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I have a tower computer case standing on the floor under my desk, with lots of peripherals both below the desk and above the desk. We're talking router, switch, IP telephony adapter, power strips, telephones (yes, plural), external hard disks, a UPS, a printer, the obligatory monitor (would love to change that into a dual monitor setup, which would only add cabling), mouse, keyboard, a 2.1 speaker set, and more. This obviously leads to a lot of cables going back and forth between the various devices. Despite repeated attempts to reduce the clutter, this very quickly grows into a rat's nest of cabling and I keep having to trace cables through the mess to find where they lead.

Several of the items require the use of their own wall-wart transformers, some of which are relatively heavy.

I don't want to do anything that causes permanent damage to the desk. The desk itself is right about 2 cm thick.

I don't mind the cables themselves being visible, but I do mind it being so difficult to know what item uses which cable is connected to where. None of the items are wireless, and for various reasons, I want to keep it that way.

How can I keep the cabling organized, as well as ideally somewhat out of the way?

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One idea is to use the paper clips to organise your cables.

To know which item uses which cable, use bread tags to put a label at both ends of every wire and cable.

If you're looking for more practical solutions, see Declutter Your Life: 20 Clever Ways to Keep Cords in Order.


Use paper clips to organise your cables

bread tags

Image source: apartmenttherapy

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  • Cable Ties. - This is what they are designed for really. Got lots of cable that you need to keep together neatly and tuck them all out of the way? If you have lots of wires and cables going to the same place (i.e. the back of a PC) you can just grab them all together and stick a cable tie around them (you could even use string which would have the same affect) and then you can easily move the cluster of cables out of the way in one chunk rather than having hundreds of different things trailing around the place.

  • Tie knots in long cables - If you have some cables dangling around the floor or on your desk that are really long and wind all over the place - think about tying them in a knot to firstly reduce the length of the long wires and secondly help in keeping them untangled from each other. Follow this link for a cable knot that prevents tangles.
    Instead of knotting you could simply fold and then tie int he middle with string, tape, or cable ties.

  • Use labels - You can use many different things for labels for organizing which cable belongs to what. You could use adhesive labels, bread tags (as mentioned in the other answers), masking tape, string and a piece of paper, also colored tape like electrical tape. My personal favorite would be the color coding - you could make a key that would remind you which wire belongs to which color and then you won't have to worry about writing really small or ink rubbing off.

  • Use old credit / membership cards - Much like the bread tag and clip binders, cut some holes in an old credit card or membership card (would be easier to use a hole punch) and then cut a slit to the edge of the card so you can get the cables in, you can then have multiple wires parallel to each other and you could even write one the card what each cable is, below is a picture that gave me this idea which is from MakeUseOf. enter image description here

I hope one or some of these are of assistance, slightly better than my first answers as well I hope!

  • Doesn't really solve the problem that "I keep having to trace cables through the mess to find where they lead" though. Or if it does I fail to see how. If anything it'd seem to make matters worse because tracking one specific cable becomes more difficult. Care to edit to elaborate? – a CVn Jan 26 '15 at 15:47
  • @MichaelKjörling My bad - I misread the bit in the question about minding if the wires are visible. I thought it said you don't mind not know where they go - apologies. I shall edit to account for this – MrPhooky Jan 26 '15 at 16:35
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The grey cable used for house wiring (in the UK at least) has 2 different colours in it.

I stripped it, and then cut the coloured insides to 7cm lengths, then wrapped it around. I use the colours to code what it is holding.

  • Isolation is there for a reason. – Sempie Feb 27 '15 at 12:33
  • @Sempie, I mean separate wires. Like this google.co.uk/… – Tim Feb 27 '15 at 13:28

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