Keeping data centers clean and ensuring that they are free of dust and debris is critical to ensure that their equipment continues running safely and effectively without encountering server issues, crashes and system failures, and potential fire outbreaks. The following is a selection of some of the best practices used by professional data center cleaning services. If you own or manage a data center and are looking to hire one of these professionally trained services, please consider reaching out to the experts at Alterum Technologies today to learn about what they can do for your business.
When cleaning a data center, staff should begin with the sub-floor plenum area by carefully removing and cleaning accessible floor panels one at a time with lint-free, microfiber, or electrostatic discharge (ESD) wipes. Cleaning staff should be careful not to remove too many floor panels at once, as that can lead to several problems, including floor instability and overheating equipment.
The process should be taken slowly as cleaning staff vacuum all sub-floor areas and carefully clean the cabling and hardware of the data center equipment. Once everything is clean, staff should return the floor panels to their proper place before wiping them down with a staticide chemical solution.
From there, floors should be cleaned with an ESD vacuum with specialized HEPA filters to ensure that even the smallest particles of debris and dust are removed from the data center. This can be followed by a general rubdown with anti-static rags, a PVA mop, and a non-conductive staticide cleaner to ensure that all dust, dirt, grime, and other contaminants are also removed. Repeat the process as needed. Cleaning staff should take great care to ensure that as little liquid as possible is used to prevent seepage through the floorboards or potentially causing damage to expensive data center equipment.
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Once the floors are clean, staff should focus on cleaning and vacuuming light fixtures, ledges, air conditioners, work and desk surfaces, and other accessible areas before moving on to cleaning all other surfaces, including racks, storage cabinets, shelves, monitors, and more. Tape racks and the surfaces of exterior hardware should also be carefully vacuumed with HEPA filters, along with outlet and inlet grills of server cabinets, before being wiped down with an anti-static cleaning solution.
Special care should be used to ensure that all equipment and technology are being handled with the utmost respect to prevent costly damages. Whether internal or external cleaning services are being used for this process, they must receive specific training for correctly cleaning critical and delicate data center equipment without causing harm to it.
Tape Library Cleaning
Staff should clean and vacuum all surfaces, including individual tape slots. Ideally, cleaning teams should work with an on-duty member of the information system development (ISD) department or another relevant department to ensure that all tapes are handled carefully and returned to the proper locations once cleaning has been completed.
Clean Data Center Best Practices for Maintained Cleanliness
The data center cleaning process noted above is not the only element that keeps these facilities in top form while helping them protect the integrity of their equipment over time from the harmful effects of dirt, dust, and other contaminants. There are several other factors and best practices that data centers can use to stay as clean as possible while ensuring the quality of their technology. The following are some of the most valuable procedures and policies that data centers can put into place to help ensure the center stays as clean as possible for as long as possible.
Data Center Protocols
- Food and beverages of any kind should not be permitted in the same room as any critical equipment.
- Cleaning crews should take care to use as little liquid cleaning solution and water as possible on or near equipment to help prevent accidental and costly damages.
- All cleaning tools and materials should be rinsed or emptied away from the equipment. Vacuums, in particular, should be cleaned on the outside of the building to help prevent the release of light, airborne dust particles which can get into and cause harm to the data center equipment.
- Cardboard, paper products, and other office supplies should not be stored in the same rooms as critical data center equipment.
- Doors between non-equipment rooms and equipment rooms should always be firmly closed after use and never be propped open to prevent potential contamination.
- Packing and unpacking any tools or equipment inside the rooms containing computers or other critical equipment should be prohibited.
- Only authorized personnel should be granted any access to rooms containing critical data center equipment. Said personnel should also receive training on how to handle this equipment without causing any damage.
- Work should not occur in the same rooms as critical data center equipment until the environmental impact of said work is fully understood and approved by data center superiors to prevent possible contamination.
Routine Data Center Cleaning Protocols
- Cleaning should take place on a consistent schedule that relevant data center employees know to ensure the process is as effective as possible.
- Floors, underfloor plenum, and other surfaces should be cleaned regularly by qualified cleaning staff.
- Equipment should be regularly checked for dust, debris, and other contamination particulates before being carefully but thoroughly cleaned.
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