written by: Jesma•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 9/10/2009
Servers require extra special TLC. There are even entire books dedicated to how to house and maintain servers. We pick out the highlights and detail the importance of security and proper maintenance for server systems.
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The Server Room
It is so incredibly important that your server perform at its maximum potential 100% of the time that a whole set of rules and standards has been designed to govern how a server is stored. We're not just talking about the old 'keep it off the carpet' or 'dust regularly' "rules" that we apply to PCs, either. To give you an idea, when a company that uses a complete internal network infrastructure is designing a building to move into, the network is planned and designed along with all the other utility systems. This design covers much more than where wires will be run, though. In fact, at least one entire room is designed to specific standards for the sole purpose of housing servers. In addition, each floor of the building has to have a dedicated wiring closet with a direct line to the server room.
Now, I feel it necessary to mention that it isn't laws that govern these standards. If a company doesn't meet them they're not going to get fined, and chances are no one will ever notice - until theres a disaster that impacts their servers. Professional Network Engineers know these standards and are expected to follow them when designing a network. What are some of these standards?
Server rooms should be soundproofed, and have automatically locking doors that are never to be left unlocked or propped open.
Server rooms should not have windows or viewports for security reasons.
Server rooms should have constant failsafe climate control, maintaining low temperatures.
A server room may not have a false ceiling for security reasons.
A server room must be designed for maximum fire protection. Any lines into the room must be sealed with a fireproof compound.
Sprinkler systems are not to be installed inside server rooms.
Servers should be mounted off the floor, recommended height of at least 12 inches.
The floors of the server room should be static-resistant and not waxed.
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If servers are housed in a standardized and specialized server room then maintenance should be incredibly easy. The risk of heat and dust damage is drastically reduced, but the servers should still be given a good dusting, inside and out, every couple of months. It is important to note that servers do not receive the frequent reboots that a normal PC does. In fact, a server can sustain an uptime of well over a year. Typically, the server going offline leads to downtime throughout the entire network, so it is done as little as possible.
Mostly, server maintenance simply involves checking to see that every component is running as it should. Performance should be monitored daily on things like HDD Seek Time, Memory Errors, and CPU Capacity, among others. Fans should also be checked regularly to ensure they are still functioning.
Comprehensive Guide to Server Hardware and Technology
Servers are very different from your average computer, and contain technology that is only rarely found in other systems. This guide explains the roles servers play and how their unique hardware and technologies helps them fill those roles. We also look at how to maintain and house servers.