It’s a rite of passage for every IT professional: at some point, you’ll drown in a mess of tangled network cables with no clue which is which or where they go. When you’ve experienced this once, you know that an ounce of prevention is more than worth the effort. Nothing is a bigger waste of time and sweat than digging through a mass of tangled, nameless cables to resolve a simple connection or power issue!
Thankfully, there are ways to avoid this. Below are 3 simple tips for keeping your cables under control and avoiding the spaghetti nightmare:
1. Use the right length. This is a proactive measure that can save you a lot of time and hassle. If you have servers one foot away from each other, don’t patch them with a 10-foot cable. First of all, it looks terrible. But more importantly, more cable is simply that much more opportunity for kinks, breaks, or interference. If you’re buying a cable, buy the smallest length you can safely get away with. If making your own, measure wisely and cut only what you need.
2. Tie your cables together. A bit of a no-brainer. If you have unruly cables every which way, try to tie some of them together into manageable bundles. Don’t use rubber bands; they deteriorate quickly and may even melt if conditions get too hot. Use plastic zip ties instead. Don’t over-tighten the zip ties! They’ll cut into the cable insulation. Only tighten as much as necessary to keep the bundle manageable.
Two words of caution, though: Avoid looping cables, and avoid mixing power and data cables. Long story short – tying active cables into a loop can create a magnetic field which may interfere with their ability to carry data, disrupting performance. And because power cables carry far more current, this effect can become even more pronounced. Just don’t tie your power and data cables together, and don’t tie them into a loop.
3. Label everything. In a datacenter or any other situation with oodles of cabling, this tip is key. Every cable should be labeled twice – once at each end. This way, you can still troubleshoot connections even if the cable themselves are totally tangled. All it takes to lose track of what goes where are a few unplugged and unlabeled cables, so stay ahead of the game. Just make sure your labeling scheme is consistent and understandable to other personnel who may be working the cables in the future.
If you’re working in a data center or server room, you have better things to do than swim through wayward cables. Put these tips into practice and save yourself some time!