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March 13, 2024 | Channing Lovett

What is Data Center Maintenance? 8 Best Practices

While data center outages have fallen in recent years, issues that arise from downtime can still pose a huge problem for businesses. More than two-thirds of outages cost organizations over $100,000 and can be very hard to recover from. By performing data center maintenance, businesses maintaining their own data centers on-premises can get in front of equipment-based disruptions and make processes run more smoothly. We’ll talk about what data center maintenance is, the approaches companies can take, and the 8 best practices you can use to make your maintenance projects even more effective. 

What is Data Center Maintenance?

Data center maintenance includes proactive and reactive practices that repair, monitor, inspect, and service all systems that keep a data center running. The goal of data center maintenance is to maximize uptime, extend the lifespan of your data center equipment, and optimize the performance of all data center components.

Why is Data Center Maintenance Important?

Data center maintenance is important for multiple reasons. Regular maintenance, regardless of strategy, can help identify and prevent issues that can lead to system failure. Power outages, equipment failure, security vulnerabilities, and even dust and dirt can bring business to a halt.

Businesses that invest in data center maintenance can experience improved uptime, reduced operational costs, and improved security. Preventative measures can also help greatly reduce the likelihood of major outages.

Types of Data Center Maintenance

There are three main types of more proactive data center maintenance – preventive, reliability-centered, and predictive. Corrective maintenance also exists, which is concerned with fixing equipment that has already broken.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance involves routine tasks performed regularly whether the equipment needs a repair or not. While it can help prevent most problems, it can also be overkill and cost more than a company is willing to spend.

Reliability-Centered Maintenance

For a more nuanced strategy, businesses may opt for reliability-centered maintenance. With this approach, companies prioritize their critical systems and plan maintenance tasks accordingly. Systems that are less vital to business operations are not tended to as often as a result.

Predictive Maintenance

Like reliability-centered maintenance, predictive maintenance (typically implemented using a tool like predictive AI) focuses on the most urgent priorities, often determined by sensors and data analysis that identifies current conditions and potential failures.

8 Data Center Maintenance Best Practices

Choosing one data center maintenance practice and sticking to it is better than not attempting to make any changes at all, but the more you can incorporate, the more prepared your business will be to repair and proactively fix equipment in your data center.

Ensure Uptime by Creating Redundancies

By implementing redundant systems, businesses can improve their uptime and make maintenance easier. Consider adding redundant components such as additional power supplies, cooling systems, and network connections.

Keep Indoor Climates Stable

Equipment that must withstand fluctuations in temperature and humidity will experience more wear over time. The more you can keep indoor climates stable, the less frequently you will have to replace equipment. One of the ways you can ensure a more stable temperature inside is by using data center environmental monitoring tools to keep an accurate eye on:

  • Humidity
  • Temperature
  • Airflow

Create Stronger Testing Protocols

Some systems may only be truly put to the test in emergencies, such as power generators, backup systems, and fire suppression equipment. It’s important to regularly test these systems to ensure that they will perform as expected during actual emergencies.

Implement at Least One Type of Data Center Maintenance

Depending on your budget, the number of critical systems you have, and the level of uptime you want to guarantee, consider implementing at least one form of data center maintenance. For example, sensors that allow for predictive maintenance can work well alongside a tiered approach via reliability-centered maintenance.

Hire Adequate Staff for Operating and Maintaining Data Centers 

The smooth functioning of your data center is directly connected to the staff you have available to operate and maintain the facility. One of the leading causes of problems related to downtime stems from human error and poor management practices. To combat this, businesses should either hire people who are well-versed in data center maintenance or consider outsourcing the work to an external team of experts.

Keep a Clean Environment

One of the simplest maintenance tips can also be highly effective. Dust and debris can overheat and wear down equipment. Keeping a tidy environment by regularly dusting, sweeping, and performing other cleaning tasks can help extend the life of your components.

Practice Good Data Hygiene

Good hygiene should also extend to your data. Keeping more data than you need adds an unnecessary load to your facility equipment. Implementing secure data storage can safeguard valuable information and prevent digital breakdowns.

Maintain Emergency Preparedness

Data center maintenance can’t protect you from everything. You also need to have preparedness measures in place for unforeseen emergencies, such as power outages, cyberattacks, and fires. Create a disaster recovery plan and test it at least once a year. Add physical security measures, such as video surveillance, access provisioning, and key management to reduce the potential impact of bad actors.

Make Implementing Data Center Best Practices Easier with an Expert

Even when steps to improve data center maintenance are laid out in a list, it can be difficult to decide which item to start with or find time to manage more than one initiative at the same time. By working with a data center expert, organizations can enjoy the benefits of preventative maintenance measures and free up their time to focus on other areas of their business. Learn more about TierPoint’s data center services by scheduling a consultation.

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