of the many advantages of displayport... you can have a single cable running to a splitter, and drive two monitors from a single output on the computer.

    So I guess, responding to the original question (of course, far enough down that nobody will read it), I'd say the first suggestion for how to deal with extreme cable management is to minimize the number of extra cables that don't really serve a function. The second would be to use tie wraps (preferably reusable) to bundle similar cables so you don't have to go fishing if one fails.

  • by PerformanceDude (1798324) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:42PM (#41898873)
    No need to waste money on something like that. Buy a Jalapeno, slice it open with a knife and rub it along the length of cable. Our cat used to chew into cables. Not anymore.... Poor thing soon learned that chomping on a cable meant a very quick trip to the water bowl. May sound cruel, but is sure better than a dead cat.

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." -- Dr. Seuss