Wires, connecting computers to printers, keyboards, scanners, mice, and countless other devices. Wires lying under desks, snaking their way along walls, and under carpets. Multi-plug outlets and power strips with surge protectors with their red power-on lights a glow. People love what they can do with so many things connected to their computers, but they hate looking at the wires. “Is there anything I can do to hide these wires?” “These wires are driving me crazy, do I really need all of them?” “It looks like a rat’s nest under your desk, can you straighten it up?” We tech folks have heard these remarks, hell, we have said them to our friends and kids. So, what can you do about all the wires? You can ignore them, you can tie wrap them together, you can twist tie them together, or you can accept that they are a part of the package.
Some folks are all fired up about wireless technologies, wifi, BlueTooth, and infrared, but these technologies have their issues too. You just can’t see them. I use wires, wifi, and BlueTooth at home and when they work they are great. The more wireless devices you use the less wires you have lying around. So, you can use a BlueTooth mouse and keyboard, which you have paired with your Mac or PC. And, you can print to your BlueTooth enabled printer, that is paired with your computer and you have 3 less wires. Is it worth it?
I like being wired to my devices, wires are secure and physical connections and rarely fail. You don’t need to pair them and no one ever walked away with my wired mouse. I am a wire loving tech nerd, the picture you see above is a small “rat’s nest” of wires on my desk. And, yes I do know what they are all for and where they go. If you want to try to organize your wires here are some ideas to help you. I don’t do this myself with my computer wires but I do it with my entertainment system and stereo wires, now that can be a real “rat’s nest” if un-organized.
Organizing wires, here are some suggestions:
- When you setup your computer or entertainment area, think about where you want things to go and make modifications to make your wiring task easier. Consider the fact that you may need to add, fix, or modify your wiring at some point. The more complicated you make it the more complicated it is to change or modify down the road.
- Label both ends of a wire, so you know where it comes from and where it goes to on both ends.
- Use the best quality wiring you can afford. You get what you pay for. All cables and their ends are not created equal.
- After you have your equipment set up, work with it and used it for a few days with the wiring out in the open. This way, if you need to modify anything it is easy to get to, change, and fix.
- Use quality surge protectors and outlet strips that are grounded. Spend extra for good ones, remember you are plugging some sensitive and expensive equipment into these. And, you want them to protect the equipment from power surges and spikes. If you use a phone line for dial up Internet connections make sure that the phone line is grounded either through a separate ground adapter or a power strip that includes grounding for phone lines. (This is important, often in storms the spike or surge comes through the phone line and can take out (destroy) your modem or motherboard if the modem is part of the motherboard.)
- Once you are comfortable that your wiring is good and everything works the way you want it to. You can use tie wraps at several key locations and then use wire twist ties in between. Then hide the wiring, as you want to. One cluster of wires looks better to some folks than a whole bunch of wires going all over the place. (Remember that you should be sensitive to how things perform after putting all the wires together. They all carry current and sensitive signals travel through some of them. If you start experiencing weird things that you can’t explain one of these wires could be creating interference with another and they may need to be separated.)
- Before you go crazy re-wiring something reseat the cables on either end of a computer and the device that is not working or working in a funny manner. It may fix it with a new connection. Before you replace a wire and run it with all the other wires, take a new one and connect it directly to the device and see if it works with the new wire. If you are satisfied with the new wire add it to your other cables and conceal it with the others.
- There are some commercial devices, like wire mold and conduit that can serve as a raceway for your wiring. You probably have seen these in offices and not given them any thought. The are industrial looking but tidy.
- I have seen some cloth wire wraps, the ones I have seen are black and can be wrapped around wires to conceal them. The ones I have seen were on some high-end stereo consoles.
- Never overload an electrical outlet with multiples of extension chords. We have all seen the pictures of the outlets that are overloaded. It is bad to do this, it is dangerous, and nobody needs a fire as the result. So, don’t plug too many things into outlets. Don’t plug many extension chords into a single power strip. Use common sense, if you think or ask is this too many things plugged in, it probably is.
I prefer to see the wires and having instant access to them is good for me. If you have any ideas, suggestions, or thoughts on wiring or a way you conceal them, please share them in a reply below.
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