Powering down old servers

A hard disk drive with the platters and motor ...

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IT departments are under increasing pressure to conserve energy and one way to do this is by powering down older servers that are no longer in use. Every IT department has at least one server that was never fully decomissioned. It may contain a legacy system that the organisation wants to keep just in case. Previously these systems would be left running for years but now you may be tempted to shut them down, and only power up if needed. Unfortunately you may find that when you go to power up these systems there is a high possibility of a hard drive or multiple hard drives failure, a power supply, or even a cpu fan.

There are other scenarios too where older servers need to be power down like for example if you are moving to a new data centre or even if they are standby servers used for contingency in case of a disaster.

If you are powering down a server that has been running for over 12 months then I would highly recommend that you are fully prepared with full backups (I know we all have those anyway), systems discs, any serial numbers or license keys you may need, and lastly if required some support on standby. I have expericnced problems with old Digital Alphaservers and newer EMC SAN’s but to be fair this can happen with any brand.

In the case of legacy systems maybe it’s time to look at virtualisation, this is a great way to keep older systems running on newer hardware. I would be interested to hear other peoples experiences with shutting down older equipment.

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