Knowledge Base / News
NOTE: An updated article with recommendations from the 2016 report can now be found online at this link.
By Rick Grundy
November 14, 2005
Monitoring the environment conditions in a computer room or data center is critical to ensuring uptime and system reliability. A report from the Gartner Group in late 2003 estimated that the average hourly cost of downtime for a computer network at that time was $42,000. It has likely gone up dramatically. At these high costs, even companies with 99.9% uptime lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in unplanned downtime. Maintaining recommended temperature and humidity levels in the data center can reduce unplanned downtime caused by environment conditions and save companies thousands or even millions of dollars per year.
Recommended Computer Room Temperature
Operating expensive IT computer equipment for extended periods of time at high temperatures greatly reduces reliability, longevity of components and will likely cause unplanned downtime. Maintaining an ambient temperature range of 68° to 75°F (20° to 24°C) is optimal for system reliability. This temperature range provides a safe buffer for equipment to operate in the event of air conditioning or HVAC equipment failure while making it easier to maintain a safe relative humidity level.
It is a generally agreed upon standard in the computer industry that expensive IT equipment should not be operated in a computer room or data center where the ambient room temperature has exceeded 85°F (30°C).
In today’s high-density data centers and computer rooms, measuring the ambient room temperature is often not enough. The temperature of the air where it enters the server can be measurably higher than the ambient room temperature, depending on the layout of the data center and a higher concentration of heat producing equipment such as blade servers. Measuring the temperature of the aisles in the data center at multiple height levels can give an early indication of a potential temperature problem. For consistent and reliable temperature monitoring, place a temperature sensor at least every 25 feet in each aisle with sensors placed closer together if high temperature equipment like blade servers are in use. We recommend installing TemPageR, Room Alert 7E or Room Alert 11E rack units at the top of each rack in the data center. As the heat generated by the components in the rack rises, TemPageR and Room Alert units will provide an early warning and notify staff for temperature issues before critical systems, servers or network equipment is damaged.
Recommended Computer Room Humidity
Relative humidity (RH) is defined as the amount of moisture in the air at a given temperature in relation to the maximum amount of moisture the air could hold at the same temperature. In a data center or computer room, maintaining ambient relative humidity levels between 45% and 55% is recommended for optimal performance and reliability.
When relative humidity levels are too high, water condensation can occur which results in hardware corrosion and early system and component failure. If the relative humidity is too low, computer equipment becomes susceptible to electrostatic discharge (ESD) which can cause damage to sensitive components. When monitoring the relative humidity in the data center, we recommend early warning alerts at 40% and 60% relative humidity, with critical alerts at 30% and 70% relative humidity. It is important to remember that the relative humidity is directly related to the current temperature, so monitoring temperature and humidity together is critical. As the value of IT equipment increases, the risk and associated costs can increase exponentially.
About AVTECH Software
AVTECH Software, a private corporation founded in 1988, is a computer software and hardware manufacturer specializing in providing network enabled monitoring hardware and Windows NT/2K/XP/2K3 based software to monitor multi-OS computers and network issues throughout a department or an entire enterprise. Once issues or events occur, AVTECH Software products use today’s most advanced alerting technologies to communicate critical and important status information to remote system managers and IT professionals via mobile phones, pagers, PDAs, email, the web and more. Automatic corrective actions can also be taken to immediately resolve issues, run scripts, and shutdown/restart servers or applications.
AVTECH Software is now the premier worldwide manufacturer of environment monitoring equipment specifically designed to monitor today’s advanced computer rooms and data centers. Our Room Alert and TemPageR products are used to monitor the Fortune 1000, Pentagon, United Nations, U.S. Government, Universities, and organizations large and small, in all types of industries.