Tips for keeping your data centre cool

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Image via Flickr creative commons from IntelFreePress

During the summer months, just as clients and employees will get hot under the collar – so will your data centre. Keeping it cool will require a range of data centre solutions – but for any business, maintaining a low temperature can be expensive.

The first step, unfortunately, can often be the most expensive. Optimising your computer room air conditioning units can increase efficiency. At the same time, you should begin an investigation into the integrity of the facility. Look where you are storing it – leaky windows and doors can compromise efficiency. The same applies for ventilation or ceiling tiles that have been removed without being replaced.

If you are in an area where there is a problem with humidity, make sure you have a vapour barrier. Many devices will have been built with one installed so it is important to make sure this is working properly.

Keeping temperatures down can be as simple as maintaining your units regularly. Just like a car, air conditioning units can become unreliable if neglected. Depending on where it is and depending on the season, filters can become clogged with dust over time. If these are not regularly cleared they can become one of the main causes of overheating. The very minimum maintenance schedule should be around twice a year, anything less than that will give you serious problems.

As well as the external factors that increase the temperature of your data centre, the amount of work it is doing can be pivotal in its survival and efficiency. All of the energy it produces will be converted to heat – other than noise, it is the data centre’s only waste product. For almost every bit of energy it spends on processing, you will need to spend on cooling.

If the floor of the room you store your data centre is raised, make sure the grates and similar perforated tiles are as near as possible to the hottest racks. But make sure these are not too close to your air conditioning. If you need to, don’t be afraid to rearrange your units, it will help with air circulation.

Measure the temperature of your racks, where the air is drawn in. If the bottom area of these is coolest, try to rearrange your servers to the coolest areas of the room. At the same time, make sure you use blanking panels to block off the unused, clear room in front of the towers. This process with help with the whole room’s air circulation.

The room shouldn’t be in use by people too often, a human body can add around 100 watts of energy to a room. When it is not in use, make sure the lights are turned off at all times, this can save up to two per cent of electrical heat.

If things get too hot, make sure you have a backup plan to shut down all the non-essential parts of the data centre. This contingency plan will save important data and systems when things get too hot.

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