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How To Set Up a Server Room on a Budget

As your small business expands, your data management needs will eventually outgrow your main network setup and require a suite of servers to handle the increased influx of information. That means setting up a server room that meets your needs without putting you in a financial bind. From equipment selection to cable management, there are many ways to save money as you design this designated space for hardware.

Server Room Basics

Software that uses a central storage hub for data requires a server room with the power to handle that data and deliver it as needed. Backup capabilities are also essential to prevent the loss of important company and customer information. Your server room is the location that receives all the data coming in from the outside along with everything that you and your employees enter from the business network.

Server rooms consist of several pieces of equipment all running at the same time. This collection needs to be stored and cooled properly to prevent damage, which means choosing a location that isn’t going to be affected by outdoor conditions or electronic interference. The room should be out of the way but still be easy for IT personnel to reach, and the area should always be kept secure to prevent unauthorized access.

Start Small

Buying more than you need when setting up your server room may seem like a good idea if you’re thinking about future growth, but it’s easy to go overboard and waste money on storage space you’re not using. Calculate your exact storage needs and figure out a reasonable buffer for short-term growth before making any purchases. Look into budget-friendly brands that offer quality equipment at reasonable prices.

For mounting hardware, choose racks in appropriate sizes that are either freestanding or wall-mounted depending on the amount of equipment you’re putting in the room. Leave yourself space to upgrade and expand as the need arises without having to completely rearrange the equipment each time.

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Rack it Up

Storing equipment on racks keeps server hardware organized and prevents damage from overheating or improper setup. This keeps long-term repair and maintenance costs to a minimum. Solid storage cabinets are another popular option. The design promotes airflow from the front of the cabinet to the back and separates hot air surrounding working servers from the air in the rest of the room. These factors are key in maximizing efficiency and controlling cooling costs.

Consider Maintenance

Running any kind of electronic equipment means troubleshooting problems on occasion. Try to purchase all of your server room components from the same company to simplify these efforts and reduce the time necessary to correct hardware issues. Running a network of machines produced by one manufacturer makes it easier for tech support to identify the problem. It’s also less hassle for your in-house techs to become familiar with a network where all of the hardware has similar properties. They should be able to handle smaller issues on their own without the need for outside support so that you lose less of your valuable work time.

Organize Your Cables

The idea that keeping your cables organized can save money may seem strange. Messy server room wiring puts a strain on equipment and can cause it to overheat. Bundling and labeling cables not only fixes this problem but also simplifies the process of moving and adding equipment. The less time you spend on the management of server hardware, the more time you can devote to the profitable aspects of running your business.

While you’re labeling cables, it’s a good idea to label all other components and note how they connect. A clear labeling system further simplifies and streamlines the process of troubleshooting or upgrading.

Be Smart About Cooling

One of the reasons that you need to stick with your budget when building a server room is the fact that cooling is a non-negotiable long-term cost of maintaining the health of your equipment. You can’t rely on the air conditioning or the cooling fans in the servers themselves to keep everything cool enough. Multiple pieces of equipment running at once generate a lot of heat, so you’ll need a dedicated cooling setup.

Have server equipment cleaned regularly to remove accumulated dust and dirt and improve operational efficiency. Clean equipment runs cooler, meaning less outside effort is needed to prevent overheating. Components that run at different temperatures should be stored together to prevent any one area of the room from becoming too hot.

Getting Started with Setup

You can find guidelines for server room standards online. Many of them from college or universities looking to define best practices for equipment storage and management. These guides provide details on:

You must also plan for a certain amount of redundancy to prevent data loss. Missing information can cost your business far more than you’ll pay for the additional infrastructure necessary to ensure reliable backups. Work with your IT department or a professional consultant to design a setup that supports the level of redundancy necessary to get your business back up and running.

Starting with a smart plan for your server room makes it easier to visualize what you need to buy. It shows how to set everything up and how much maintenance will be involved in the future. Incorporate these budget-friendly setup tips into your plan to create a network that supports proper equipment operation. This minimizes the need for repairs and guards against data loss. Keeping these measures in mind will not only save you money on setup but also on the long-term costs associated.