Keeping Ethernet cables tidy

Old 2 Comments on Keeping Ethernet cables tidy 645

In my last post, I talked about making sure your installations were clean and tidy. One of the most important aspects of a visually clean and tidy installation is the bundling of Ethernet cables. But what’s the best way to organize them ?

Most people use zap-straps (these things: http://www.bapequipmentstore.com/images/products/large_1783_Zap_Straps.jpg). I’ll be honest, I used to use these too. In fact, I have about 4000 of these in between my office, lab and toolboxes, in all different colors including red, blue, clear, black and green. And to be honest again, I hate them. I hate using them, I hate cutting them, I hate everything about them. Every time I’d zap-strap a bunch of cables, as soon as I was done, I’d realize I had forgotten a single cable or two. Or when you’ve tightened the zap-strap, then you need to cut the excess off and discard it. This requires flush cutters to do properly. Most people just use normal pliers, but that leaves about a 1/16th of an inch showing, which creates a really sharp hazard that you WILL cut yourself on. Then, as you cut the excess off, sometimes it goes flying off into whatever direction, and now it’s at the bottom of a rack cage where you can’t reach it. And then one day, you need to remove a cable from the bundle, so you need to cut the zap-strap, while being EXTREMELY careful that you don’t damage any wires in the process.

My list doesn’t end there, but I won’t keep rambling on. You get the idea: I don’t like zap-straps.

So, given that those are the norm in the industry, what else is there ? I’ve tried wire ties, I’ve tried reusable zap-straps, I’ve tried conical plastic coverings, everything you can think of. Again, being honest, those all suck too, and some really don’t look professional. Then, one day, I found the solution. And it makes so much sense: velcro.

cables
This is an image of a network my company cleaned up (see my last post). Here’s a close-up of the wiring and how we organized it and make it clean and tidy with velcro. Velcro is great for so many reasons. We buy it by the large roll, so we can cut it to any desired length. This means that it doesn’t matter how large the cable bundle is, we can accommodate it (where-as with zap-straps, you need to buy different lengths, which is why I have 4000 of them). Once you’ve got your velcro cut, you can wrap it around and snug it up as tightly or loosely as you want. If you forgot to put a cable into the bundle, no problem, unstick the velcro and add it in. 6 months from now when you need to take a cable out of the bundle, again and clean everything, no problem, I use a good portable canister vacuum like the ones from Dyson.  You can see where I’m going with this.
This is an example of a best practice. I’ve tried the most common and widely accepted standard of bundling cables, and I didn’t like it, so I went out and tried everything else there was that I could find (and was affordable). Eventually I found a method that made sense for me and my staff, and it’s now become basically the only thing we use. Remember, you need to use the tools and resources that make the most sense for you. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Author

Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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2 Comments

  1. Zachary Green June 23, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I completely agree, Velcro is the way to go. Not to mention the environmental factor of using a reusable solution to cable management as opposed to the one-time use of zap strings and all that excess plastic that comes from them.

  2. John Farren June 23, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Our company uses velcro as well on a regular basis for securing bundles of wire. I totally agree that it is a better alternative to any of the other “cable tie” solutions out there. The best thing by far is being able to easily add in those last minute cabling additions that the client will inevitably ask for. lol

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