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Keeping your IT hardware Cool

This month saw the highest temperatures on record in recorded history in the UK. As temperatures were hitting 40°C we were awaiting calls from clients advising that their PCs were shutting down. How do you keep your IT hardware cool?

Fortunately at most of our clients sites, their air-conditioned offices were able to maintain the 21-23°C that their computers like.

Most of us have been using a fan or two even at night and even contemplating the cost of Air-conditioning in our homes. This article will discuss some options.

Ideal temperatures

A majority of IT equipment has been designed to work in room temperatures circa 21°C and with the standard fans will cope if it gets warmer. The general running temperature of a modern processor is 70°C so fans are used to pass air over heatsinks do dissipate the heat quickly.

The problems occur when the fan stops as its been used for too long or is caked in dust from its environment. In recent weeks, the ambeint air temperature has been closer to the temperatures (35°C) where major problems can cause machine to shutdown as an automatic precaution.

Server equipment

A server used in an office will have multiple redundant features which include the fans. Servers are designed to be kept running for years without stopping, so ensuring they can handle higher temperatures is also part of their design. If you have ever been in the same room as a modern server when its switched on, you will know that it can sound like an aircraft engine at take off. But it soon calms down to a quieter state.

As the servers functions are being moved to the Cloud (someone elses building), they are becoming less common in the IT cabinet or rack. However the other IT equipment will suffer too. NAS drives, routers, network switches have smaller fans can easily overheat or malfunction.

The IT cabinet or rack will still need good ventilation and may even need to be in an air-conditioned room or cupboard under the stairs.

cable management

Good airflow

Maintaining airflow to equipment if its under a desk or in a cupboard or rack needs a little thought. We all know hot air rises and is blown out of the back of devices, so its key that the cabling behind equipment is kept away from the exhaust vents. Cable management can not only make your desk look tidy but will ensure it can be cooled efficiently.

cable managed desks

Cleaning

Understandably office cleaners will only clean some items in the office, such as monitor screens and keyboards. It’s not surprising that the PCs under desks are left for years without the dust being cleaned.

Some environments can be greasy and more dusty than others, meaning a regular schedule of equipment cleaning should be implemented to keep the hardware cooler.

Fans are one of the few remaining moving parts of a pc. Compressed air can be used on both laptops and desktop devices to blow out the vents. Most PCs can be opened fairly easily so if you are doing an upgrade for ram or disk, give it a clean at the same time.

Liquid cooling

Now we are not talking about submerging IT equipment under water, although Microsoft have complete data centres that can be. Liquid coolling of hardware has been used in the PC gaming industry for some time where high end graphics cards (GPU) are used for games that run complex animations in real time.

The liquid coolant is pumped around a radiator that has fans attached to then cool the liquid. This idea has been used in cars for years including eletric ones.

If you have a CAD workstations then it may benefit from an AIO (All In One) liquid coolled loop and keep the hardware cool.

Air-conditioning

If your office is getting too warm then a portable air-con unit may cost around £400 for a small unit. These can provide the anwser for a short term heat wave but you will need to be able to vent the hot exhaust hose out of a window. Just be carefull to ensure you have secured the window at night.

If air-conditioning is not suitable then ensuring air is kept moving around the equipment using fans for ventiallation is key. Open the IT cupboard door for a little more airflow. If you have windows these can be masked using cardboard to prevent the sunlight heating the room.

Turning off equipment

In most offices we support most devices are left on even when there is nobody using them. We often ask users to leave their pcs on overnight for updates but we now schedule the install during the day so that the pcs can be switched off after use.

Turning off equipment when not in use will save adding to the heat and also save a little electricity.

Should you would like to discuss how we can assist providing IT as well as some hints to keep your hardware cool in the heatwave the please contact our team.