Spring Cleaning for Your Server Room
by Stephanie Faris on Tuesday, May 16 12:00
As the warm weather moves in, homeowners turn their attention toward deep cleaning their homes.
For businesses, however, spring cleaning usually refers to eliminating office clutter or organizing email inboxes. I.T. administrators may even use it as an
opportunity to inventory the files and applications on their servers and eliminate data that is no longer necessary.
But files and applications aren't the only things slowing a business's network down. Over time, dust and debris in server rooms can collect on sensitive server components, negatively impacting operating speed. If too much time passes, businesses may find that it damages those components, leading to hard drive crashes. By setting time aside each spring to conduct a thorough server room cleaning, you'll be able to extend the life of your equipment and avoid costly outages.
Before you get started, take a look at your room and remove any extra clutter that has accumulated since your last cleaning. Over time, extra components and end-of-life servers can collect in corners, creating a trip-and-fall hazard. By offloading this equipment first, you'll be better able to clean.
Invest in Supplies
Sensitive components require special cleaning materials. Before you get started on your spring cleaning project, gather the following:
- Anti-static wipes
- Low-lint cloths
- Compressed air
- Vacuum with high-efficiency HEPA filter
- Dry mop
- Non-ammonia floor cleaner
As you shop for cleaning supplies, search for items that are approved for use with computer equipment. Static, lint, and cleaning chemicals can be particularly dangerous to electronics.
Choose a day when your equipment will not be in use, since you'll need to turn off any piece of equipment before cleaning it with compressed air. On cleaning day, start with the floors, using a damp mop to contain dust particles. Avoid sweeping, since this will send dust and debris into the air. Once you've cleaned floors and subfloors, you can move to the racks, focusing on the dust that might have accumulated inside servers.
Whether you choose to use a vacuum, compressed air, or a combination of both, it's important to take care when dislodging dust. Even if equipment is powered off, too much pressure can permanently damage components. Also check the HVAC unit you have installed to keep the room cool. Dust can gather on fan blades, reducing the unit's efficiency in keeping a reasonable temperature. If you use compressed air to remove dust from a piece of equipment, make sure you use a vacuum to contain the particles to avoid them merely scattering into another server.
As you're cleaning, don't neglect your peripherals. Keyboards and mice can be bacteria magnets and debris can easily collect in the spaces between keys. After shaking keyboards to remove loose particles, you can remove each key with a sharp tool and use alcohol wipes to clean. Don't forget the racks themselves, which can also collect dust.
Many organizations choose professional server room and data center cleaning services, since they already have the tools and techniques to clean these sensitive areas. Before you attempt your spring cleaning, it might be worthwhile to price a professional service to see if it's worth the time savings it will bring, especially since it will ensure your equipment stays safe.