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I'm looking for some feedback from someone who has used heat-shrink labels for cable management/identification in a server room environment.

Specifically, I'm looking at the Brady IDXPERT printer with something like the XPS-375-CONT (.645" x continuous length, 3:1 shrink).

Please let me know your thoughts on heat-shrink vs. laminate or any other label type.

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Related question ... serverfault.com/questions/59996/… –  tomjedrz Oct 26 '09 at 21:03
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6 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I like the idea of heat shrink labels, but after some use I have found them to be over-rated for the server room.

1- They are a lot of work to apply. You need the label printer and the blow dryer. It takes a while.

2- They are doubly difficult to apply in a tight space.

3- They are difficult to remove without risking damage to the cable.

4- You need a second labeler for the flat stuff.

5- Plain labels with strong adhesive (or covered with a layer of clear packing tape) do just fine in virtually every application in the server room.

Just my $0.02

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Thanks, that's what I was afraid of. We have more than enough fun things to do without needing another toy. –  user10234 Oct 27 '09 at 3:08
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The best I have seen are self-laminating labels. They are a strip of tough, clear tape with a small, white printable area at one end. They are trivial and fast to create and apply. There are varieties for laser printers (on a sheet) and for label makers (on a spool). I've only used the laser printer variety. I have never seen one fall off or become unreadable whre almost all others have.

Many manufacturers out there. My first hit on google is this company (there are other sizes and types).

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I don't label the cables as a rule. The problem with labeling the cables is that the label itself always manages to be where you can't read it. Instead, I use a database that identifies the end points of each cable. Not just in the server room but throughout the building. Then, knowing where one end is I can easily look up where the other end is, assuming the database is properly maintained of course.

To make things easier I periodically print out the database twice, each copy sorted by one of the end points. Any changes are hand written in as they are made and updated in the database as soon as practical. All changes are double checked prior to the next printout. This may not be ideal in a large shop, as the maintenance may not be performed as it should and may even be far too much work, but it certainly works well in a one or two man shop.

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The best addition to this would be to use cables with foot markings and then you record the foot numbers of each end-point. From that you could take any cable, even in the middle, and look it up in your database. –  chris Oct 27 '09 at 3:07
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You might find the answers in this thread interesting, too

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You may be dead set on the heat shrink labels, but I personally prefer the IDPal. It prints out so that the label is applied "normally" and you can even have multiple lines. We bought our first one because the electricians that run most of our cabling suggested it (it's the one they use as well) and have not been disappointed.

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Same here -- the heat shrink labels seem like a nice idea, and in some situations it might be ideal, but I found it cumbersome.

I just use a Brother label maker with 1/2" laminated white tape looped over the cable as a flag. Everyone else seems to do it this way, too -- nearly every data center I've been in does it this way.

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