Christopher Lentz | January 12, 2015 06:59 AM
Whether you have a massive cage in a huge data center or just a small closet to host your servers and networking equipment in, keeping it clean can be one of the most helpful tools in extended the life of your gear. Today's article outlines the why, the how, and then cost saving of keeping your servers and server area neat and tidy.
Have you ever swept the floor in a dusty garage or raked leaves in a dirt patch? If so, you likely know what it is like to suck dirt and dust into your lungs, cough like there is no tomorrow, and possibly spit out gobs of mud. If not, don't try this at home without a mask. That same thing is happening to your dirty and unorganized server room and let's be completely honest...your servers don't like it one bit! Servers are a lot like humans, they like to breathe in fresh, cool air, work smart not hard, and get things done. In order to do this, your servers need plenty of room to breathe on all sides. This lets cool air come into the front of the machine and hot air to leave out the back. Keeping your systems cool means that they run at their best performance levels. You don't like to do yard work while its 90 degrees outside and neither does your server.
First, remove anything from the room that is not related to the servers or the networking gear in your space. This especially goes for file boxes, clothing, and other items. Next ensure that your servers have at least one foot of space all the way around them. This will increase proper airflow around them and keep them running their best. Just remember that cold air falls to the floor while hot air rises because keeping a small closet or room cool enough requires proper ventilation in that room. The ventilation can come in many forms, either a room specific air conditioning unit, a exhaust fan system, or even both. Either way, you want to keep that room pretty chilly at around 55-65 degrees Farenheit depending on the humidity levels in your area. It should be warm enough not to create condensation (water vapor) yet cold enough to run your systems efficiently.
Second, clean every surface of everything with an anti-static cleaner. This will reduce the risk of short-circuiting one of your devices while simultaneously getting ride of the dust and dirt in the room. Removing the dust and dirt allows the internal parts of the servers and devices to stay clean. This is especially important for heat sinks inside their cases. A dirty heat sink can trap heat on the sink and not allow it to be cooled by the fresh cool air flowing through the case.
Keeping your servers and other networking equipment like your routers, switches, and firewalls cool and clean can save you thousands. Think of the most critical server in your office, maybe your email server, and imagine it gets fried out from overheating. How much would it cost you to replace that server? How about the cost of having someone recover all the data and programs? I bet you are already in the thousands with just a single server.
Keeping your server room clean is a fairly simple task and it can save you a bundle in the long run.