The benefits of tidiness aren’t limited to your home – they can have a significant impact on your company’s data center. Although often overlooked, keeping a clean and organized data center can save you money and other resources. Failing to stay on top of cleanliness leads to a data center that is inefficient and failure prone. Following best practices for data center hygiene protects assets and extends the lifespan of equipment. Whether you hire a third-party for upkeep or commit to completing it in-house, these five tips will help you get your data house in order.
1. Clean and clear subfloors
For safety and tidiness, clean out old and non-functional cables. The longer the cable sits, the harder it is to clean the area surrounding it. Removing cable that no longer serves you reduces dirt and improves cooling efficiency. Damp-mop the floors to prevent dust from seeping into equipment. These tasks should be done annually at a minimum.
2. Check for contaminants in equipment
Dirt is incredibly damaging to equipment. To keep it at bay, change the computer room air conditioner filters regularly. Contaminants, such as dirt and dust, accumulate on heat sinks and clog server intake filters. These issues increase fan speeds and lead to equipment overheating and deterioration. Install pads for wiping feet at data center entrances to prevent people from bringing additional dust and dirt into the room.
Adhering to these best practices won’t keep all contaminants out of your center since they still enter from outdoors through the code-required ventilation system. If ventilation air comes in via the same ducts that serve the rest of the building, it is unlikely to be filtered enough for your data center. However, positive pressure design will keep building dust from entering the center when doors are ajar.
3. Regulate humidity
According to the latest ASHRAE Thermal Guidelines, up to 70% relative humidity is when gaseous contaminants are low. With gaseous exposure, the guidelines specify 50% RH max to ensure pollutants will not form acids. Data center managers do not need to add humidity in winter unless they are running magnetic tape drives. However, in locations with high summer humidity, be sure to pre-condition incoming air to filter and dehumidify.
4. Limit activity within the data center
Sometimes businesses use data centers for storage and to unpack boxes, but this practice should be avoided to prevent particulate contamination. Maintenance work, such as sealing penetrations, should be done outside the center. If tasks must be done within, use a high-efficiency particulate air vacuum near the work and isolate the area.
5. Monitor gases
If your data center is located near an industrial area, such as a major highway or chemical plant, it is at risk of gas contamination. When certain gases combine with high humidity, sulfides and nitrates become conductive and can bridge circuit board contacts. Additionally, hydrogen and chlorine can erode solder joints and damage printed circuit boards. These issues are serious, as failures may occur in as few as three months in high-exposure locations. As advised by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, circuit boards are no longer dipped in lead-based solder but in silver. While lead is inert, silver is not.
To combat gaseous concerns, ensure that incoming air passes through special filters. Testing involves placing coupons (thin strips of silver and copper) in the data center environment for a month, followed by a lab analysis to determine the corrosion rate.
You may be surprised by the effort involved in keeping a data center clean. These best practices can save you time and money by preventing equipment failures and downtime. To learn more about the IT tasks necessary to ensure top performance, reach out to our knowledgeable and experienced team. We can advise you on keeping all of your IT assets managed and protected.