Cabling Tips & Tricks for Network Engineers

Cabling Tips & Tricks

Is your network cabling starting to look like a spaghetti bomb has exploded on your rack?

Sounds amusing, but the harsh reality is that improper cabling can lead to heat retention, untimely hardware failure and maintenance headaches, and just by investing a little time in proper planning and organization it’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about down the road.

In this post we’ll explore how you can keep your network cabling organized and give it the care and attention it deserves to assure network reliability and cable longevity.

Here are our top eight handy cable management tips for network engineers and cable installers:

  1. Don’t skimp on the labels
    How many times have you thought, “Oh, I wish I’d labeled this”? Labeling seems like a cumbersome task when you’re actually doing it but really pays off in the long run. The key to proper labeling is to make sure you label both ends of the network cables, power cables, patch cables or any other cable type involved in the installation. Also make sure your labeling is consistent so that you or any other installer can easily decipher what goes back where. You’ll thank yourself later.
  2. Measure everything
    Heard the old saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” In network cabling this is one old but important saying to remember. Reduce expensive cable waste by carefully measuring your cables. This will lead to less tangles and reduce cost. Every foot of wasted cable adds up. So make sure to measure twice and cut once.
  3. Cable length matters
    What’s better – choosing exact cable lengths, or leaving some room for slack? Network engineers have conflicting views over this. What we’ve seen is that in almost every case messy cabling is to be blamed on improper cable length. Using shorter cables where possible is best practice however using custom cables is actually the best solution so you get the exact cable length you need with no excess.
  4. Avoid sharp bends
    Cables might look fairly robust and flexible but they do require proper care and handling. Don’t compromise cable integrity by twisting cables around sharp bends. Constant bending can damage network cables leading to speed loss, irregular network cable issues and poor data transmission.
  5. Take your time to terminate
    We can’t stress on this point enough. Practice proper termination at any cost. Take the extra time, and if you find that a connection is lost if you wiggle the cables, redo it. You may want to rush this process to save time but when everything is said and done you’ll end up with a colossal problem if you have to troubleshoot and fix all those terminations.
  6. Don’t buy cheap because they’re cheap
    When it comes to cables, there’s a reason why cheap is cheap. Most often cheap cables and patch cords have sub-standard sheathing and narrow diameter copper cores which can cause signal loss. A smaller copper core can also be more fragile and weak, and more likely to bend, snap or stretch – leading to an increased rate of cable failure. When buying cables it’s good practice to shop by brand to find your cable of choice.
  7. Isolate cable by type
    Separate different types of cable into different runs. Cable managers and hangers can come in handy here. This allows for easy access and minimizes interference between different cable types. Especially if you are bundling power cables for instance they can cause electromagnetic interference with surrounding network cables so separate them.
  8. Velcro saves the day
    Velcro ties have many advantages over standard plastic ties any day. They are easy to add, remove and are completely reusable. What makes them especially effective is when you’re mounting a big bundle of cable into an anchor point inside a rack, a good strong velcro wrap and tie can hold the weight and makes it easy to re-bundle later on. Velcro also cuts easily to any length you need it to be.
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