Summer is upon us. That means cranking the AC or opening the windows at night. The change in temperature could spell trouble for your computer or server. Even in climate controlled offices buildings there are unintended temperature changes depending on the cooling cycle of the building. These fluctuations create a perfect environment inside your machine which takes air and dust particles and sticks them to any surface, particularly those which are static charged (cooling fan) or have micro condensation (copper heatsink). In some cases these build ups can conduct electricity and short out components or cause total system failure. In most cases the dust just causes an insulating effect and reduces the cooling efficiency of the system and contributes to poor heat-transfer and overheating. When the buildup is bad enough to see dust bunnies, your system is probably already suffering from heat related issues.
The ready availability of canned air makes it easy to shoot some air into the intake vents of your machine and see a gratifying puff of dust come out of the other end. This isn’t always a wise thing to do. For starters, where is the dust going? Unless you are using a specialized vacuum duster, the dust which comes out of your machine settles on the floor and worse goes into the air.
Along with PBDEs, there is the pollen buildup leftover from spring and a huge increase in dust in the early summer. This dust and pollen content can create allergic responses and respiratory distress in some people. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the dust inside a computer chassis can be harmful to your health and contain substances used as fire prevention compounds used in computer components known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. In 2002 Dell prohibited the use of PBDEs in the manufacture of its computers but at the time of this writing there is no word from the other two giants of the industry, IBM and Hewlett Packer. These compounds can also come from other office and household items and owing to the large and constant airflow of a computer cooling system and the static build up and micro condensation be deposited therein.
Obviously a rack of servers cannot be moved out of doors to be dusted with canned air. It is advised that servers are cleaned once per month by a trained professional. If canned air has to be used, it is advised that at a minimum the person cleaning the machine wear a dust mask and clean the room after. (Wipe down all surfaces with a microfiber cloth, vacuum or sweep the floor.) For regular cleaning, the preferred method in is using a vacuum duster. In most cases the machines can be cleaned while powered on. If you have any questions about this or any other technology concerns, call Guardian Solutions today at 719.749.1112