Snazify Your Network Gear with Dust Covers and Marker Ties

I’m frequently asked for more details on the dust covers, cable ties, and cables used in the lab, along with where to buy them. Here’s a list of items I use to tidy things up, why I like them, and where you can get your mitts on ’em.

RJ45 Dust Covers

Amazon Link: R.J. Enterprises DC-0-RD RJ45 Jack Dust Covers Red

If a switchport is not in use, I insert a red RJ45 dust cover into the port. This has a few benefits:

  • It keeps the port sealed away from the environment (moisture, dust, cat dander, etc.)
  • Easy way to tell which ports are in-use or not when doing switch maintenance, such as when I replaced the fan in my HP V1910 and Cisco SG300.
  • Looks slick and professional. :)

Of the various ones I’ve tried, the RJ45 dust covers from R.J. Enterprises are my favorite, if not the most pricey. They are slightly flexible, tool-less, and fit snug without the need for a release or boot. I can easily remove one when I need to light up a port and put it back in the bag, or insert a bunch of them when I decommission a port or purchase a new switch. I also use them in my server NICs and other non-switch gear.

I have a 100 piece bag of dust covers that I dip into when needed. They come in various colors, but I’ve recently redone my cable colors in a black and red theme, so I chose red dust covers.

The network stack

I’ve used a few others that were disappointing because they fall out when you move the switch around or required tools. You get what you pay for.

SFP Dust Covers

Amazon Link: I/O Connectors SFP DUST COVER PLASTIC (apparently no longer sold by Amazon)

I use SFP dust covers for the same reason as the RJ45 covers. Amphenol sells black dust covers for a really great price in bulk. They snap into place easily and keep the SFP receptacles from turning into dust bunny bunkers. I find it amusing that you can buy 10,000 SFP dust covers on Amazon.

I’m not using any SFP ports on my switches, so you can see them in use on the HP V1910 below (marked CORE1) to the left of the console port.

Marker Cable Ties

Amazon Link: Monoprice Marker Cable Tie 4 inch 18LBS

I’ve talked about these in the past, but they are finally getting their own blog post. These are zip ties that have a small tab that you can write on with a sharpie. The bag comes with 100 marker cable ties. You can buy them direct from Monoprice or lump them into your Amazon cart through their Add-on program.

I write on the label tab, then zip tie a cable just before the boot and snip off the excess. It’s an easy way to identify where the cable is going.

marker-ties

You can also put another marker cable tie on the other end for a two-way directional label. :)

FLEXboot Cat6 UTP Cables

Last on the list is color coded Cat6 cables with FLEXboot. I tend to source these from Monoprice directly – here’s their inventory of Cat6 cables – and use specific colors.

The FLEXboot configuration is super nice. You get the anti-snag feature of a boot with a very finger-friendly, large sized release catch. If you’ve ever had to use a screwdriver to wedge a small / cheap boot out of a recessed NIC port, you’re due for some FLEXboot magic.

I have swapped out all of my cables for black and red FLEXboot Cat6 cables. Many of the cables on Monoprice are under $2, making this a small financial investment.