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6 Cable Management Tips For Network Engineers

6 Cable Management Tips For Network Engineers
The Siliconreview
26 July, 2021

Network cables require delicate care to ensure that they offer optimum network speed and protect them from internal cable destruction. Best practices require good cable organization and the use of recommended manufacture cable standards. If you're a network engineer, you ought to be familiar with networking protocols for easy network maintenance, network diagnosis, troubleshooting, easy network expansion, and documentation. 

Good cable management does not only apply to network cables, like ethernet cables, but also to electrical cables. If you're a beginner in internet networking or electrical networking, you need to understand the basics that apply in your field for cable management.

To help you out, here are six ways in which you can manage your cables:

1. Ensure Cable Protection

Cable protection is the key to ensure that there is continuity throughout the cable loop. Your cable can be protected at the ending as it enters a piece of equipment and also through the network path. Your cables need to be protected from interference by the movement of people and also destruction from rodents and other pests. 

Electrical cables can be secured in a piece of equipment using cable glands, whether plastic cable glands or metallic cable glands. They are also referred to as cable fittings, cable connectors, cable strain reliefs, or cord grips. Cable glands are used to secure cable ends and retain them in a piece of equipment so that the cable doesn't come out or get twisted. 

Another gadget that is used to protect cables is the cable grommet. A grommet is a ring or a tube that you pass an electrical cable through.

You can insert them in holes of certain materials to protect the cables, improve on friction, cover the cables that are passing through it from potential chemical or mechanical attacks. Cable grommets are either made of metal or rubber. 

2. Label Your Cables

Labels are like names to a cable. They guide the network engineer in identifying and differentiating cables. If you're to sort a network problem, you use labels to know which cable you're supposed to test for continuity from one point to another.

Assuming you have a server with over fifty ethernet cables that are feeding two switches, it would be very challenging knowing which cables run from a certain port of the server to which port of a switch. However, with labels, such cable confusion is eliminated. Thus, it's important to take a few minutes in cable labeling to save you from confusion in the future. 

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3. Measure Your Cables

Always avoid approximating the length of the cable that you need with your eyes. This is highly discouraged as you can end up cutting a shorter cable or a longer one.

When you cut a longer cable, you may need to reduce it, thus making the reduced piece of cable go to waste. In case you cut a shorter cable, you end up wasting it as you've to cut another piece of the correct length.

Some of the networking cables, such as fiber optic cables, are expensive; thus, any wastage is discouraged. To avoid such wastage, first, measure the distance of the place that you want to put your cable so that you can use the correct length. It's always said, 'measure twice and cut once.'

4. Avoid Cable Sharp Bends

Even though your cables may appear to be flexible, exercising good care is important to proper cable working. Sharp bends can result in cable integrity issues because the cable may get broken inside its cover. This may affect your network by having a slow network speed, the poor transmission of data, and irregular Internet issues. 

5. Don't Compromise Quality

Most of the time, cheap cables are manufactured with less copper and a diameter that is lower than the standard one, which may result in signal loss and imperfect signal transmission. When you link a non-standard copper cable with a standard one, it may result in more interference because of impedance mismatch causing signal reflections. Additionally, thinner cables are weaker and tend to snap easily. They are also prone to stretching, which increases their chance of failing.  

Moreover, a cheap cable may cause signal degradation. Other quality issues are non-pure copper cores, poor packaging, lack of quality control over twist ratios, and standard sheathing. 

6. Handle Cables Gently

You can damage your cables by pulling too hard, which causes strain to the copper core. When the core is pulled, it ends up thinning, thus affecting your signal performance. Overstretching may result in the unwinding of the sheath twists. The standard cable can withstand 110 Newtons as the maximum strain, which normal handling during cable installation is not easy to exceed. 

Final Thoughts

When you're networking your cables, be it ethernet cables or electrical cables, it's advised that you should employ best professional practices. Ensure that your cables are well protected, of high quality, well-labeled, don't have sharp bends, and are of the correct length before cutting them.