Server cleaning.

Dust in the powersupply of the fileserver…or should I say “Fire prevention”. Nowadays, more and more fires come from computers left running overnight. Sure it seems harmless, and you have probably gotten away with it for the past 10 years without anything happening. Still, chances are that it will happen someday.

Fire is a simple thing. All you need is fuel, oxygen and heat. In a computer, there is some heat (which is hopefully kept down by the fans), and a lot of oxygen (also kindly fed by the fans). So now, all we need is a fuell. The steel casing isn’t going to light up very soon, and generally the materials of the chips and bits aren’t that flamable either. The wire insulation is most likely to catch fire. Or is it?

Suppose your computer is an “allways on” fileserver, like mine. Only the disks spin down when it is not used for a long time, but everything else remains powered on. The fans of the system start to collect dust over the years, and are beginning to make more and more noise, and less and less revolutions. Before you know it, the dust is everywhere in your system, and the airflow is deminished to the sigh of a hamster, and the heat starts to build up. Dust is an excelent fuel, so all you have to do is get your marshmellows and wait for the fire to ignite

Personally, I don’t like roasted marshmellows, or my house burning down. So I informed the users of the server, shut it down, and cleaned it, power supply and all. Not only is the computer (somewhat) less of a fire-hazard, the advantage is also that it has become slightly less noisy.
So be honest with me, which of you readers work for a company which actually has a policy for shutting down and cleaning servers in the server room? Or a dust-free server room? I don’t think there are that much, but it would be something to think about with all these heat-generating machines in a single well-ventilated room…

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