Cable Management is Not Only For PCs

Posted on by Althea Earwood

Cable ManagementComputer hardware geeks (née enthusiasts) can definitely relate to these two words: cable management. Whether it’s on a tricked-out gaming PC or on a server rack, the sight of neatly tucked cables invokes a sense of satisfaction in each hardware enthusiast. But mostly, it’s due to aesthetics. Not a lot of people know it also involves a degree of functionality; there’s a reason cable clips and ties exist.

Known Issues Stemming From Poor Cabling

Signal interference is a massive problem in server racks. In fact, “massive” doesn’t even do it justice. When data and power cables are too close to each other in parallel or in loops, there’s a good chance for electromagnetic interference (EMI). EMI on its own can slow down data transmission over these cables. Good cable management means separating these two cable groups as much as possible.

There’s a far simpler problem with poor cabling: ease of access. How in the world will you be able to find a specific network switch or other piece of hardware if there’s an insane mess of cables in the way? Any self-respecting IT professional knows how easy it will be to know where everything is from documentation with proper cable management.

It’s NOT a Luxury Expense

The next time your boss insists that it’s a “luxury” to fix the hot mess of cables in the company’s server room, do everything you can to make him understand. In truth, the real cost of proper cabling is extremely minimal, and the results extremely beneficial. Ongoing maintenance is where proper cable management truly shines. Say, a specific network cable is experiencing slowdown issues. In a tangle of thousands of cables, how will you easily identify the cause of the problem?

Individually labelling thousands of cables is an option, but improper cable management makes it worthless. That’s why it’s necessary to label and group them accordingly. For instance, cables of the same type must be grouped together (i.e. a group of Ethernet cables connected to one router, separated from power cables). Furthermore, there’s less chance of having to unplug a lot of cables in a trial-and-error situation just to find the failing one.

So, no: cable management is not all about aesthetics. It traces its roots to simple organisation. When everything is properly grouped and/or labelled, it’s easier to do a task. 

About the Author

Althea Earwood is a Clinical Instructor at a medical university in San Francisco. Prior to this, she works as a nurse at a hospital in New Jersey.