Tips for Organizing your computer cables

Question

All the cables around my computer are an eyesore and I would love to find a way to make it more organized. Please help!

- Jan

Answer

This question was answered on February 15, 2008. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Despite the popularity of wireless, the majority of computer users are dealing with this same problem because much of what connects to the computer has a cable.

Those that want reliability over convenience tend to stick with wired solutions, but as wireless technology becomes more reliable, some gains will occur from converting.

For instance, if you get a wireless keyboard and mouse, you can eliminate the wires from those devices to your computer, but it still requires the same number of wires be connected on the computer from the transmitter/receiver

The real question (even if you have one of the new iMacs that do a great job of cable management) is how can I organize the cables that are required for my printer, scanner, USB hub, iPod, monitor(s), power protection and the list goes on.

Converting some of those peripherals from wired to wireless is an option, but it comes with some downside Wireless peripherals tend to be more expensive, often more complicated to setup and keep running and commonly have batteries that need to be replaced on a regular basis.

If all of those concerns are not a problem for you, decide which devices you are willing to convert to wireless Wireless printers are my least favorite, because when they work their great, but when they don’t they are a nightmare!

If you are not sure about a particular peripheral, don’t buy a wireless substitute because the salesman at the store said they were great; ask around and surf the Internet so you know what a large number of people are saying about it.

No matter what you decide, you will still have to deal with some cables, so finding good cable management products is very helpful and will make the ladies in your life really happy when you’re done (I am writing this on Valentines Day!)

There are a plethora of cable organizers on the market, but having worked with many of them, here are some things to keep in mind.

Any system that is difficult to remove will become a pain in your neck down the road For instance, you can use standard cable zip ties (examples are at www.nelcoproducts.com) that will quickly allow you to tie all the cables together, but if you ever have to make an adjustment (like replace the keyboard, etc.) you will have to cut them all off and start over again.

My favorite basic solutions use either Velcro® ties, “spiral wrap”, or the “split loom tubing” (a corrugated flex tube that is split on one side) approach

Velcro® ties are inexpensive and reusable but they leave the decision on how to organize the cables up to you Where you put them and how many you use is generally determined by the various paths that your cables may need to take This solution will clean up the cables, but it won’t hide them.

Most office supply and electronics stores sell them in packages for $5 to $10 and they come in different colors in case you want to identify cable groups by their color.

If your cables are exposed (desks that are not pushed up against a wall, for instance) or they tend to all run in the same path, the spiral wrap or split loom tubing solutions are nice because they completely cover the cables (you can see examples at www.cableorganizer.com)

You can usually buy a roll of these types of cable organizers and cut it to the required length It takes more time to install these types of organizers, but it will look cleaner when you are done They are also a little more work than Velcro® ties if you have to make a change down the road, but not bad.

If you want more elegant options for managing your cables, do a search in Google for “enclosed cable organizers”.

Need Help with this Issue?

We help people with technology! It's what we do.
Schedule an Appointment with a location for help!

Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on February 15, 2008