The increasingly digital nature of IT can make us forget how important physical cabling is. However, ignoring best practices for creating a physical network can lead to decreased efficiency, increased risk of network issues, and even physical injury. Here are a few do's and don'ts of network cabling that you should follow to ensure your network's physical infrastructure remains efficient, effective, and safe for years to come.
Do: Plan your network cabling infrastructure
Create a detailed, visual representation of your network that you can refer to both during setup and maintenance/troubleshooting. Include distances, types of cables, the type and number of devices that are connected, etc. With a meticulous blueprint of your physical cabling, you can see snags, bottlenecks, and safety hazards before they manifest and cause problems.
Do: Scout ahead for potential hazards
Before installation, thoroughly check the areas where the cables will run through and rest. Look for any potential causes of interference, damage, or danger to employees. While some hazardous areas are obvious, long-term risks may be apparent only after some time has passed. Some potentially hazardous areas include:
- Water sources, such as sinks, water fountains, or toilets
- Areas that experience excessive heat, such as those near heating vents or large machinery
- Surfaces where employees will have to walk over the cables
- Areas exposed to animals
- Electrical wiring or other sources of magnetic interference, such as a microwave
- Anything that might come in contact with the cable and cause damage, such as a cabinet door opening and closing, or direct sunlight
This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you see an area that you think might cause problems, do some research and make sure it’s safe.
Do: Color code and label everything
Your cables might look nice and organized right after you set them up. However, when you fix or upgrade your network later on, you might find a quagmire of tangled cables. You probably won’t also remember what cables you put where, so it’s important to clearly label each line, and color code your cables by device or area. This way, you can easily find what you are looking for and not accidentally pull on the wrong cable.
Don’t: Leave network cables out or unsecured
Cable management is one of the most vital parts of network cabling, as this reduces the risk of accidents and minimizes wear and tear. It involves utilizing:
- Zip ties/velcro straps to bundle cables together
- Table/desk clips to keep workstations clear
- Floor covers (the ones that look like small plastic speed bumps) for cables to prevent tripping and excessive wear
Don’t: Bundle everything together in one line
It can be tempting to strap every wire and cable into one bundle to save time and space, but this can cause more problems later on if you mix data and power cables. Keeping these different cables in close proximity not only leads to excess heat and risk of accident but it can also introduce interference into your network, reducing data transfer speeds.
Don’t: Use whatever cable you have on hand
Choosing the right cable for a given connection is a delicate balance. On one hand, you don’t want the cable to be too short, as stretching and stress will cause excessive wear and might even cause damage to other devices. However, you also don’t want the cables to be too long, as this takes up usable space, increases tangle and trip risk, and can result in slower connection speeds.
The easiest way to avoid this problem is to work with an experienced network cabling services provider. They can easily measure and create custom cables for each of your network’s connections.
Do: Put the time in to make an excellent network
The more time and care you put into your cable network now, the longer it will last and the better its performance. If your LA or Orange County business needs professional assistance to ensure an efficient network that stands the test of time, contact CDS. We have decades of experience that enable us to provide network cabling services quickly and efficiently.