Thunderbolt cables should have a lock connector like CAT5 cables

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Anim, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. Anim macrumors 6502a

    Anim

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Location:
    Macclesfield, UK
    #1
    As we see more and more external storage solutions using Thunderbolt, how easy is it to just pull the connector out? Isn't that a bit of a risk? It would have been better if they added a click-lock connector like CAT5 cables.

    I try to be careful with my cabling but have pulled out a USB connector twice in the past when the cable dropped down the back of the desk and then got snagged on my foot. It was only the mouse but if that was a thunderbolt cable attached to a storage device, that could wreck havoc on a file system.

    I guess I am going to have to hammer some U nails in around the office to minimise the chance of that happening.
     
  2. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    #2
    Yeah I agree, it's far too easy to disconnect these cables. I'm a little bit surprised that Apple approved this design and didn't catch that. Additionally, for some reason there is a more positive locking on my MacBook Pro's and I'm noticing loose coupling on my new Mac Pro. It might partially have to do with the fact that the thunderbolt connectors are higher up off the desk, but also appears be more than that, perhaps the curved surface.

    Oh well, it's not a major issue at least because it is a desktop computer.
     
  3. carlosm86 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2014
    #3
    very true, Ive had this happen to me. I have two dogs and my macpro is forced to sit with the cables facing out with my set up (well not forced I just like having my chair facing the door) either way they tend to run around and have pulled out the minidvi cables (which are the sockets for TB) quite a bit of times. It never occured to me that they should have a lock especially considering what TB2 is supposed to do. Last thing I would want is to transfer some data over and have my dumb little dogs trip the wire and cause massive data corruption.

    I guess we can petition apple to do so.


    in the HDSLR market they have HDMI Locks and Im sure other industries, I dont see why it would be any different than to design a lock for that too. Sure it be unsightly but Functionality over Form on this issue.
     
  4. echoout macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 15, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #4
    Prepare yourself to be ridiculed, OP.

    I think it's a huge risk. I've been burned by it several times.
     
  5. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #5
    Too late to change the design of the port itself. But no reason that new locking plate couldn't be expanded to include cable grips.
     
  6. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #6
    It's got nothing to do with apple!

    Yes apple could design a catch of sorts but it would be unique to apple and in turn require an apple specific cable.
     
  7. analog guy macrumors 6502

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    Mar 6, 2009
    #7
    sonnet designed a lock that is part of the case 9see echo express iii-d enclosure). i didn't think much about this when i made the purchase but am quite grateful for it now.
     
  8. JavaTheHut macrumors 6502

    JavaTheHut

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    Aug 15, 2010
    #8
  9. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

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    Mar 10, 2009
    #9
    The MagSafe design is exactly for this kind of situation. It detaches even more easily. The more secure the connection the more likely foot drags devices off of table/supporting furniture and onto the floor. In short, there are multiple consequences here.

    Thunderbolt cables aren't designed to be draped across a floor. It is a desktop/laptop connectivity context. If cables are on the desk, not all that likely going to catch them with your foot or most other body parts.

    ----------

    Cats and dogs on desktop are in similar class as human feet in vicinity. Again smaller, ligher device more likely a secure connection is allow the dog/cat/foot to drag the Mac Pro onto the floor as much as keep the cable in.
     
  10. Anim, Feb 6, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014

    Anim thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Anim

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Location:
    Macclesfield, UK
    #10
    Good point, I hadn't considered that.

    The Magsafe connector is only for battery backed laptops wasn't it? which don't bat an eye lid if the power cable pops out. I loved that feature to be honest, it saved my MBP a few times with my dog and various clumsy feet.

    But I think this maybe a new problem due to the speeds you get on that tiny TB cable, users will be running apps and even full operating systems on external storage especially as you can get more than double the speed of the internal PCI-e SSD, some might even offload everything to an external including the system boot OS which makes the TB cable as critical as the Power cable.

    But what is more likely to happen? Yanking a nMP off a desk which would have to be yanked to the side as most desks are against a surface vs the cable popping out with little resistance? Granted both are dire cases.

    So, two problems here:

    1. Allowing the cable to pop out with little resistance but risk corrupting data
    2. Locking the cable in place but risk pulling the entire machine over and possibly onto the floor.

    The obvious free solution is to have the nMP and External storage in a closed off secure area and close to each other so that no cable could be tripped, yanked etc. That or proper cable management. But we have 6 of these cables so it can get messy.

    If that isn't possible (maybe your external drives are in secure locked rooms many meters away) then another solution is to make the TB connections more tightly fitting, like the nMP power connector plate, but that would require some kind of bracket around the entire Mac Pro.

    A third option (and this is just a theory) is to implement a Thunderbolt version of TCP as it has error checking and delivery status. So if the cable pops out then any data transfer is simply paused until the cable is reattached.
     
  11. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #11
    Actually, I think the only proper choices are:

    (a) Proper cable management
    (b) Proper cable management
    or
    (c) Proper cable management

    If you're using a desktop, even a laptop used with desktop peripherals, then there is no excuse for leaving cables in vulnerable places or for trying to re-arrange your desktop without shutting everything down safely.

    At least, that's what I tell myself whenever I screw something up by leaving cables in vulnerable places or trying to re-arrange my desktop without shutting everything down safely.

    Magsafe is a bit of an exception: As you point out, the consequences of yanking the power on a laptop are minimal and I'm sure we've all been in meeting rooms festooned with laptop power cables because, despite laptops having been ubiquitous since last century, nobody has told the people who design meeting rooms. They're not, generally, festooned with Thunderbolt or USB cables and I haven't had to take an ethernet hub and an armfull of cables for a while: thanks to WiFi and the short-range ballistic USB stick.
     
  12. haravikk macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    #12
    I'm not going to say that Thunderbolt can't be improved, but this really is the solution to 99% of cable related troubles. All it takes a few twisty-ties and you can quickly turn a spaghetti mess into neatly routed cables; it's a tiny bit of extra effort, but well worth it in the long run. I've also taken to labelling power connectors and data cables where they enter my power outlets or computer, as it's amazing how easy it is to forget what seems like a logical ordering for devices at the time, and the last thing you want is to unplug a hard drive by mistake.
    With USB I go a step further as I now have so many different styles and colours of cables from different devices that I can now pick unique colours for each device (usually something matching the device itself), I can also usually pick and choose the length as well, but when I can't, just twisty-tie the excess together into a neat bundle you can keep out of the way.
    I've also tried some cable management products, but to be honest the only ones I've found to be any good are the kind of hard-plastic, guttering you can run along a floor or wall, anything that just wraps the cables doesn't really solve the problem IMO, and just serves as a dust trap anyway.


    Regarding the connectors themselves; CAT5 isn't really intended to be plugged in and out all the time, so the latches aren't really all that great, not sure if I'd want that on cabling specifically intended to be plug and play as I've had loads of those latches snap off over the years.

    However, some kind of firm magnetic contact would be nice. The Microsoft Surface tablets have all kinds of bad features, but one thing that actually works really well is the connector that attaches the keyboard; if someone could make Thunderbolt connectors that clip into place as firmly, but usably, as that, then it would be perfect.
     
  13. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #13
    As pointed out, locking down the cables as opposed to locking in the endpoints drops the likelihood way down of there being disconnection problems. Not to zero but reasonably small. Even with a latch, human error can grab the wrong cable and detach it. The latch doesn't drop it to zero either.

    The whole "sit and spin" feature of the Mac Pro I think will turn out to be a not so good idea and more of a gimmick. Presumes folks are going to allow for the slack needed for the Mac Pro to move around and not put tension on the cable. Even without the spin there should be some 'play' in the cable lock down so that can move enough to get to ports as needed.

    If there are common plug-in/unplug devices wondering through those more likely can be coupled to a dock than to mess around near the more static connections.


    TCP won't particularly work if pull an Ethernet cable for a while. Likely to get a closed socket when OS and drivers can't find anything on the port for a while. TCP isn't meant for disconnected operation. A re-route through some other alternative route but no keep buffering until something comes back commitment. Likewise the connection on the other side may quit if go dark too long.
     
  14. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #14
    As pointed out, locking down the cables as opposed to locking in the endpoints drops the likelihood way down of there being disconnection problems. Not to zero but reasonably small. Even with a latch, human error can grab the wrong cable and detach it. The latch doesn't drop it to zero either.

    The whole "sit and spin" feature of the Mac Pro I think will turn out to be a not so good idea and more of a gimmick. Presumes folks are going to allow for the slack needed for the Mac Pro to move around and not put tension on the cable. Even without the spin there should be some 'play' in the cable lock down so that can move enough to get to ports as needed.

    If there are common plug-in/unplug devices wondering through those more likely can be coupled to a dock than to mess around near the more static connections.


    TCP won't particularly work if pull an Ethernet cable for a while. Likely to get a closed socket when OS and drivers can't find anything on the port for a while. TCP isn't meant for disconnected operation. A re-route through some other alternative route but no keep buffering until something comes back commitment. Likewise the connection on the other side may quit if go dark too long.
     
  15. haravikk macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    #15
    I don't think anyone seriously uses it that way; plugging in even the power cable alone makes it awkward to do this in any kind of useful way, especially when it's a fairly heavy duty cable. Add some extra devices onto this, which may not necessarily be in the same direction as the power cable, and it really is a non-starter. If Apple had put the power connector in the base so that it remains fixed, and provided some kind of built-in cable management, then it could work, but otherwise… not really. I mean, one of the things I love about the iMac is the hole in the stand, as routing most of your cables through there will tidy them up significantly, but the Mac Pro lacks anything similar; some devices have a soft plastic "handle" type piece that you can route cables through, my HDTV has that which is handy like the iMac's stand, though not quite big enough for all the inputs I'm using.

    It's something that Apple put surprisingly little thought into; even better with the new Mac Pro would have been if the base and the case had separate I/O, so you could have some fixed position ports alongside the power cable on the base, then orient the case in any direction you like to present the rest of the ports. This way you could have say, your power cable and main external drives plugged into the base at the "back", with the ports oriented towards the "front" for connecting to screens and other peripherals. That would have been a useful feature.
     

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