Question from Judy C.: Rick, how do you manage so many cords on these stupid contraptions? They are confusing and they are dust collectors.
I’m wanting to rearrange the locations of all the parts of my computer setup, but I don’t even know where to begin. Right now, as I try to sort this out, I am using my mouse with my left hand.
I fear that if I start disconnecting things, I will never be able to put them together again. (Phone, hard drive, screen, scanner, router, some other boxes of some dang stuff.)
What do you recommend? Also, is there a way to shorten the cables?
Rick’s answer: I know what you mean Judy. Managing all the cables that connect our gadgets to our computers can be a real pain.
First of all, don’t be too concerned about getting everything plugged back in correctly. Truth be told, there really is very little chance of “messing things up”.
Your monitor and modem cables will typically only plug into one specific connector on your PC, and all of the USB cables will plug into any available USB port with no problems.
That being said, I do recommend plugging your external USB hard drive into one of the USB ports on the back of your computer. Also, any devices that support USB 3.0 should be plugged into USB 3.0 ports on your computer (if it has them) in order to maximize the data transfer speeds.
Most of your devices probably plug into USB ports, and one of the best ways to get those cords out of sight and out of mind is by using a high quality USB hub. In your case, I recommend a powered USB hub instead of a passive hub since you need to connect an external USB hard drive.
You can plug your printer, scanner, hard drive, mouse, keyboard…pretty much all of your USB devices into the hub and keep all of those connections behind your computer and out of the way (not to mention out of sight). That way you would have just a single USB cable connecting the hub to the computer.
I really like this great powered USB hub from Anker. (#ad)
This hub has 7 USB 3.0 ports and it will supply enough power to keep your external hard drive and other devices humming right along.
To answer your second question, there is really no practical way to shorten your cables, but you can replace some of your existing cables with shorter ones.
The good news is short cables are actually quite inexpensive. As of this writing, Amazon has some great deals on 3 foot USB cables (#ad) and this 3 foot Ethernet patch cable (#ad) (for connecting your PC to your router).
If you really want to make your desk/work area as neat and clutter free as possible, you can eliminate some of the cables entirely by replacing a few of your gadgets with inexpensive wireless models. Here are a few suggestions:
1 – If you have a wireless router, you can eliminate the Ethernet cable by purchasing a wireless Ethernet adapter. Just plug it into an open USB port and you can connect your computer to the Internet via Wi-Fi. The best part is you don’t have to spend a small fortune on one. In fact, this tiny little gem from Edimax (#ad) costs around $10, and it works great! I’ve used one of them for a couple of years, and I love it!
2 – If your mouse and keyboard are of the old wired variety, you can replace them with a wireless mouse/keyboard kit like this great package deal from Logitech. (#ad)
Both the keyboard and mouse work with the same tiny USB receiver, which means you can connect both devices wirelessly while using just one open USB port.
3 – Although you don’t have to do it right now, when it comes time to replace your existing USB printer you can purchase a wireless printer and eliminate yet another cable. I won’t recommend a specific printer because the printer that’s best for you will depend on what you will be using it for. But Amazon has a great selection of wireless printers (#ad) to choose from.
By the way, if you want to, you can easily convert your existing printer into a wireless printer by installing an inexpensive wireless print server.
These are just a few of the options you have available to you Judy. I wish you all the best. Good luck!
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