How to keep your computer wires in line

Not everybody has gone completely wireless. It's these poor souls who are destined to trip in the mess of wires dangling in bundles behind the desk. But there's a quick and easy way to straighten things up.

Zip ties!

The lowly zip tie isn't just for cops to keep unruly folks in line. They're also great for putting those unruly computer wires in their place. Zip ties are cheap and come in all different colors. Just one zip and your wire problems are gone. And they're not just for computer wires!

Wires behind your tv making a mess? Zip it! 

Appliance wires making that clean kitchen counter untidy? Zip it!

Old extension cords rumpling in the closet? Zip it!

What can't you do with these lovely things? Bundling pens? Wristbands? Where does it end?


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sparkie on Jan 20, 2007:

No matter how hard I try, I am not good at cable mgnt.....yet.  I'll try your suggestions cause you inspired me!

alexrussell on Jan 18, 2007:

I still think zip ties are killer as wrist bands. Unless the cops put them on you, of course.

balubalu on Jan 18, 2007:

I'd second that it's better to use velcro wire ties.

 At least I'm always annoyed when I have to remove one of the zip ones and don't have the right tools at hand.


Keter on Jan 17, 2007:

Velcro wire ties are good too. I've seen wire wrapped in foam used as removable wire ties, too (gotta watch that to make sure the wire doesn't get exposed and become an electrical hazard). 

IKEA sells a tidy rack than hangs from the underside of your desk to manage wires, power strips, and transformers.  I have one on each of my desks and I'm about to get a third for my (ancient and embarrassing -- I mean vintage and frugal) media stuff.  Loops of wire can be hung directly on the prongs it provides for this purpose, no tiewraps needed.  One caveat:  don't mount your power strip to the upper side of this unit unless you do so on its side...there isn't adequate clearance between the top of the power strip and the bottom of the desk to plug most things in!

I used wire ties passed through sticky back mounts to hang C7 Christmas lights between ceiling beams to create excellent ambient light in my bedroom for about $60 total.

I use wire tires and sticky back mounts for running wiring for install it yourself cabinet lighting, too 

I also use wire ties to create impromptu double hangers -- you know the ones you get from the store that have a little hook molded on (that always breaks) to hold a pants/skirt hanger.  I make a long loop and slip it over the "neck" of one hanger, and hang a second hanger off the loop.

I keep a couple of wire ties in the bottom of my purse, too, 'cuz you never know when you're going to need one.  ;o)

Keter on Jan 17, 2007:

Use caution when using wire ties on cable assemblies that are going to be moved or flexed frequently.  To bundle the cables tightly enough to be useful, the tie has to be drawn tight down onto the cable insulation.  If the cable flexes regularly at the wire tie, it may break there -- on the inside where you can't see it.  In worst cases, this could turn into a fire or electrical hazard.  To remove a wire tie, don't use a blade; you run a signficant risk of cutting the cables or yourself -- they are super tough.  The best tool to use is a pair of "mini dikes" (miniature diagonal wire cutters), but nail clippers can be used, too.  All told, I would recommend using wire ties only on mostly permanent, static assemblies. (I used to do MILSPEC and UL certified cable design, assembly, and inspection for a living...wire ties were frequently a no-no for these reasons.)

I braid "insensitive" cables (power cables, well-shielded cables) together if I have a long continuous run that is not likely to change in the near future.  Some cables should not be run in parallel to one another, as one may induce (transfer) its signal to another.  Ghosting, fuzzy sound, and other signs of interference may indicate cable crosstalk that can be solved by putting some distance between the cables.

Generally, I loop up most excess cable lengths in separate 4-6" diameter coils (depending on stiffness and gauge of the cable) and leave one end long.  I then pass that end around the coil repeatedly, creating a bundled coil that can easily be hung from a hook or wire managment system.

Look at the automotive parts store for wire coils (look kinda like loopy old telephone cords) -- they can also be used to bundle wires together.  Container Store sells these, too, but they are much cheaper at the auto parts store.


benmoore on Jan 17, 2007:

wristbands.. hmmm.. just don't zip them too tight.  those things can be a pain to undo!

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