How to keep cables from breaking

Headphones rarely last more than a few years before the wires snap due to the constant movement they have to endure. Is there a way to stop me having to get out the soldering iron, or worse, buy a new pair?

6 Answers 6

I use cheapish Sony earbuds – great sound, but they tend to break every couple of years because the soldering inside the earbuds is pretty shoddy. Here’s a quick summary of all the advice I’ve found on keeping headphones safe; most of it is pretty obvious, but sadly I tend to ignore it because HARD WORK IS HARD.

  • Unplug the jack from your player when you’re not using it. If you have small earbuds, don’t wrap the cable around the player and stuff it in the case or in your pocket, as this puts strain on the jack and may even damage your player at the socket end.
  • Get a headphone case that lets you wind your cables around something. (Here’s a list of ideas, some better than others). Don’t want to buy one? Take a stiff piece of card and cut two notches in it, one for the jack and one for the earbud/headphone connection.
  • Avoid huge flapping lengths of cable – it’ll get caught on things and be painful, embarrassing, and eventually expensive. Pass the cable through your shirt, or under your coat or scarf.
  • For the same reason, always secure your player: either clip the case to your belt, trousers, etc, or zip the pocket tight.
  • Unplug headphones by pulling on the jack rather than the cable itself.
  • Do not sleep on, sit on, fling, or absent-mindedly nibble headphones.
  • Don’t follow my example and get headphones with good quality soldering.
  • . Or just throw in the towel and go wireless.

Tl;dr: most failures occur at the jack end or at the connection with the earpiece. Protect these parts from tugs and strain and you protect your headphones. (And I imagine mid-cable breaks will be less likely as well.)

From water damage to broken screens and everything in-between, we can fix it. And, if we find that your device is not repairable, we may be able to buy it or trade you for another device.From water damage to broken screens and everything in-between, we can fix it.And, if we find that your device is not repairable, we may be able to buy it or trade you for another device.

It seems that our charging cables always have a shorter lifespan than our phones, tablets, and laptops, but fortunately there are a variety of things that you can do to protect those charging cables from damage and everyday wear and tear. Here are a few tips on keeping your charging cables in pristine condition.

Use a spring from a pen to protect the end of the cable.

For smaller cables, try using a spring from a pen to prevent the charging end from breaking. Simply remove the spring from any pen, stretch it out slightly, and carefully roll it onto the cable. Then move the spring to the charging end of the cable. The spring will help prevent the end from bending too much, which is one of the most common causes of charging cable breakage.

Weave paracord around the end of the cable.

A more attractive method is to weave some paracord around the end of your cable. Simply “gut” a length of paracord by removing the white strand in the middle, and then melt the ends with a lighter or match to keep them from fraying. Then, start at the charging end of your cable and weave around the cable using a “cobra” knot. Finish it off after you’ve woven up 1 to 2 inches. Much like the pen spring, this will keep the end of your cable from bending too much.

Wrap cables correctly.

Many people wrap their phone and tablet cables the same way that those cables were wrapped by the manufacturer—in an back-and-forth fashion where the cable is bent sharply from side to side, then looped around itself to hold it secure. The problem with this, however, is that it can create sharp bends in the cable, which will ultimately result in kinks and worn down insulation. Instead of wrapping your cables in such a tight fashion, wrap your cables in loose loops. You can gently weave the ends of the cable between the loops to hold it secure, or hold it secure with a simple twist tie.

Don’t stretch the cable.

Sometimes we’re tempted to stretch a cable as far as it will go, forcing it into a socket even though it creates a sharp bend in the cable at the outlet. Creating a sharp bend in a cable, however, is never a good idea, as doing so repeatedly will eventually cause the end of the cable to break. Move closer to an outlet or reconfigure the cable’s position any time you would be forced to create a sharp bend in the cable.

It’s a fact of life. Cables break, usually at the worst times possible. However, these easy steps can breathe some extra life into your most commonly used cables.

How to keep cables from breaking

Cables often fray, but there are easy ways to keep them together a bit longer.

Most cables get plugged in and left alone for years at a time. All those power and HDMI cables connecting your home entertainment system together rarely get touched. The cables meticulously organized at your work desk may as well be cemented in place.

But the cables we use everyday — the computer and smartphone chargers — go through hell. They get twisted, yanked and bent on a daily basis, and they’re bound to fail at some point.

If one of your cables is beginning to fray, you can counteract the damage with one of these quick fixes.

Electrical tape

One of the most cost-effective fixes for a cable that’s about to meet its end is a bit of electrical tape. It’s not going to be pretty and it won’t be the most secure method. But electrical tape can be found for between $1 (about £0.69 in the UK or AU$1.39 in Australia) and $5 (£3.46 or AU$6.93) per roll.

Electrical tape isn’t pretty, but it’s generally cheap.

You can take your time neatly wrapping the cable to reinforce it, but the best way to prevent any more damage is to wrap the split or fraying part of the cable several times with electrical tape, then work your way out from that spot. This immobilizes any breaks in the cable and helps prevent further damage. Just don’t expect it to last forever.

Heat shrink

A more long-term solution is heat shrink. It’s also more costly and may not work if both ends of the cable are significantly larger than the diameter of the cable itself.

Heat shrink tubing comes in an array of sizes and can range from just a few bucks to upwards of $20 (£13.81 or AU$27.73) or $30 (£20.71 or AU$41.59) for an assortment pack.

When you find a size that will fit your fraying cable, slip it over one of the ends, position the heat shrink over the affected area and use a heat gun or hair dryer on high heat to activate it. The heat will cause the tubing to shrink and cling to the cable, immobilizing and reinforcing the damaged area.

10 old cables you should keep around (and 6 to toss)

Sugru

Sugru is simply great to have on hand for a number of reasons — one of those being old and worn out cables. It’s a putty-like substance that you can mold into virtually any shape, and once you let it sit and cure for approximately 24 hours, it becomes a very strong, rubber-like material.

Molding Sugru can help fix your wires.

If you mold the Sugru over the broken part of a cable, it can help prevent any more damage to that area. However, Sugru doesn’t come cheap. A 3-pack of single use packets of Sugru costs between $9 (£6.21 or AU$12.48) and $12 (£8.29 or AU$16.64). But it’s very reliable.

A repurposed spring

A DIY solution that might work for a short while is removing the spring from a retractable pen, stretching it out and wrapping it around the cable to reinforce it towards one of its ends.

The problem is, these springs, especially when stretched out, aren’t very rigid and they won’t protect the cable from being damaged further. An alternative, though, would be to install a spring over the damaged area, followed by some heat shrink tubing. The combination of the two materials will provide extra rigid reinforcement for little to no extra cost.

Cable savers

Broken cables are a nuisance so, to no surprise at all, a number of products exist to help counteract the daily wear and tear. Also not very surprising is how pricy those products are. The TUDIA Klips are about $7 (£4.83 or AU$9.70) for a pair, which is meant to protect a single Lightning cable. That’s almost one-third the price of an official Lighting cable from Apple.

Technically, they’re designed to help prevent damage, but they’ll also work if the ends of your cable — no doubt the most fragile part — have started to break. Slip one of the Klips over the cable and slide it up to the plastic connecter, then slide the lock over the Klip to secure it in place.

Searching Amazon for “cable protector” will return thousands of results for similar products.

It may be time for a replacement

If your MacBook or computer charger is beginning to give out, the cost of one of these fixes is usually a small fraction of the price of replacing the charger, which can often cost upwards of $80 (£55.24 or AU$110.90). If that’s the case, it’s probably best to explore your options before buying an entirely new charger.

That said, if you’re dealing with a broken micro USB, Lightning or even USB-C cable, in most cases, the best option is to just replace the cable altogether. These types of cables can often be replaced with reputable third-party options for between $5 (£3.45 or AU$6.93) and $10 (£6.90 or AU$13.85).

Although Apple is known for making some of the most durable gadgets, which can hold their value for longer compared with other brands, not the same thing can be said about their accessories and peripherals. Cables, in particular, have a reputation for breaking easily and not passing the test of time. As stylish and sleek as it may be, the Apple lightning cable is quite fragile and, if you are not careful, it will break. There are of course many stores, especially online, where you can buy a lightning cable at an affordable cost, but if you don’t want to do this every month, here are some tips to keep the cable in good condition.

How to keep cables from breaking

Avoiding damage to exposed pins

One of the design characteristics that sets the lighting cable apart from other cables is that it has exposed pins. So, if another cable could come in slight contact with liquids for a short time and not get damaged, the lightning cable will. So, make sure you never keep any liquids around it – especially if you’re in the car and you have a cup holder. If something does spill, make sure you wipe the pins immediately with a warm cloth. Apart from liquids, the pins could also get damaged if they are exposed to excess heat or dust. In general, you should try to keep your Apple lighting cable in a cool, dry place, such as a drawer or bag.

Do not bend or twist the cable

People who have phones from brands other than Apple are used to twisting and bending the charging cables, but, if you have an iPhone, this is a big no. Neither the coating nor the little wires inside are durable, so refrain from keeping the cable all tangled in your pocket or glove compartment. Also, when charging the phone, make sure it is on a straight surface and the cable isn’t bent. Keeping the cable at the wrong angle can bend and damage it. To prolong the life of your lighting cable, you can buy a small box for storage. If possible, avoid charging your phone in the car, because the cable will not sit at the right angle and it could get damaged.

The dangers of improvised solutions

Nowadays there are “life hacks” for everything. Including how to repair a lighting cable yourself and keep on using it even though it’s broken. However, you should refrain from applying these hacks, because they are rarely safe. Not only do you risk causing damage to the lightning port and phone battery, but improvised solutions also might cause a fire hazard. Battery and port damage are very expensive to repair, but not mention that they can void your warranty, so it is much wiser to simply buy a new lighting cable when one breaks. Although Apple lighting cables tend to be more expensive than those by other brands, you can still find many online discounts and buy a new cable for just a few dollars.

How to keep cables from breaking

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How To Prevent Lightning Cable From Breaking Or Fraying [Video]

One thing that generally sets Apple apart from its competition is the company’s dedication to produce innovative products that are crafted from the absolute best materials using the latest engineering techniques. And in some cases, even inventing new materials or engineering methods to take things to a different level. Unfortunately, even with the best will in the world, sometimes lapses in quality do make themselves known, which certainly seems to apply to Apple’s Lightning cables. Thankfully, there may be a solution, albeit a little cumbersome.

Apple’s introduction of the Lightning cable, as a direct replacement for the 30-pin solution that shipped with devices like the iPhone 4s, promised to bring with it an improvement in durability. Anyone who regularly uses a Lightning cable for charging or synchronization will know that this just isn’t the case. Some cables will suffer damage quicker than others, but a lot of users are complaining that simply manipulating the cable to fit into sockets or just generally using it causes the ends to fray in record time.

How to keep cables from breaking

The majority of the damage caused to the Lightning cable comes from twisting and manipulating it in a way that was not intended, which of course makes sense. Individuals are probably also guilty of yanking the cable out of the socket or the attached computer by actually grabbing the sheath of the cable rather than using the hard plastic connection. A relatively simple solution to the problem, albeit not exactly ideal, is to embark on a simple “life hack” by putting springs at both ends to ensure that the cable itself isn’t bent or manipulated in a permanent way that would cause harm to the surrounding sheath.

Check out the accompanying video for a short guide on how this can be achieved.

But what about if you already have a damaged cable? Should you wrap a spring around it to improve things? Rather than parting with cash or attempting some additional life hacks, it’s been reported that Apple will apparently offer a no hassle replacement within retail stores when presented with an accompanying iPhone or iPad. Of course, the cable is something that’s likely used every day, so parting with approximately $19 for a replacement wouldn’t hurt either.

You may also like to check out:

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I currently have my laptop hooked up to an LG 22LS4D TV screen which I use for programming. The problem is, whenever the HDMI cable is moved slightly (such as when the curtains behind are opened/closed or when the lead is accidentally pulled), the cable disconnects from the TV so I do not have an input.

How would I be able to make sure my HDMI cable disconnect less often?.

Also while we are on the same topic, it is also hard to reconnect since I have to reach behind the TV and the cable/port is loose so it takes multiple attempts to connect. How would I be able to connect the cable easier?

How to keep cables from breaking

5 Answers 5

This is an adaptation of my own answer on Ask Different, for a similar circumstance.

One way to alleviate the pulling action is to try to get the cable pointing in a better natural direction between your two end points.

You can turn any cable into an approximation of an L or even a U by the simple expedient of tying a knot in it.

This is my standard way of dealing with any awkward cable.
It’s not perfect, but boy, it’s cheap 😉

L-knot

How to keep cables from breaking

U-knot

How to keep cables from breaking

The U-knot is achieved by simply wrapping one end through a second time, if it’s not clear from the picture.

BTW – keep the knot very loose, so you don’t damage anything.

Of course, no knot is going to help if the cable gets yanked, in any direction; this idea is really just to set the cable off in the right direction, it will not work miracles.
Just reducing its tendency to want to be straighter in the ‘wrong’ direction, nothing more, & reducing pull angularly, thereby reducing the lever length of the cable in that one direction.

\n All the cables I’ve ever had have broken on me, specifically at the ends. I ended up duct taping the last one I bought the day I got it, but that didn’t work either – it died today.

So I don’t really know what to do, I don’t want to keep buying the same cables only to have them break after a few months.

Does anyone know of any heavy-duty cables? Or maybe coiled cables are the way to go?

I don’t want anything too expensive, I’m just a bedroom player. I just want a cable that’ll last me a bit longer than regular cables.

What’s your budget?

\n \n\n \n C O L O U R S

This kind

\n \n\n \n Gibson 58 VOS, Gibson Rich Robinson ES-335, Fender Strat, Fender RoadWorn 50’s Tele, Gibson LP Jr Special

Marshall JTM45, Fender BJR NOS \n \n \n

\n \n\n \n C O L O U R S

\n I hadn’t thought of the lifetime warranty thing, the problem is I’d like to have a cable that will last for ages, not one that I can send back when it breaks – I’d be left cable-less for days.

I’ve had more expensive cables in the past and noticed no difference in quality, and little difference in tone due to my cheap equipment.

\n \n\n \n C O L O U R S

\n Good point WtrPlyr, thanks

Completely sure, when they start to break I can get a few more days out of them by twiddling the jack parts a bit.

I try to take good care of my cables, I rarely fold/roll them, never twist them and never put anything on them.

\n Monster cables are pretty tough, I try not to step on mine but they take quite the beating one way or another thus lasting longer.

The best part of monster cables for me is, that the second one breaks or I suspect it’s about to break, I walk into my guitar shop and grab one off the wall In out within 5 minutes with a new cable for free. You don’t have to wait for days on end unless they are waiting for shipments from monster to come in and are out of stock, the most the guys at my shop ask me is how it broke (which is more for quality control then anything else).

In the words of the guy who convinced me to go with monster \”You can walk your dog with these things and let him chew it to hell, walk in and get a new cable guaranteed anywhere in the world.

FYI higher quality cables won’t directly effect your tone, but you should hear less interference(noise/crosstalk) due to more shielding. The main reason to get them is life time warranty’s and that they hold together in some pretty nasty situations.

\n \n\n \n Money beats soul every time.

Money beats soul. every time.

Money. beats soul. every. goddamn. time. \n \n \n

\n i used to break em a lot, buy a soldering iron and fix em . cheaper in the long run. OR get a planet waves. mine is bent all the time and has never broken down on me in 4 years!

but i frequently re solder my lesser cables!

\n Okay I’ll have a look at Monster cables.

I’ve got a soldering iron, not sure if that would necessarily fix the cable.

Dear Lifehacker,
I take my laptop around a lot, and the power cord often gets bent in every possible place. Over time the bends stick in this position, some ends fray, and I end up having to replace it. How can I take care of it so I’m not buying another one in six months?

From,
Crazy Cables

We’ve heard this problem many times, and while we’ve talked a lot about how to wrap your headphone cables , but it’s even more important that you wrap power cables properly. Every cable is different, and some are more susceptible to damage than others (I’m talking to you, Apple power brick), but in general, the key is to wrap your cable loosely.

The Definitive Guide to Wrapping Your Headphones Without Losing Your Mind

Wrapping up your earbuds always ends up being an ordeal: they come undone in your bag, they get…

The traditional method of wrapping the cable tightly around the power brick bends the wires inside, over and over again until they break. Even if the plastic casing doesn’t break, the wires can. As Instructables user bmlbytes explains, it’s like when you bend a paper clip back and forth in the same spot over and over—soon, it’ll break from the repeated stress.

Here’s what I do: instead of wrapping your cable tightly around the power brick, hold your power brick in your hand—making sure the cable coming out of it is straight—and just coil your cord loosely, as shown in the video above (you could probably even coil it a bit tighter than that, but we were being conservative for the sake of time). If you really want to go bonkers, you can use the over-under method we used for wrapping headphones, but it’s a bit more work and is probably not necessary. You can then thread the end around the loop, clip it on, or wrap some velcro around it to keep it in place. We’ve used a MacBook power cable in our example, but this will work with any laptop power cable you have.

Use an Over-Under Wrap to Keep Your Headphones Kink-Free

Headphones have a magic way of tangling themselves in inexplicably complicated knots. Many…

This isn’t the only way to do it, of course. Some people recommend wrapping it in a loose figure eight and then wrapping the excess around the middle, but we like to be on the safe side and keep the entire thing kink-free. Experiment and see what works for you. As for the rest? Be gentle with it, don’t yank it out of the wall from afar, step on it, or bend it too tightly in one direction and you should be okay (and keep it away from curious pets). You could also use a little sugru to strengthen the weak points , if you’re prone to accidents.

Use Sugru to Fix an Exposed Laptop Power Cord

Sugru is a strong, sticky, flexible, adaptable substance that’s perfect for improving and patching…