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Protect Your Data Center During A Heat Wave

A prolonged heat wave can be disastrous for your business. Environmental conditions can lead to health concerns for your employees, reduced office productivity due to the heat, and power outages due to overworked power grids can lead to server failure, hard drive crashes, and data loss.

Heat waves occur all over the globe and regardless of where they happen, it’s important to make sure that organizations are monitoring their facilities to protect against the problems that heat waves bring. Temperature, humidity and power outages are the biggest concerns when a prolonged heat wave arrives and environment monitoring is critical to have in place before temperatures rise.

Temperatures rise quickly when HVAC goes down

Data centers and server rooms should have their own dedicated HVAC to help cool them and provide a humidity-controlled environment. The proper temperatures and humidity levels help prolong server and hard drive life while providing cushions against elevated heat or moisture in the event HVAC and/or power is lost.

During a heat wave it’s not uncommon for power outages to occur when power grids become taxed due to the excessive use of air conditioners in homes and businesses. Every data center and server room should have UPS units protecting equipment against sudden power loss, and some also have dedicated backup generators in the event power is lost for a longer period of time.

While UPS units allow you to gracefully power down servers and devices before the batteries give out, if your HVAC is not tied into a backup power source, the temperatures in your server room will rise quickly. With external temperatures already on the higher end, any HVAC loss during a heat wave will cause those optimal temperatures to quickly rise into the danger zone when it comes to hard drive health. While your hard drives may not fail immediately, it’s proven that just temperatures just a few degrees above optimal operating ranges will cause errors when data attempts to write to the hard drives in your facility.

Even if power isn’t lost, HVAC units work overtime during heat waves. If an HVAC compressor gives out due to the high amount of use, your data center is immediately put at risk of data loss. This is especially true if your facility is unmanned or the HVAC goes down during a window that you don’t have staff onsite, such as weekends or after normal business hours. Being alerted to a sudden spike in temperature is the difference between taking temporary measures to reduce temperatures to a more manageable level and replacing thousands of dollars of ruined drives and appliances.

Some smaller businesses operate a server room in an area that wasn’t specifically designed to host servers and mission-critical appliances. Perhaps it was an unused office, storage space, or even a closet that was designated as the “data center” when they moved into that particular facility. As a result, cooling and ventilation most likely wasn’t designed to handle the exhaust heat that servers and computers give out in a smaller space. When a heat wave hits and power or HVAC is lost, those areas are quickly overwhelmed with heat and humidity that’s catastrophic for sensitive devices and hard drives. It’s even more critical to be notified immediately by environment monitoring when power is lost or conditions change to help prevent downtime and data loss that can cost thousands in lost revenue, not to mention customer confidence if their services or data are unreachable for a while.

Protect against sudden power loss

Sudden power loss in your data center or server room is an even more critical concern during a heat wave. With an overtaxed power grid, suddenly losing power can lead to hard drive crashes than can cause data corruption or even total loss if your drives aren’t being backed up on a regular basis.

As mentioned earlier, UPS units can help provide a short window to keep servers up if power comes back momentarily. If power is going to be lost for a prolonged period, UPS backup power can allow you to gracefully power down servers and devices to protect against crashes. Proactive environment monitoring will notify you of a power loss so you can immediately address the issue to prevent data loss, either by manually powering down devices or by having corrective actions automatically kick in, such as shutdown scripts being sent across the network; this is especially helpful for those off-hours power loss situations.

Immediate notification of power loss can also help you and your team recover in the event servers do crash or there’s hard drive failure. Knowing the exact time power was lost can help you recover data from offsite backups in order to restore services as soon as possible once power is reliably restored. Power fluctuations can also cause physical damage to devices, so constant power on/off reports may result in taking additional actions to ensure a power surge or constant fluctuations don’t cause costly damages.

Don’t let a heat wave leave you in the cold

Heat waves, storms, power loss and more are inevitable for many geographic areas. If your organization is in a region that’s prone to high heat and heat waves, having proactive environment monitoring will let you respond to any issues immediately to help prevent downtime and data loss in your data center or server room.

Whether you have 2 servers or 2000, any data loss you suffer can be disastrous. Enhance your business continuity plan and prepare for heat waves and other extreme weather by installing proactive monitoring before disaster strikes.