When running a data center, your primary concerns often involve keeping the computers cool and ensuring the company’s data stay organized and secure. Data center cleaning should also be a top priority on your list. A clean environment is integral to your server room’s functionality, and a professional cleaning team is essential to achieving that. In this guide, we’ll discuss why you should use a data center cleaning service and what you can expect from the experience.
Why Use a Data Center Cleaning Service?
Data center equipment can collect dust and debris like any other object — only it becomes more difficult to clean because of the machinery’s sensitive components. Dust and ferrous metal particles collect on circuit boards, but these can’t be cleaned off the same way you might with other surfaces. Improper or absent cleaning procedures can allow for additional debris accumulation, which can lead to equipment overheating and malfunction. A data center cleaning service is trained to handle these specialized concerns.
Ridding the air of dust and debris improves working conditions for your employees, boosting their health and overall morale. Taking the time to ensure your server room is clean shows you care about the company as a whole and want to provide a healthy environment for your workers. And with higher morale and fewer sick days, your employees’ productivity will rise, benefiting your bottom line.
There are many great reasons to use a data center cleaning service over a standard janitorial service. Here are just a few outlined below:
1. Protect Your Technology
Small amounts of particulate matter, such as electrostatic dust, can cause hard drive and tape failures. Even 250 volts of static electricity can result in data memory loss and circuitry damage. Electrostatic dust sticks to the surfaces of your equipment and acts as an insulator, preventing it from cooling down as necessary. Temperature monitoring for data center equipment is a delicate process — an increase of a few degrees could encourage overheating.
You may have stringent environmental monitoring practices in place, but overlooking something as simple as vacuuming away dirt and dust could undo that hard work. If you find your machinery often experiences unexplainable downtime or failures, an unclean environment might be why.
2. Prevent Contamination
Workers, technicians and cleaning teams can bring contamination into a data center if they step inside without the proper equipment — or if the center itself isn’t well-equipped to block outside contamination. Sticky mats, shoe covers and hairnets are a few ways for your in-house team to decrease contamination before the cleaning team ever arrives.
Some materials, like zinc whiskers, can be incredibly small or even microscopic to the human eye, meaning you’ll never visibly see all the contaminants within a room. These concentrated particles can cause fires and even explosions when close to heat sources. They don’t have to come solely from within your facility, either. Many data centers exist in areas with poor outdoor air quality, which can introduce pollutants like motor vehicle exhaust.
3. Extend Your Machinery’s Lifespan
When you hire excellent data center cleaning services, you’ll have fewer contaminants to worry about and, therefore, fewer equipment failures to manage. Your machinery will last longer when it’s properly maintained, meaning you’ll decrease the time and resources spent on costly repairs and replacements.
Downtime costs North American companies up to $700 billion a year. It’s a better tradeoff to deal with scheduled downtime for equipment cleaning rather than work around unexpected periods of downtime caused by damaged devices. DataSpan’s cleaning services take this to the next step — we do our jobs while your equipment is running to avoid downtime.
4. Avoid Expensive Mistakes
Janitorial services work well for many fields, but they aren’t adequately equipped to manage the demands that come with cleaning a data center. Data center cleaners undergo extensive and continuous training to stay on top of the latest developments in equipment cleaning techniques and best practices. DataSpan technicians are trained according to ISO 14644, ASHRAE TC9, World Health Organization, and the institute of Environmental Sciences and Technologies to help test and identify sources of contaminates during our cleaning services in your data center, ISP, network, control room or other critical environments.
Similarly, they must have proper clearance for accessing rooms containing vast sensitive data. This prevents data from being compromised, which may require expensive security improvements in response. Ask these questions before employing anyone to perform data center cleaning for you:
- Have they received training that adheres to the ISO 14644 standard?
- Do they use the proper chemicals, such as antistatic cleaning solutions?
- Do they record particulate counts before and after the cleaning to ensure your data center is ISO compliant?
- Do the provide an Environmental report on your data center?
- Do they know the appropriate security measures for keeping data secure while accessing the center?
- Does your data center cleaning company offer national or international cleaning programs to help you reduce costs and increase site efficiencies?
Data Center Cleaning Procedure
This general overview gives you a glimpse of what the typical data center cleaning procedure includes. Once you’re familiar with the method, you can have more peace of mind about hiring a team to service your facility.
Installing IT equipment may involve drilling, which creates metal particles and shavings. To remove these and other types of debris, your cleaning team will use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HEPA vacuums can remove 99.97% of materials like dust, bacteria, mold and more. This vacuum is often the preferred model for industrial and commercial applications because of its high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). DataSpan teams also use ultra-low particulate air (ULPA) filters that can remove 99.99% of the particulates that are 0.12 microns or more in diameter.
Flat surfaces like windows, the tops of racks and doors will also be vacuumed and wiped down using microfiber cloths and data center appropriate cleaning chemicals.
The data center’s subflooring is a prime spot for fallen debris and live contaminants, such as insects and rodents. Installing a deck seal can prevent particles from entering the server room’s cooling system and affecting the equipment.
HEPA vacuums also work well for picking up tiny particles in this area of the data room. Your cleaning team will remove the floor tiles and move the cables out of the way for better access. If there are any cables that no longer serve a purpose — or show signs of wear — this would be a good time to remove them to keep your subfloor clean and organized.
Keep in mind that your team likely won’t raise more than 24 square feet of tile at a time. Doing this prevents other contaminants from becoming airborne.
People track in dust when they enter the data center without wearing protective materials, but this material can also come from the ceiling plenums. Dust fallout can cover surfaces throughout the server room and enter the cooling system. As such, the ceiling plenums should be cleaned with a HEPA-filter vacuum and microfiber cloths. Ideally, this area should receive a deep cleaning twice a year.
Like the rest of the room, the raised floors can be cleaned with a HEPA vacuum, antistatic cleaning chemicals and a dry or damp mop. The dry mop takes the place of your typical broom — these only stir up more contaminants and spread them across the data center. If your data center has perforated tiles, they will need to be removed and cleaned outside of the server room to avoid moisture leaching into the subflooring below.
Choose DataSpan for Your Data Center Cleaning Services
If you’re looking to hire an experienced company to clean your facility, DataSpan offers expert data center cleaning services for all your needs. With over 40 years of experience in servicing data centers, we handle everything from above-ceiling cleaning to subfloor sealing. We know how destructive downtime can be to your business, which is why we provide thorough environmental consulting, customized service frequencies and highly trained specialists to help you keep your data center clean and running smoothly.
Contact us today to get more information about our specialized cleaning services, or our wide array of other products and services, including air management or power and cooling solutions. You can also get in touch with a local representative to hire our cleaning team in your area.