Written by John Miller
Spring has sprung here in Maine, so it's time to clean some computer equipment.
Today, we're going to start with Jennay, my HP DL380 G9 which acts as the primary server on my network for both production and lab uses. After shutting down the lab VMs and migrating the production VMs to a temporary host, the cleaning could commence! This box had 120 days uptime prior to being taken down, which is pretty good for me.
First, we have to clean the top of the server itself, which tends to take the role of a sort of shelf in my rack. Mostly a junk shelf. It also holds our cable modem, an external hard drive, two Pis with GPS clock duties, and the UPS for the network gear. The cables on this stuff are all long enough that they can be moved aside without being powered down.
And now it's clean!
Don't forget to install your UPS-supporting cat food container.
Then we can take it outside and get a closer look at what we have. Lots of buildup on these side vents by the power supplies.
Using the shopvac with the hose connected on the back to blow (it was moved after this photo) in conjunction with a firm paintbrush to get more stubborn dust out of there.
It's really not that bad inside, but there are a few corners where there's bad accumulation, and a fine surface layer over everything that will just get worse over time.
Again, it's hard to tell, but it's MUCH cleaner now. Especially everything around the fans, they were caked with very fine dust.
The second goal with taking this server down was to add a small fan to the onboard HBA controller. It is regularly the hottest point in the system, usually between 52ºC and 55ºC. The larger part of the heatsink is almost perfectly 40mm on each side, and there is a 12v powerpoint nearby on the PCIe riser.
It's a good fit, and there were metal tabs on the ends of the wires that allowed them to snugly fit into the large 12v connector.
I also used a very small amount of hot glue on the front and rear edges to tack it into place.
This modification brought the temperature of the onboard RAID chip down to 42ºC - it's still one of the warmest components, but a 10º drop is significant, and should lower the thermal stress on it significantly. The next time I take the server down I may remove the module and replace the thermal interface material between the controller and heatsink.
The important parts back in place, all the other junk is in a box on the floor. Here's to another 120 days!