With the advent of all the new devices that have been created to interface with PCs and servers over the past decade, one of the biggest headaches that has emerged for IT professionals is managing the many tangles of cables that come from all of these devices and systems.

In the article “Clean up cable chaos with these cable organizing products,” I told you about several products that I used to clean up the computer cable mess in the cubicle areas at the office of one of my clients. I’ve been using those same products to clean up the cable messes at other client sites and have continued to achieve great results.

However, I recently discovered another product that offers a truly unique approach to the somewhat complex problem of computer cable management. The Cable-Safe Complete Cable Manager kit from the DeviceWorks Company is an all-in-one cable management solution that clamps under the desk or mounts to the wall and can single-handedly contain and organize up to 14 cables and a power strip, as well as hold a power adapter, a modem, or a hub. And best of all, the system is comprised of a set of interchangeable components that can be combined in any number of arrangements to allow you to create a customized cable organization solution. It works great in a server room as well as at the workstation.

I’ve found the Cable-Safe Complete Cable Manager kit to be such a useful solution that I thought other TechRepublic members would be interested in learning about it.

It’s deceivingly sturdy
I must admit that when I first saw the Cable-Safe Complete Cable Manager kit on the company’s Web site, I was a little skeptical. Anything that proposes to be an all-in-one solution, is made out of plastic, and claims to support up to 10 pounds just seems to be a little too good to be true. However, after I opened the first box and began to assemble the unit, I was immediately struck by how sturdy the Cable-Safe was. And then when I clamped it on to the desk and discovered how solid the mounting mechanism was, I couldn’t wait to begin putting the unit to use organizing cables in my home office of five computers.

What’s in the kit?
When you open the box for the Complete Cable Manager kit you’ll discover the main Cable-Safe components, which are the DeskClamp, the CableTrack, and three CableHooks, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
The main components of the Complete Cable Manager kit include the DeskClamp, the CableTrack, and three CableHooks.

The accessories, shown in Figure B, include a roll of 18 cable straps, a label sheet, four cable guides, three bungee straps, an alcohol pad, four screws, and the installation guide.

Figure B
The Complete Cable Manager kit accessories include a set of labels that you can use to keep track of your cables.

Assembling the kit
Assembling the main components for an under-desk installation is a snap, as shown in Figure C. The assembled unit shown here is about nine inches tall, 10 inches deep and seven inches wide.

Figure C
Assembling the main components of the Complete Cable Manager kit is easy.

Once assembled, you can use the clamp head mechanism to clamp the unit to a desk, either through the cable grommet hole or to the edge of the desk surface. If the desk doesn’t have a cable grommet hole or a surface edge, you can remove the clamp head mechanism and use the screws to mount the DeskClamp directly to the bottom of the desk.

After you’ve mounted the unit, you can loop your cables, secure them with the cable straps, and hang them from the cable hooks. You’ll then discover that the tops of the cable hooks form a shelf on which you can stack power packs or small devices such as a hub, router, or DSL modem. You then secure those devices with the bungee straps, which you fit into slots on the CableTrack. (Just a little hint: I’ve discovered that the bungee straps stay put better if you tie knots on each end.)

The Cable-Safe Web site has some great animated examples of the Cable-Safe Complete Cable Manager kit being assembled and put to use. You can even pause the animation at any one point to study the picture in more detail.

A versatile system
As I mentioned in the introduction, the Cable-Safe system is comprised of a set of interchangeable components that can be combined in any number of arrangements to allow you to create all sorts of customized cable organization solutions. This versatility is what I really liked about the product.

For example, if you have a lot of cables, you can add another CableTrack and two more CableHooks to the DeskClamp, as shown in Figure D. This configuration will allow you to easily organize 24 to 30 cables as well as double the number of devices that you can mount on the unit. (Remember, it can support up to 10 pounds.)

Figure D
Adding an additional CableTrack with CableHooks beefs up the system.

If using the extra capacity provided by the CableTrack is overkill for your cable mess, you can simply use the DeskClamp along with two CableHooks, as shown in Figure E. This configuration will allow you to easily manage 8 to 12 cables.

Figure E
Removing the CableTrack creates a scaled-down system.

If mounting the Cable-Safe to a desk with the DeskClamp isn’t feasible, you can just use the CableTrack along with two to four CableHooks, as shown in Figure F. You then mount the CableTrack right on the wall with the screws. I’ve found that the wall-mount configuration works very well in a server room. (Just a little hint: If the walls are made of drywall, you may want to use drywall screw anchors to keep the unit secure once loaded down with cables.)

Figure F
When using just the CableTrack, you’ll have room for four CableHooks.

Getting your Cable-Safe
You can purchase Cable-Safe products directly from the company’s Web site. Besides the Complete Cable Manager kit, which carries a retail price of $34.95, the Cable-Safe is available in two other kit configurations: The Space Saver kit, which comes with the DeskClamp and two CableHooks for $25.95, and the Expansion/Wall kit, which comes with the CableTrack and two CableHooks for $22.95. All of the kits include the set of accessories from Figure B. You can also purchase any of the main components or accessories separately, which is a plus if you want to build a customized solution to fit your needs.