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How to dust/vaccum servers

Posted on 2010-11-26
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Hi,
my servers,switches,firewalls,ups etc are 3 years old.i am planning to clean it or vaccum it,can i use a blower or vaccum cleaner or should i clean it manually.

while cleaning which parts i should clean ?
which parts i should not touch?
is there any static current issue while using blower?
how much air pressure it will handle while cleaning.

guys waiting for your evergreen suggestions.

regards
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Question by:arhc
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8 Comments
 
LVL 1

Accepted Solution

by:
trevorpeacock earned 400 total points
ID: 34220853
I've never found a good answer to this myself, I'm inclined to think a vacuum wont do much (dust can be pretty stubborn, you'd have to get pretty close with a vacuum).  I use compressed air, and occasionally a paintbrush for heat-sinks/vents etc.
Which parts? filters, vents, heat-sinks, anywhere where dust would reduce airflow in the designed air path. Dust isn't so much a problem, lack of airflow is.
What not to touch? any electronics. Metal casing is fine (actually a good idea to touch it to ground yourself, if your not using earth mats/straps etc, bringing your body to the same potential as the equipment), so is plastic, fans, heat-sinks.
Static electricity.. never got a good answer on this. I've never had a problem though. I do believe it is possible to build up static charges, but as I understand it that shouldn't be a problem, as long as you don't touch anything, thereby giving it a path to discharge.
Air pressure? can probably handle more than you'd be likely to apply. Giving something a good push with your finger would be much more force than a can of air at 10cm. I do like to avoid allowing fans to spin when there's a lot of dust in the air. I don't know if its likely, but getting dust into the bearings will significantly reduce their life.

My answer is based on my understanding and common sense. If anyone has any references I'd love to see them.
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LVL 5

Assisted Solution

by:Matt Davies
Matt Davies earned 400 total points
ID: 34222174
Not much around in guide terms but best general guide I can find:

http://www.computerhope.com/cleaning.htm
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LVL 12

Assisted Solution

by:jjmartineziii
jjmartineziii earned 400 total points
ID: 34222795
I usually go at it with a shop vac with the air blowing out.

I take the server outside and blow all the dust out. I've never had any problems.

I use the suction where its easy, otherwise, I just blow it all out.

Ive done this on all cisco equipment and HP servers.
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LVL 3

Assisted Solution

by:msincorp
msincorp earned 400 total points
ID: 34223167
I use a small air compressor ($80 @ home depot) and set it to 80 psi.  I also use the air hose chuck which allows me to direct the flow.

The easiest way to clean it is to follow the airflow through the server (pc) with the cover off.  Once you do your first pass, the "dirty" pass, change directions and go against the airflow, then finally back again.

Pay close attention to fans, heat sinks, and the cpu.  This is generally where the most dust builds up.

A word of caution, pay close attention to the electronics for signs of moisture from the compressor.  If you let it sit before using it, I would suggest letting it build up pressure, blow all the air (and moisture) out away from the server, then refill the compressor and start the cleaning process.

Do it all the time, and never a problem.  And yes, a paint brush can be handy.

Hope this helps.

msincorp
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LVL 47

Assisted Solution

by:David
David earned 400 total points
ID: 34224151
I've always just used a small shop vac.  I do not blow, I have it suck.

Granted most people blow. But that sucks, because you risk condensation.  (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun) Those cans of compressed air can be problematic.  Sucking also removes need to take the equipment outside, and just keeps the air clean. If you blow it, then all that dust that goes in the air is going to end up inside all of the other equipment anyway.  So blowing sucks.

I have never gone to the extra effort and get too close to the electronics, or get really anal about removing every last bit. Servers can handle dust, just not a huge amount of it, and the fans are what you really have to only worry about.

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Author Closing Comment

by:arhc
ID: 34225059
You all guys good help
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:trevorpeacock
ID: 34225080
@dlethe: What sort of vac do you use? I've never found anything that works. I'm wondering if it depends on the type of dust, around here we get a lot of dust from sand/soil from farms, there is a lot of clay around, dust from clay soils is very sticky, I don't think any amount of suction would move it. Anything that has been around cigarette smoke your lucky to clean with a paintbrush. Sand and household dust however may be OK. Results may vary.

And I agree, the goal is to allow good airflow, not remove dust.
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 34225557
I have a shopvac I got at home depot.  It is actually made by a company called "Shop Vac".  1 HP, wet/dry, maybe a foot tall and 8" wide. Works great!
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