Hoarding is a bit of an IT disease, mainly because when you go round someone's house (after months of them begging and also realising that you probably do owe them a favour), they will need to have a Windows reinstall from an XP disk with some obscure driver which has to be put on using a floppy drive, and then their printer install will have freaked out because you're not using a parallel cable but are trying to be clever pushing it through some networked-printer-server thing that you also found (but which could've saved you a lot of time), and then being asked if you've got a mouse because they can't find PS/2 ones any more.
The fact is, my hoard, by percentage is mostly worthless and will be unused. But in there is that one obscure cable, weird card you never thought you'd use, adapter for something that doesn't exist any more, etc. and sometimes - just once maybe - it will absolutely save your life that you've got it still.
That said, in terms of boxes, manuals, etc. I ditch after a year. If I haven't sent it back after a year, it's probably okay, and there's no law that says it has to be in the original packaging even if I do (really, honestly, truly!). Cables, I limit myself to a maximum of five of anything that's immortal (e.g. power leads and 19v adaptors), two of everything else and one of most things. You only need so many 36-pin floppy IDE cables, or ZIP drive power supplies.
If you really want a hoard, I guarantee you that I still own:
- 2 Video Backers (backup data to VHS tape from an ISA card! - no idea what I'll ever use them for, but there you go)
- APC UPS serial cables (which you HAVE to label because they have a different pin configuration to everything else)
- "Real" fax modems (surprisingly useful if not winmodems for setting up automated fax to email systems with Hylafax)
- Fans and fan-adaptor cables (unbelievable how many people just let their fans clog to the point of dying and then buy a £20 Maplin fan that's worth about 50p).
- A Syquest Sparq drive (parallel port version - like a ZIP but 1Gb disks, and a HUGE data store for anything that only does DOS / Parallel without having to worry about drivers and moving old IDE disks around).
- IDE -> SATA and SATA -> IDE convertors (usually tiny ones that cost next-to-nothing)
- Drive rails (e.g. 3.5" -> 5.25" bay rails - invaluable even on modern machines when you use a lot of disks).
- 25m serial cable made up of every combination of 25-pin, 9-pin, male, female, etc.. Seriously. Used to play IPX- and TCP- games over this using an old DOS packet driver pre-home-networks.
- PCI analog TV cards (excellent for CCTV systems running on old machines and as spares for such now that digital is king).
- Every possible combination of USB A, B, mini, micro, male, female, etc. that you can imagine in one huge long daisy-chain of adaptors that takes up nearly a meter of solid plastic (I call it the USB lightsaber).
- Power adaptors for weird things - old Dell laptops mainly and anything that has a weird voltage / connector like some of the old ISDN modems, routers, etc.
- PS/2 extensions and USB adaptors. Vital for fixing old machines and/or keeping your old keyboard.
Plus so much other junk I couldn't name it all.
But I tell you what, when someone says "I know it's a long shot, but I don't suppose you have..." I just *KNOW* that if I haven't got what they need, I can cobble it together from the "bits box" quite easily. Some of the improvised cables/adaptors that have come out of that box were like something from Apollo 13's fix for the air-scrubbers, but they worked and against all odds we got things back and working even if they WERE immediately scheduled for removal because of the difficulty of maintaining them after that.