How to Properly Manage Your Cables

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Cable Management

I’ve been watching YouTube videos on cable management and decided to create a post about it. At some point in the future, I’ll create a video to go along with this. There are some things to consider when you’re setting things up and routing your cables. One of the main things to consider is whether you are renting or you own your home (because you’re limited in what you can put in/on the walls if you’re renting). A second thing to consider is how often you upgrade or change out equipment. Things like cell phones and tablets probably will need a different style of cable management than say computers or routers. Although you can use the same style for all devices, it will have to complement the most frequently changed items.

Things you’ll need:

Most of the YouTube videos show people using cable ties. While they’re cheap and easy, I’m recommending that you don’t use them. My reasoning is two-fold. First, for the most part, they are single use items. Which means if you have more than one cable in a tie and need to remove one, you’ll have to get a new tie. The second reason is more aimed towards professional cable installers, but still applicable to your home setups. Cable ties compress the cable at the point that they are placed. So in theory, they can cause damage to the inner wires, creating shorts or data transmission issues. For a few dollars more, you can get reusable velcro ties, which prevent the damage that cable ties can cause. I’ve seen this damage first-hand as an electrician. We’d mount cables so tightly into the raceway that when you cut the ties, there’s a permanent indention from them (and the cable is permanently kinked in whatever direction it came out of the tie).

So what do you want? Here’s my list (The links will take you to Amazon through my affiliate store. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but it helps me out.):

  1. Cable Management Systems 2-boxes with accessories
  2. iGotTech Cable clips (black)
  3. Nylon adjustable cable clips (black) These actually lock around your cables
  4. Scotch 3-M Double Sided Tape (1X50″)
  5. J-Channel Raceway (48″ Black)
  6. Scotch 3-M 1″ mounting squares (Add-On Item)
  7. Velcro One Wrap Thin Ties (Black 8 x 1/2 “)
  8. Headphone Holders Search Results.
  9. Cable Ties for mounting adapters (and cables, while not recommended).
  10. Cable Tie Mounting squares search results. (I recommend four for each adapter/power strip)
  11. Spiral Tube.
  12. Power strips (surge protectors).
  13. UPS systems.
  14. Patience (lots of it– you can’t rush this).
  15. Depending on how extreme you want to go, a drill and bits large enough for your largest cable and/or a router (saw).

Important Notes:

On one of the videos, the poster made the comment about keeping his power and A/V cables separated. I teach a class on Copper, Fiber, and Wireless Networking, and they emphasize that your power and data cables need to be separated. Granted they are talking about an industrial or commercial setup with high voltages. But the Electrical Code is the “Law of the Land” in the US at least–and it doesn’t specify voltages or applications. So my advice to you is, don’t lump your power cords with anything except power cords. Not your video, not your ethernet, and not your audio cables.

If you can, figure out the routing for all of the cables before you start tying anything down. Especially if you’re using tape or some other semi- to a permanent method of holding them in place. The last thing you want to do is have to rip everything out because a cable won’t work where you put it. You’re going to need to get under (or behind) the desk when you’re doing this. I’m guilty of the “picture it from the top, and reality doesn’t play nice” approach too. I can’t emphasize this enough and will repeat it quite a few times. You’re going to have to get under the desk and behind it. A LOT.

You might want to record this with time-lapse video or take lots of pictures.

In Part 2, I will outline the steps that you want to take.

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