IT Infrastructure

The Importance of Cleaning Your Data Center

For almost every company, regardless of size or industry, the server room or data center is the heart of the business. Whether you are a small restaurant or a fortune 500 company, you spend a ton of time and money building and maintaining your network infrastructure. Preventing data loss or hacking is what comes to mind first when we discuss network safety and security, but what about the physical safety of the hardware itself? While cybersecurity and disaster recovery plans are extremely important, they aren’t the only thing to consider when it comes to protecting your business. The cleanliness and organization of your server room or data center can also pose a huge threat.dusty-computer

Why do I need to clean my data center?

Contaminants such as dust, dirt, clothing or skin particles, zinc and metal fibers can collect on your servers, computers, and cabling. Another contaminant to consider are particles released as belts within the cooling system breakdown. Up to 80% of particles are tracked into the data center on the soles of shoes, so reducing foot traffic in these areas is a good preventative measure. While these particles are often missed by the human eye due to being airborne, they collect over time and can cause a spike in hardware temperature up to 30℉. Temperature increases can cause device failure on a massive scale, resulting in downtime and data loss.

In addition to causing damage to the hardware itself, dirty or dusty data centers are a fire hazard. Dust buildup combined with static electricity has the potential to start a fire resulting in the loss of a business entirely. 

What are the risks of a dirty data center?

The average cost of downtime for a larger company is $5,600 per minute, often resulting in a cost of over $500,000 for a single event. While the cost of repairing or replacing equipment may only equate to a small portion of this cost, the losses for end user and IT productivity can but much higher.

Particles collecting on cabling, ports and hardware can also create interference, slowing down productivity and inhibiting communication. Disorganized cabling, or cables in contact with power cords can also create an environment for interference resulting in slower connectivity speeds and communication disruption.

Who should be responsible for cleaning the data center?

Cleaning your data center is not the same as cleaning the rest of the workplace. You should not have your janitorial staff entering or cleaning this space. If you are unable to hire professionals to clean your data center, you will need to train a member of your staff (ideally someone in IT) to clean this space properly. It is of utmost importance that this individual understands which products are safe to use and how to move around the space without disrupting any of the cabling or hardware.

Data Center Cleaning Tips:

  • Hire professional data center cleaners periodically. These cleaners will safely and effectively clean your data center hardware and sub-floor plenum.
  • Do not sweep your data center, this causes particles to become airborne which moves them from the floor to the surfaces of your hardware
  • Use a HEPA vacuum (high efficiency particulate air). These vacuums filter out 99.9% of air particles ensuring that you are not pushing them back into the air.
  • Use a dry mop that is dedicated to the data center- do NOT use a dry mop that is used elsewhere, or you risk bringing those particles into the data center. A dry mop needs to be replaced regularly to ensure that it is effective.
  • Use only hardware-safe cleaning tools and products such as lint-free and static dissipative wipes, and static dissipative solutions with a neutral PH.
  • Never use water or household cleaning products in your data center. These products can cause corrosion, electrical shorts from static, and pose the threat of spills.

Data Center Cleanliness Maintenance Tips:

  • Hire a professional data center cleaning service quarterly if possible.
  • Train a member of your IT staff to clean the data center safely and ensure that it is regularly cleaned.
  • Limit all foot traffic in the data center. If possible, require shoe covers and static-reducing gloves for anyone entering or handling hardware.
  • Clean the floors of your data center frequently with a HEPA vacuum
  • Keep the floors of your data center free of any clutter. This room should not be used for storage of any kind. This reduces the risk of personal hazard and the amount of particle contaminants in the air. 
  • Ensure that your hardware and cabling is accurately labeled an organized. This will reduce the amount of time and people that need to enter the data center when upgrading or maintaining hardware.
  • Wipe down all of the surfaces of the data center, including the tops of racks or cabinets with a hardware safe cloth on a regular basis.
  • Install doors on your cabinets or racks to protect your hardware
  • Frequently inspect your cooling system, including air intake locations, to ensure that they are running efficiently. If your cooling system air intakes are dusty, they are pushing particles into the air.

If you have questions on how to clean your data center or are interested in having us come out and clean it for you, reach out to us at or call 763-475-5500.

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