At most data centers, servers get the least amount of attention—not because they aren’t important, of course—but because they are the most “stable” elements compared to other IT priorities. Taking the time to address potential pitfalls that can occur with servers can avoid future problems.
Ditch the Dust
One of the biggest issues for electronic equipment is that it attracts dust and other particles. Because of the airflow patterns in data centers, it doesn’t take long to cause equipment issues. Take these precautions:
- Use air filters and sealed doors on server racks and cabinets to help eliminate dust getting into servers and peripherals.
- Limit who has access to the server area to avoid opportunities for touching equipment.
- When opening cardboard boxes or other materials, avoid doing so near the server cabinets since particles can become airborne quickly.
- If there is construction near the servers, clean up residual sheet rock or other materials that can corrode equipment components.
Let Equipment Breathe
One of the most common problems with server equipment is that the electronics inside can cause it to run hot. If the air doesn’t have the opportunity to expel, computers and peripherals can overheat, fail, or become a fire hazard if not ventilated properly. Here are some tips for upkeep:
- Use perforated metal doors and side panels and fans for better air flow into and through the cabinet.
- Vented shelves to allow fixed air space between pieces of equipment; it is discouraged to stack components on top of each other as it can cause overheating.
Check Aging Equipment
Electronic equipment and its software have a limited life even when it seems to be in good working order. For instance, CPUs, adapters, and other hardware can be used for years, but the applications and software that run on computing equipment can degrade the overall performance over time.
- Evaluate all components to ensure good wear-leveling and endurance; factor these into your software purchasing and maintenance cycles.
- Work closely with equipment vendor(s) to ensure you understand lifespan, managing and protecting the equipment, and warranty details.
- Compare your current equipment with the latest version(s) to determine if it’s more cost-effective to retire it and purchase new models.
Do a “Once-Over” on Equipment
Periodically, it’s recommended to do a hands-on evaluation of the physical appearance of servers and peripherals to make sure they’re in good working order:
- Check hardware for error indicators or lights and any hardware termination or interoperability issues.
- Test the functionality of all peripheral equipment to make sure it’s operating properly.
- Check all plugs and cabling; look for wear and tear and any incorrect cabling; investigate disconnected cables and adjust or remove them.
Taking these steps can help extend working life of your server equipment, reduce the chance of service calls, and allow the IT team to focus on other priorities (and save those urgent requests for other departments).