I'm a cable hoarder. What's your worst habit?

Hello. My name is Peter and I'm a cable hoarder.

I don't mean cable TV cable. I mean cables, in general. I have a tendency to keep cables long after I know I don't need them, because I'm afraid I will need them. Does that ever happen to you?

I had cause to clean out my office this week, and it became really obvious to me that I have a problem. At one point I uncovered a rat king of cables - power cables, USB, even telephone wire - that I think had grown over a period of four or five years, transferred from drawer to drawer until no office furniture could contain it.

I sat there on the floor of my office for about an hour, slowly unraveling this Gordian knot of insulated wire (and wondering where my life had gone wrong). Then it dawned on me that it wasn't the only nest of cable I had. I opened up a couple of boxes that I'd set aside probably a year ago and found more in there.

The problem is that I'm desperately afraid to throw away a cable, because I fear I might need it later.

This was driven home to me when I found a stash of white cables that came off Apple laptop power adapters. There were four of them together. My burn rate on Apple's laptop power adapters is about once every 24 months (typically the end near the Magsafe adapter wears out), which means there were eight years of those lying in wait. I also found three "duck heads" - the collapsable part of that adapter that plugs into the wall, without a cable attached.

And for what? I was convinced I'd need another one of those cables at some point because I'd lose the one with the power supply.

OK, I admit, that has happened to me before, which has probably made me more paranoid than I need to be about making sure I have a spare. But I had a spare of a spare of a spare.

Like I said, I'm a cable hoarder.

I admit that I don't have much of a use for the telephone wire anymore. But back in the day, I connected legacy Macs and network printers using PhoneNet adapters, which use phone wires to work. I've also needed fax send/receive capabilities at various points. So that's been my justification to keep them.

The worst offender - even worse than data cables - are power cables. Power cables, especially ones that terminate in wall warts, too often get separated from their respective peripherals in my office and I end wondering a) where that adapter went, and b) which one went with which device.

A few years ago I tried to get things straight by labeling them, but the labels I used were weak and peeled off. So that ended sooner than it should have.

Even though most of the computers I use can communicate via BlueTooth, most of my peripherals still demand a USB connection. Some work by FireWire. And a couple of the newer ones use Thunderbolt. I'm talking about hard drives, special devices like label printers, and game controllers.

I'm slowly weeding those out over time. I hope to be rid of anything requiring cabling - except for displays and the obligatory power cables - within the next year or so. I'm migrating my storage needs either to the cloud or to network attached storage (NAS) rather than needing a separate device on my desk. But for now I'm stuck with them.

The only big exception I'll make is for mechanical keyboards. I do love me some clickety-clack keyboards, and with a few exceptions (like Matias' excellent Laptop Pro), USB connectivity is pretty necessary.

Long term, I've just got to get better about making sure that I only keep what I absolutely need instead of what I think I might use somewhere down the road.

They say the first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem, so I'm partly hoping that this heartfelt confession will get me going down that road. But sometimes it's tough. The tendency is still there to just stick that cable in a box or a drawer someplace rather than taking it to the recycling center.

How about you? Have you run into a problem keeping track of all your spare cables? Or do you have another tendency regarding your computer equipment that causes problems? What did you do about it? Or is this my own private Idaho? Sound off in the comments.

Peter Cohen