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My best desktop organization gadget is a humble carabiner

carabiner PCImage: Michael Crider/Foundry

I’m kind of obsessed with my desktop PC setup, since it’s where I do almost all of my work and a good chunk of my relaxation. There are a lot of us out there — just check out Reddit’s “battlestation” sub if you doubt me. And while I’ve recommended a bunch of small upgrades before, like a headset holder or power cable trays, the thing I use most often is a humble carabiner.

See, no matter how much of your system is fixed in place, eventually you just need a USB cable. As a huge fan of wireless gizmos I need to charge my keyboard, mouse, headset, gaming keypad thingie, and various other gadgets on a pretty regular basis, to say nothing of just transferring data or plugging in a microphone. There’s no such thing as a cable-free desktop, not even if you’ve spent literally hours on cable management like I have.

Michael Crider/Foundry

My solution is to make a sort of “key ring” for my most often-used external cables. I take my must-have data and charging cables, loop them loosely, then tie them in a knot so they can’t tangle with each other. And then I stick the top loop through a carabiner. I added a basic household hook to one of the legs of my standing desk to make sure they’re always in reach.

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At the moment my “key ring” has four cables on it, plus a flash drive, though I’ve added and subtracted over the years as needed. I have a MicroUSB-to-USB-A cable with Razer’s proprietary head, for infrequent charging of my Razer Naga Pro mouse and my customized keypad. I’ve got two USB-C-to-USB-A cables for various recharges and data transfers, most notably phones and tablets. And finally I have USB-C-to-USB-C for the occasional super-fast data from my camera connected via the front port on my desktop, or programming my Keychron keyboard with VIA.

I used to have an even older cable on there, MiniUSB-to-USB-A, to connect with my old Yeti microphone for meetings. But I equipped that sucker with a little adapter that’s permanently in place to cut down even more.

Michael Crider/Foundry

With the addition of a camera card reader, this covers my connection needs about 99 percent of the time, saving me from needing to dive into multiple drawers full of cable rat nests to hunt down something specific. All these are within reach in a few seconds, easy to remove via the carabiner loop, and often don’t even need me to untie them to accomplish my goal.

I should say that I’ve been told looping and tying these cables is bad for them, and will wear them out faster. That may or may not be true — in more than two decades working with computers professionally, I’ve only seen a cable wear out from overuse three or four times. And it’s not like these are hard to replace, and none of them are carrying dangerous amounts of electricity.

So yeah, I’d suggest this method for anybody who uses a desktop PC in conjunction with lots of wireless gadgets. You probably have a cheap carabiner lying around somewhere (I like Nite-Ize if you want to go fancy), and you can get a sturdy hook for just a few bucks. Give it a try, and I promise you’ll save yourself some time digging around for cables.

Further reading: These best USB-C cables for transferring data and charging

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

Recent stories by Michael Crider:

Corsair’s new One i500 desktop is tiny, pricey, and gorgeousJoin us for The Full Nerd episode 300 today at 3pm Eastern!Watch PCWorld build an invisible-cable desktop with Asus BTF parts

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