Network Cable Management Guide

No one wants to walk into your data center or any server room and see a mass of wires that look like multi-colored spaghetti dangling from the back of a server rack. Looking like the tentacles of Cthulhu, this sight can be just as scary.
Truth be told, it can be must as deadly, too. Misrouted cables, unorganized cables, and that “spaghetti mess” can inhibit airflow, increase temperatures, lead to premature wire and component failure, and can drastically increase maintenance time. Following this Network Cable Management Guide will ensure you stay organised and efficient.

Table of Contents:

5 Ways Effective Cable Management Benefits Your Data Center - Cable Management Blog
How to Avoid a Spaghetti Mess of Network Cables

The key is to stay organized out of the gate. A little time invested at the start or when installing new hardware, prior proper planning, and organization can save you a ton of time and expense in the long run.

Where do you get started? Here is a network cable management guide that will help you keep your network organized from the start.

Cable Rack Size Matters

The truth is as demand for speed and data increases, so does the size of components. That means more data centers are moving to 23” or wider racks rather than the former 19” server racks. Why does that matter to network cable organization?

Cables 3 Horizontal Zero U Server Rack Cable Management - Rack Management
Horizontal Zero U Server Rack Cable Management. Our intelligently designed rack organizers maximise your data center server rack space and reduce rack management equipment costs

Because all of your components for vertical or horizontal organization are based on rack size or are adjustable. From 1U or ZeroU rack cable managers (sometimes called horizontal lacing bars) to 11RU or 22RU vertical cable managers, rack size matters.

Horizontal and Vertical Organization

Speaking of horizontal and vertical cable management, there are different standards for each, and different lengths and types available. ZeroU cable management offers better cable management while taking up no valuable rack space. There are ZeroU racks in both 19” and 23” configurations. These rack cable management shelves will work with almost any existing rack, and they help maximize server rack space.

This can be especially vital when adding new hardware. Often limited floor space means limited space for racks as well, so the more shelf space one can save the better.

Vertical cable managers allow cables to be easily routed, keeps them visible, but also still allows for port access. There are a variety of solutions depending on the needs of your data center, but most will fit almost any rack type or size.

Label Me, Please

Rack size, rack cable management accessories: yes these are both important things. But another important aspect of network cable management? Labeling. Don’t skimp on the labeling of cables and connections.

UniTag Cable Labels - Installed Horizontal UniTag Reusable Cable Labels
UniTag Cable Labels – Our reusable cable labels allow you to mark and identify virtually any size cable or group of network cables and reduce your cable label costs

This may seem like a real pain when you are initially installing cables, but how often have you said later, “I wish I had labelled that.” Labels will save you a lot of work in the long run, but only if you use them properly.

  • Label both ends of all types of cables.
  • Have a consistent labeling structure.
  • Make sure other installers and maintenance personnel understand your labeling system and that it is clearly defined in writing.

An unclear or inconsistent labeling structure is just as useless as not having one. And failing to label everything on both ends will bring confusion too. It is better to over label than not label enough.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Okay, let’s be real here. First, cable length matters. One of the primary causes of cable management issues that look like a spaghetti monster? Cables that are too long. Not only is this a waste of cable, but that extra cable has to go somewhere. An extra foot of cable can easily result in a tangle.

So use the right length of cable. Measure everything, measure twice, and cut once.

Be the Terminator

Wiggle cables once you install them. If you lose a connection, redo the termination. Terminate correctly, and don’t rush the process to save time. It will cost you time, effort, and even money later on. Terminations are one of the biggest keys to efficient network cable management.

Be the terminator

So be the terminator. Terminate carefully and properly and test your terminations as you perform installations. Otherwise, like the Terminator in the movie, you’ll be saying, “I’ll be back.”

Avoid Sharp Bends

Cables may look tough, and they are, but sharp bends are not their friend or yours. This can be especially tempting when you are adding components or short on space. But don’t be tempted by this shortcut.

Don’t unnecessarily twist, bend, or crimp cables. It can result in data loss, speed loss, and irregular network cable behavior. The biggest issues facing data centers today are speed, data volume, and up time. Bending cables in ways they shouldn’t be is a sure way to compromise all three.

Cheap Solutions Usually Aren’t Solutions

Everyone loves saving money but remember that cheap cables are usually just that: cheap. To reduce costs, companies will compromise on sheathing, cable diameter, strength, and more. You might save money in the short term, but the cost in the long term will be much greater.

Shop by brand and get your cables from a reputable supplier. At AnD Cable Products we strive to always offer the best, most reliable, and longest lasting cables and rack cable management products to ensure you get the best results over the long run.

Cheap solutions usually aren’t. They are usually problems in disguise, and will result in other issues long term.

Just My Type

You should isolate cables by type. There are a couple of simple reasons for this, and this is where cable managers and hangers come into play.

  • Isolate cables to avoid interference with other types of cables.
  • Isolate cables to make connections easier to trace and troubleshoot.
  • Isolate cables for easy access.

A common example is the isolation of power cables, which can cause electromagnetic interference with network cables, causing some serious issues over the long run. This also helps avoid tangling and the common spaghetti mess.

Velcro Sticks with You

Color Rolls - Cable Wrap-Lite Velcro One Wrap Die Cut - Cable Management
Velcro Wrap-Lite One Wrap – Die Cut or Roll. Our network cable management range helps you manage cable bundles in any environment using velcro cable straps of all types and sizes

There are places where plastic cable ties work well, but often when bundling large amounts of wire or when additions may be needed later, Velcro Cable Managers are a much better solution.

  • It’s reusable and easy to undo and redo.
  • It can hold a lot of weight.
  • It’s easy to re-bundle later on.
  • It can be cut to any length you need.

In most cases, Velcro is simply a much better solution than regular plastic ties, and in the long run is more economical, too. We have a variety of Velcro products to meet your data center needs.

Minimize Risk, Maximize Uptime

Network cable management is a vital part of any data center. It’s better to have a plan at the start and organize things from the beginning, whether you are just building your data center or whether you are expanding in response to increased demand.

From rack size to labels, from labels to Velcro, every part of rack cable management can make a huge difference to the bottom line. So don’t risk shortcuts and cheap components. Instead, maximize your profits and uptime by doing things right the first time. Your future self and your customers and clients will thank you for it.

Have questions about network cable management, or need a dependable supplier who offers personal service every step of the way? Contact AnD Cable Products today. We’d love to start a conversation about meeting your needs.

Horizontal Zero U Cable Management Shelf

Zero U Position - Horizontal Zero U Cable Management Shelf - Rack Management

1U Mount Horizontal Zero U Cable Management Shelf - Rack Management

19″ x 2.8″ or 3.8″ deep

Front View 19" x 6" Horizontal Zero U Cable Management Server Rack - Rack Management

19″ x 6″ deep

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About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
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