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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.

  • <collective group voices> Hi Peter!
  • Me too - I have tons of cables from devices I no longer use kept around "just in case." It's a sickness.
  • I have the same problem, plus power packs. I'll throw away some type of peripheral but feel compelled to keep the cables and power adapter. Just the other day I recycled an old 2003 PC, and took a few cables off the mother board and tossed them into my parts box. Go figure.
  • Oh God, I must join in also -- cable hoarder here. There's always that case where a USB, video, power or Ethernet cable "might" be needed by myself or I can be the hero to someone else and give them something. I have Ethernet cables from 3" to 100" in length. I even keep the ol' parallel printer cables! Lord knows why! This gets embarrassing when you see it typed out, rather than just knowing one is a hoarder! Quick, someone give us a great reason to downsize before we drown in our own spaghetti!!! ;-)
  • I’ll just say this, FIREWIRE CABLES! Call me if you ever need some...
  • It's not hoarding if you actually use the cable! I keep AT LEAST one of everything. I have cables in my bag that are literally worth their weight in gold. Protip: If you travel; most hotels keep a pile of cables/power adapters. Just ask and most will let you rummage!
  • I too am a cable hoarder. To make it worse I don't have an inventory of my extra cables so when I do need something I am likely to buy new which defeats the purpose of hoarding the cables. The cycle continues. Sent from the iMore App
  • i am a receipt hoarder
  • I am with you, I have guitar cables, that do not work, and keep saying I can replace the bad connection, and fix the cable. Mic cables, phone cables, who knows what it is cables. I discovered zip ties. All my mess is now a neat mess. Get some zip ties. I also keep ac/dc converters, zip tied up. That came in handy only once when my cable box quick. the converter went bad. I had one that would work, so that justified keeping the rest.
  • I have same problem and so sad, really. I've got bags of cables that I weeded from the rest to get rid of, and have not, "just in case". I blame the rapid rise in prices for basic cables at brick & mortar stores - I look at old usb cable and quickly add up the Best Buy price... I am rich! (not really.) And for every home-based cable combo, you've got to have a travel version! I agree that my best medicine is to get everything wireless as quickly as possible.
  • Man. I couldn't do that. The misses would kill me. She always says "if you don't use it, bung it" "that's what the shops are for". Needless to say we're not very materialistic in our house, because we never get the chance too hang on to anything, I've just had a thought...
  • iPhone case hoarder.
  • Right there with you, buddy.
  • this is how i am I have two these filled up now with just cables
  • I tend to horde boxes, just incase i need to "return" something, or I eventually sell it on crags list or ebay.
  • Wow that's a lot of boxes there. The problem with them is that they occupy more space than cables. Be careful, the moment they sleep with you on gotta seek help lol.
  • I've still got quite a few ADB, SCSI and Centronics cables. There's no way they're ever going to get used again, but it seems somehow wrong to throw them out. Then there's my collection of left over wall wart power supplies.
  • One day, that stuff may make you (or your children) filthy rich as a gold mine of technology relics!
    xD Sent from the iMore App
  • Hello, my name is Andy and I hoard cables.
    I have a carton of several kinds of SCSI cables, another of PS2 cables and adapters. Serial, parallel, proprietary KVM...
  • I keep computer cables telephone cords computer keyboards, I always think I will or someone else will need them. Sent from my iPhone using iMore Forums Mobile App!
  • I am so glad I'm not alone! xD
    And what have I here in the midst of CAT 5, USB, & telephonies...
    ...SCSI cables?!
    ...A Parallel cable?!!
    Peter, I've taken comfort in knowing I can recycle some of these things and provide additional resources back into the world for making new things for me to collect and cherish...
    "My precious." Sent from the iMore App
  • I've got a Rubbermaid container full oaf cables, mostly of the analog audio variety.
  • I guess we all call it Obsessive compulsive disorder, I've got it as well. I'm a cable hoarder, tried everything but I still keep collecting.
  • It only takes that one time being right—having just the right cable in a pinch—then it sets in for life. <sigh>
    And Simon's set up looks scarily like my own.
  • I put too much sugar in my coffee. I don't hoard anything. I loathe clutter. I've don't have cds or dvds because they need to be stored and that means shelves and clutter. I got went digital with all that stuff. I do have a box of cables though because many are perfectly good and as i change components or buy new ones you never know what you'll need. But things i don't need get tossed like a bundle of phone cable i had. In fact i kept my old ipod charging cables and now now i keep one in the car to charge my phone on the road.
  • I too am a cable hoarder. I didn't know it until recently though. It just sort of happened I guess. My wife has been on a selling/donating rampage with old stuff in the basement. I realized the amount of cables I had collected while trying to save my stuff from being sold. I did go through most of them and get rid of cables that are so outdated that I could never possibly need them. I am struggling to get rid of my network cables for some reason though. The whole house is set up wireless and yet I keep thinking that there may be a need someday....
  • I also have a box full of wires, power adaptors, etc that I keep for future reference. The main reason being that in the history of time, no two power adaptor plugs have ever, Ever, EVER been the same for any two devices, thereby necessitating the keeping of every possible power adaptor and cable for those adaptor in the futile hope that someday that connector might be useful again.
  • "Hello. My name is Peter and I'm a cable hoarder" Helloooo Peeeter. -Cable hoarders anonymous reunion.
  • I have bunch of Ethernet cables eating dust in my drawer. My wife keeps yelling at me to dump 'em but I never throw ..U never know when you need them!! Sent from the iMore App
  • I do that to. I use the mantra that they may be of use. Case in point. I have a Bluetooth headset that my wife just found out doesn't work on the iPhone 5. This headset is over 4 years old. I through it away, but kept the charging cable just in case it came in handle for something else that I have, but have forgotten about.
  • "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..." Me too. I have plenty of translucent blue, orange, and green USB cables. From way back when iMacs were made of translucent colored plastic and OEMs were copying that look. And many Firewire cables that are completely useless since neither my iMac nor MBP have Firewire jacks of any kind. I also have a huge box full of audio / video connectors. S-Video, stereo audio, speaker cables, I.LINK (Sony's name for Firewire), ad nauseam. Not to mention the box of power cables.
  • I am a habitual phone switcher. I cannot keep a phone for to long cuz I get bored. Since 02 when I had my first cell phone in 12th grade I've had like 30 phones. Most have been bought/sold on eBay. Currently using the Nokia 1520 and it's cool but I'm kinda missing iOS. I know I'll come back eventually then get bored again. No perfect phone. I wish I could have a phone and keep it for a 2 year period smh
  • Hi, my name is Brian and I am a cable hoarder. I have a two sizable boxes in the top of my closet containing home entertainment cables: coaxial, telephone, HDMI, A/V, extension cords, power for every gaming console, VCR and DVD player, USB (mini, micro, whatever), surge protectors, and speaker wire even though everything hooked up to sound in the whole damned house is now wireless... Each of our 3 cars has at least 2 lightning cables and one micro USB cable. I have Macbook chargers stashed at both offices, home, and a spare that I carry in my backpack. We clean out our house every year before Christmas to prepare for the influx of junk that comes with the holidays. Every year my wife asks me to get rid of some cables. Every year I look at her like she has lost her mind. My only saving grace is that I keep every cable bound with a zip tie or twist tie. Sent from the iMore App
  • I do not think you are a true tech geek (aka fan) unless you hoard cables. I have boxes of cables audio/video/computer related.
  • My worst habit is crystal! I need that blue stuff daily! Bring Back Mr White!!! Nah but seriously, I do have a serious cable problem also,
  • Cut the cords Peter. I only have a few cords. I wish technology would move into wireless power cords. That would reduce the additional cords. Sent from the iMore App
  • Good for you, I used to save all cables and threw them away later needing them Sent from the iMore App
  • Count me in. I have cables whose device they belong to were thrown away years ago. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have lots of modern/useful cables but I also have many parallel/phone/RCA cables that will never be used again. Sent from the iMore App
  • Guilty. Way too many RJ-11s, a bunch of low-grade Ethernets, and a crapload of USB 2.0 and Firewire 400s… all sorted into individual ziploc bags. Some of those need to go away soon, either in a Goodwill box or in the e-waste haul. Your article is a good reminder of that. My solution for wall-wart power cables: label them with red sharpie. It's reflective enough to read.
  • Hi Peter, My name is Alex and i also have the same affliction, I am currently moving house and have three large boxes of cables that i keep 'Just in case' I have numerous telephone cables and USB to Mini-B that will probably never be satisfied in their purpose, banished to the dark depths of a store room with no hope of meeting their devices or a computer port. Even my wife has noticed my hoarding of such cables and my go to response is 'why would i want to bin them, only to have to buy one later!', This response is wearing thin and i would not be surprised if these boxes 'got lost' during the move. My only saving grace is that she too is a hoarder, but of empty perfume bottles and shoes! I may spend some time to sort them out and remove the metal from these cables to get scrap value back although this may only amount to pennies. Until then i will continue to visit my monthly (C)able (H)oarder (A)nonymous meetings