Do you have a box or drawer of cables that you are afraid to throw away? Chances are that you do, since nearly all of my clients have them!
The cables that you use on a frequent basis are most likely not in this box or drawer. They are in more active places in your home or office. So these mystery cables are probably not useful for you and can be responsibly discarded.
Here is an excellent on-line guide to figuring out what those cables are: A Visual Guide to Computer Cables and Connectors. Use this guide to identify what types of cables you have, and group them together by type.
After you’ve sorted these cables into their different types, pull out all the devices that you aren’t using frequently and start matching them up with the cables. (If the cables have brand names on them, that’s always helpful!) Once you’ve made a match, wrap the cable around the device, or put them together into a Ziploc bag.
If you can’t figure out what a cable is for, get rid of it. And come to think of it, what about those devices you aren’t using frequently? Maybe it’s time to get rid of those, too. (Please check with your local sanitation department to find out how to responsibly discard electronics).
How to prevent mystery cables in the future? As soon as you get a new device, label the cables that come with it.