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In most businesses, server hardware maintenance gets attention only when something goes wrong. The most common types of hardware failures are hard drives, power supplies, fans and RAID controllers. To prevent, or at least minimize, the risk of these failures there are a number of things you can do. And, if there is a failure, these steps will give you the best chance at a quick recovery.

Use the Right Equipment for the Job

First, get computer hardware that is built to do what you are asking of it. Sure, it is technically possible to use a desktop computer as a standard server, but it will not hold up to the demands placed on typical servers. Real servers and the components are built to run 24/7 and are generally better engineered to minimize failure.

At the mid- to high-end, servers from companies such as HP and Dell may even include features such as dual power supplies, hot-swap capable hard drives and fault-tolerant RAM that will continue to function even if one RAM module fails. In addition, the inclusion of a computer hardware RAID controller is standard in these types of machines, which allows you to have one drive fail without affecting the functionality of the server.

Just as important as using the right hardware, you need to protect the hardware. One of the simplest ways to protect your computer hardware is to plug them into a quality UPS (uninterruptible power supply). Not only will a quality UPS protect the server from power fluctuations, it will keep the server running during a short-term power outage. In addition, the UPS will communicate with the server to notify the server it is running out of power during a prolonged power outage so the server can automatically shut itself down.

Last, but not least, provide cool air in the server area and keep the system well ventilated. Regularly check to ensure ventilation holes are not covered by dirt and dust or even boxes and supplies. Lack of proper ventilation is a sure way to overheat and shorten the life of a server.

Even the Right Equipment Can Fail

Even with proper maintenance, servers can fail. If this happens you have three options: pay for overnight shipping of the failed part; hope the manufacturer lives up to the warranty agreement; or keep spare parts in stock. If all your servers and components have identical part numbers, it is cost-effective to keep spare parts such as power supply, fan, hard drive, etc.

If your servers do not share the same part number or have different components, it is easy to maintain a quick-response warranty from the manufacturer. These can provide repairs within four hours. However, this high level of service does come with a relatively high price. If your business depends on your server, it is a cheap insurance policy. Last, but not least, you can purchase server components in the event of an emergency and have them shipped overnight. This is a good option if your server is not mission critical to your business.

There really isn’t a wrong way to keep things running as long as you understand the pros and cons of each option.

KLH – Minneapolis IT Managed Services Provider

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Scott Johnson COO, KLH  651-328-6121