Servers - General

How to clean enclosure

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Frequent Advisor

How to clean enclosure

First yup, I know it should be in a cleaner place... Ok, a customer purchased an N-class server with FC-60/SC-10s enclosed in a standard vertical E-41 enclosure. I STRONGLY voiced my opinion suggesting they store it in a cleaner place but to no avail. Now after only two months it's filthy with dust both outside and so too are the front covers of the drives. Ok, simple question - how to clean them? Vacuums seem out of the question. Can simple weelkly wipe-over with a dust cloth do?

...having a hard time believing I have to write this...
Jeff Schussele
Honored Contributor

Re: How to clean enclosure


Well now they're going to have to pay the piper - aren't they?
I'd use a vacuum, but reversed - blowing not sucking - every couple weeks. Wipe it down even more frequently. Try to set up a fan to move the dislodged dust on out *somewhere* when you do these procedures - else it'll just settle back on/into the system. There are also filters on the front of the system that will have to be removed & cleaned - also blow them out - do that outside if possible. Blow them from the back out.
But the bottom-line is they will severely shorten the life of this system & arrays. They just simply aren't designed for this type environment.
Hope you're charging them a healthy fee if you're carrying maintenance on this system....

Good Luck,
PERSEVERANCE -- Remember, whatever does not kill you only makes you stronger!
A. Clay Stephenson
Acclaimed Contributor

Re: How to clean enclosure

I've seen some amazinging dusty systems on factory floors than ran for years without problems. In your case, I would do something like an annual or semi-annual shutdown, take the covers off, and vacuum. I have even seen some boxes near aerospace hydraulics teststands that would regularly get a soaking with oil mists and continue to soldier on.

I would hesitate to do a wipedown of a running box; all you are doing it stirring up more dust to get sucked into the box. It make make you feel better but I doubt that it will do the machine any good.

It's been my experience when the environment is this dusty; temperature and humidity controls are essentially non-existent as well.
Those environmental factors are of greater concern than your dust.

If it ain't broke, I can fix that.
Frequent Advisor

Re: How to clean enclosure

Actually the one good thing is the temperature and the humidity. The rack came preinstalled but with no sponge filters inside the drop-down windows (the doors that drop down on the SC-10 enclosures). I'm reluctant to just put some on as I then worry about temperature and ventilation.
Martin Johnson
Honored Contributor

Re: How to clean enclosure

I would recommend a quarterly (or monthly, if the environment is really bad) shutdown, then vacuum. Check and clean any filters. If the filters get clogged, it stifles the airflow, which, in turn, could cause overheating - a far worse problem than the dust.

Mark Greene_1
Honored Contributor

Re: How to clean enclosure

The type of dust is important to consider regarding the impact on system life. Metal and glass dust are obviously going to be much more harsh on a system that just regular dirt, and require different clean-up methods as well. Any chemicals in the air (noxious or otherwise) just add to the problem.

If the environment is really that detrimental, they would be much better off building a special closet for the server into which they can pipe some A/C than to leave it exposed like that. In the long-run this will be a cheaper soloution than to pay for drive replacements, which they may have to do. If the drives (and other parts) are damaged due to obvious environmental hazards, you can bet HP will not warranty them.

Balancing the cost on a single T&M disk swap with the associated downtime vs. the special construction costs should help them come to the right decision.

HTH, good luck,

the future will be a lot like now, only later
Honored Contributor

Re: How to clean enclosure


Always remember one thing that the dust in any environment and especially where servers are installed will always give you problems in near future.

Always ensure that the server environment is dustfree. Before cleaning any dust you should be very careful since it may create problems if the servers are not handled properly while cleaning. Most of the server circuits and mainboards cannot come in direct contact with the dust and hence majot problems are avoided. Only the fans, some harddisk enclosures and smps units expose to dust and hence these components should be cleaned carefully.


harry d brown jr
Honored Contributor

Re: How to clean enclosure

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