Go ahead look, I mean it go ahead I know it’s a little scary but this is to start the process. There’s a lot of wire there isn’t it? I know it makes it makes you think that’s a Warp drive instead of a personal computer. Despite the prevalence of smartphones, tablets, and laptops I keep seeing these rats nest behind computers. Especially computers that have been there for a couple of years. So thought I would share how I usually deal with it.
Consolidate: Okay this one’s a little obvious but I still see this with older equipment, a client will have a printer that ran great forever, a scanner their daughter gave them, a copy machine that’s in a corner somewhere that they need because they’re doing some newsletter for their condo association. I know it’s hard to believe that all of these still exist as separate devices. It’s actually hard to find just a printer, almost everything on the market now is an all-in-one printer/ copier / fax machine / scanner/ Julian fry maker / Ice cream churn. So swapping in an all in one for these can eliminate three or four cables.
Monitors can also be consolidated. One of my biggest headaches is speakers. Older ones that need to have their own power cables and connections to the back to the computer are a pain. So a new monitor with integrated speakers might be a good idea for someone who needs basic audio. (for the audiophile I usually recommend a good set of headphones that plug into the front jack) Also if you use Skype or other video conferencing take a look around for a monitor with the integrated web cam vs having one more cable.
Go wireless: Another way to get rid of cables is just to get rid of the things that need them for example the printer I mentioned when you replace it with their own most of them are now wireless capable. This means that the printer no longer has to live near or on your desk. It will work anywhere it can get power and connect to your WiFi I share my printer with my wife on a little side table that is between our work areas.
A wireless keyboard and mouse can add flexibility to a cramped desk and eliminate the need for those wires. I do recommend the ones with the small USB transmitters vs the older ones that needed a big clunky thing on the desk. These also work great for laptops. (Keep the transmitter in 24/7 and when you put your laptop on your desk it will just connect up)
Unless you’re doing high-end gaming, or if you don’t have a wireless router, you really don’t need a patch cable. A micro wireless adapter will let you connect a desktop up to your WiFi network without the a bulky wire.
Get the Right length: I know it’s a pain when you need a cable just to reach 1 or 2 more inches. So its tempting to just buy the biggest cables you can get and coil the extra. But this will just lead to a huge mess after a while. I know its going to take some time and maybe some back and forth to the stores but finding the right cable size will make a huge difference in keeping your computer clean.
Velcro is your friend: I really like Velcro straps. There re-usable, adjustable and unlike zip ties, wont crunch down on more delicate cables. (also the only way to take zip ties off is to cut them so I don’t use them on any wires I don’t know how to, or can’t repair.) Also Velcro will not damage any furniture or structure that you would like to secure your cables to. Also what is handy are these new re-usable twist ties called Gear-ties. I usually have a few with me for cables that I have to use allot. DON’T! use the twist ties for garbage bags or the ones that come off loaves of bread. There cheep and fall apart over time, also their thin metal wire can dig into your cables.
This picture is from a client of mine who let me clean up their wiring setup. It took a while and about 12 Velcro straps and the new shelf, but now the client can see what is connected, how and where. Also the client and I can see all the status light for troubleshooting later. This also meant that I was able to eliminate two switches and a power strip that were not needed after everything was cleaned up.
If under your desk, or if your companies wiring closed looks like cheep spaghetti and you don’t want to deal with it anymore? I can re-cut and re-run the Ethernet cables, help you find technology to consolidate functions, strap organize and label everything to make sense. Click here to contact me and I will happy to take a look. I am Joseph Serrago I teach computers how to behave themselves (and cables) Let me know if I can help.