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Keeping your servers cool during a heatwave

It’s that time of year when, for a mere week or two, Britons finally get to complain about the weather being too hot, rather than too cold, or too wet. Unfortunately for many SMB’s, it’s also that time when it’s all hands-on deck trying to keep your onsite servers at optimum temperature. Boilers don’t tend to pack up in the summer and air conditioning units don’t die a death in the winter, but when you need to keep your hardware cool so you can continue running your business in the middle of a heatwave…

Servers are becoming more resilient these days and can probably safely handle temperatures in the early 30’s, but we still recommend your server room to stay at a comfortable 15 – 20 degrees, giving you leeway on either side. Here are some basic tips to help keep your systems up and running, when the last thing you can imagine doing is getting up, and running:


Buy a decent air conditioning unit. Cut costs in other areas, this one is important. Don’t forget to service them once in a while too.


Keep your server room locked and well-sealed. Choose a room without windows and enough space for air to flow. Most importantly here, choose a room. A windowsill is not the ideal location for your network equipment. If you don’t have a room, choose a conditioned cabinet or at least one with an appropriate fan system for the amount of hardware inside.


Keep the air flowing. Allow a good amount of space between items in a server rack for air to flow through and place the cabinet in a location that maximises air flow, avoiding placing them directly up against a wall.


Do a little housekeeping. No, literally. Most servers have cooling fans built into them. Make sure they are clean and free of dust.


Detect any issues early. That may sound impossible, but many servers can generate auto-alerts when they reach a certain temperature. You can also purchase a simple temperature alarm without breaking the bank. The sooner you can start implementing you backup plan the better - which leads us nicely into the final tip.


Prepare for the worst. Have a backup plan in place to turn to if your air conditioning fails. Standard fans aren’t a great backup but could just about do enough the give you some time if needed. Consider whether any devices could be powered down temporarily to reduce the heat generation. Reduced service is better than no service. Include actual backups into your backup plan. What would happen if the server failed and you couldn’t access the data on it?


Hopefully these rather obvious little bits of advice will keep you up and running over the coming days. Of course, many of our customers have taken the leap to full cloud infrastructure, completely eliminating the need to run about cooling tin on a sunny day. They’ll be working in the back yard with their feet in a paddling pool. If that sounds like a better option for you, give us a call to discuss your needs. Otherwise, stay cool out there.

Jason Abrahamse

Jason is ITbuilder's security expert and leads our information security project team. He provides consultancy and support on matters relating to cyber-resilience and data protection.

Something of an industry veteran, Jason has held various roles in the industry and combines that expertise to consult with customers on security best practices.

Jason is a native of South Africa, but is now a fully naturalised Brit except for not being accustomed to the cold. He lives locally in Hertfordshire.

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