With a record heatwave inbound this weekend, most of Chicago's residents are probably already planning how to beat the heat. But people aren't the only things affected extreme temperatures, and you should be careful not to forget your company's servers.
The ideal server temperature range is 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit, and anything over 83 degrees is considered to be high. If a server overheats, that can cause potentially irreparable damage to the equipment, costing you money and causing significant data loss.
To prevent this from happening to you, be sure to follow these five guidelines:
1) Ensure Proper Ventilation and Airflow of Server Room
The most important step in protecting your servers from overheating is, of course, proper climate control. You should have air conditioning, with dedicated intake and return vents that allow cool air to enter and warm air to escape.
A common mistake is to use the same temperature monitoring as the rest of the office; your server room should have its own independent thermostat. Furthermore, you should regularly conduct tests to ensure that this thermostat is accurately measuring the server room temperature.
2) Have all HVAC systems serviced regularly
If your airconditioning goes out or a vent stops pumping warm air out of the server room, you will quickly see a spike. Unfortunately, the risk of failure is greatest when companies need climate control most, as high energy demands can short out equipment or cause power failures.
Routine maintenance will keep your system up to date, and uncover any hidden problems. Ensuring that your systems are all working properly is crucial to keeping your temperature in line and your servers safe.
3) Keep your server room completely sealed off from the rest of your office
Your server room requires very strict control, and you should make every effort to block out the outside environment. There should be no windows, no extra doors, no missing ceiling tiles or other air gaps that would compromise the precise temperature control you are supposed to be maintaining. Even the lights should be off (when no one is in the room).
Employees should be cautioned against storing anything unnecessary in your server room. It may be tempting to use the extra space and throw some spare furniture in there, but doing so can hinder proper airflow or even block a crucial vent.
It's better to be safe, and keep the server room locked and empty.
4) Use a Hot Aisle / Cold Aisle Layout to Promote Proper Airflow
If all of server racks are in rows and face the same way, then the hot air being expelled out the back of each row is sucked up into the intake of the server behind it, and that effect is passed down to the other racks down the line.
Additionally, you should install blanking panels to cover unused rack space in the front of the rack, further improving airflow to the actual equipment and preventing the recirculation of hot air inside the rack.
5) Add a 24/7 Environmental Monitor with Alerting
Despite your best efforts, there is always the possibility that a major failure will take place - and at the worst time, of course. If you're away this weekend and the power goes out, your AC will go out with it and probably your servers not long after.
Environmental monitoring services from your IT provider give you peace of mind that your servers are safe and nothing is awry. If your AC goes out or any other problems arise, a technician will be alerted for immediate action, and you will be notified as well so you can track the situation.
We realize that some of these changes are not the kind of things you can quickly do on your way out on Friday afternoon. If you believe your server room is at risk, you may just have to check in on it once or twice this weekend. But going forward, it is imperative that you make the requisite changes to prevent this from becoming a recurring issue, and to make sure that your servers are safe.
If you are still unsure what changes you need to make, or if you would like some advice on managing your company's server room, contact Switchfast today. We'll help you determine the best strategy for your server room, and protect your data from harm.
Written by Nik Vargas