Do You Manage Your Own Server Room? 3 Tips For Preventing Downtime By Keeping It Cool

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Do you own a small business? Does your business have a dedicated server room, and do you manage that server room yourself despite having a limited amount of tech-related knowledge? If so, here are three tips to prevent downtime by keeping your server room cool.

1. Don't Rely On Central Air Conditioning

It is recommended that you keep the temperature of your server room between 64 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit. No problem, right? Your central air is set to keep your entire establishment at a comfortable 70 degrees -- a temperature well within the acceptable range for servers. Wrong. Servers produce a lot of heat as they work. Air that enters a server rack at 80 degrees can exit the rack at temperatures over 100 degrees. An air conditioning system designed to cool your entire facility won't be able to keep up with these fluctuations. With central AC, your entire establishment may feel cool and comfortable, but there could be hot spots surrounding your equipment that exceed the optimal operating temperatures of your servers.

It's fine to have central AC at your business, but you should also have dedicated cooling systems specifically designed to eliminate hot spots in and around your server racks.

2. Make Sure Your Dedicated Cooling Reaches Your Equipment

Of course, just because you have a dedicated cooling system aimed right at your server racks doesn't mean that that cooling unit will keep your equipment cool. In fact, research shows that 60 percent of cool air meant to cool server rooms never actually makes it to the equipment. Why? Because most server rooms aren't set up correctly. If your server room has a raised floor, the perforated tiles should be strategically placed to allow for warm air to escape without sacrificing any of the cool air provided by your dedicated air conditioning unit. 

Server rooms without raised floors should utilize every possible tactic to keep cool air from escaping the equipment area. This includes capping or blocking off the space surrounding cables in cable cutout areas, keeping doors and windows closed at all times, and patching up any cracks and crevices in the room through which cool air could escape. Furthermore, any empty server racks should be blocked off with server rack panels so cool air is not wasted on empty space.

3. Stay On Top Of AC Preventative Maintenance

As mentioned above, the area surrounding your server equipment can be far hotter than the air in the rest of your facility. This means that even during cold winter months, if your dedicated air conditioning unit quits working, your servers could overheat. And if one of your servers overheats due to a hot spot or extreme temperatures within your facility, not only will you lose data and experience downtime, but also you may void any warranty you happen to have on that server. Waiting for one of your servers to go down and then having it repaired is not an option; by then, you've already lost too much.

Your air conditioners' filters should be changed regularly, and the units should also have electrical tests and have their refrigerant levels checked annually. A drop in refrigerant levels or power could mean that an AC unit is due for a breakdown, and noticing the problem before that breakdown actually happens will spare your equipment.

If you have no experience in air conditioner repair and can't perform the maintenance yourself, it's absolutely worth the investment to outsource the work. Try to find an AC maintenance company that has experience with cooling server rooms and, if it's within your budget, sign up for electronic monitoring. With electronic monitoring, the AC repair facility will continuously monitor the performance of your air conditioning unit through software, and arrive at the scene immediately if their diagnostics detect a problem with your AC system. 

The temperature of server room equipment is one of the most important factors in preventing server downtime. If you maintain your business's server room, have a cooling unit specifically dedicated to keeping your equipment cool, make sure the air coming from that cooling unit can reach your equipment, and have the cooling unit serviced regularly by a trained professional.