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Long story short, my server room is a bit ... dirty.

Just had a little construction done, and there is pretty nice layer of dust on a few systems.

From my knowledge, I can either:

  • Use an Anti-Static vacuum
  • Use an air compressor

Which is better? Any recommendations on particular Anti-Static vacuums?

(I don't want a little belkin "wand", I want a real vacuum if I'm going to buy one.)

EDIT: Below pauska posted a comment. Is anyone else willing to verify this statement?

There are special anti static vacuum cleaners aviable, but I really do not see the point of using that instead of a normal vacuum cleaner with a plastic nozzle. Just make sure youre grounded with a wristwrap and it really shouldnt be any problem. – pauska

I have always been told to never use a normal vacuum on a computer. I've never seen evidence. It's just what I've always been told.

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7 Answers 7

Personally I'd use a combination of the compressed air with a regular vacuum in close proximity to "inhale" the dust after it has been blown off the boards.

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I'll add that the vacuum should be HEPA filtered. Otherwise using a "regular vacuum" will just blow the dust back into the air. –  Joseph Kern Jun 15 '09 at 15:35

an air compressor will just blow the dust around to settle elsewhere in the data center. I'd vote for a vaccumm solution.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

As a follow up, we ended up buying a 3M ESD Safe Toner Vacuum.

It works great, and I've had no problems during the clean up process. It comes with many attachments, and is the single tech product that sucks on purpose.

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Vacuum cleaner with a plastic endpiece (anti-static like you said) is the way to clean stuff when you can't blow the dust away with compressed air.

Using compressed air inside a server room is not very clever as the dust will circulate and eventually drag inside the servers.

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I was under the impression that an anti-static vacuum is more than just a special nozzle. Not a vacuum expert myself ... –  Joseph Kern Jun 14 '09 at 1:47
    
There are special anti static vacuum cleaners aviable, but I really do not see the point of using that instead of a normal vacuum cleaner with a plastic nozzle. Just make sure youre grounded with a wristwrap and it really shouldnt be any problem. –  pauska Jun 14 '09 at 2:06
    
I agree with pauska. I have a "server" room in my house with 4 machines in it running off the normal house AC. Although I keep filters clean etc, there is still dust accumulation. About once a year I'll power everything down, take the machines outside and use a regular shop vac bought from the local hardware store to blow everything out. Been doing this for awhile with zero problems to date. –  Chris Lively Oct 13 '09 at 14:40
    
Incidentally, the keys here are 1. I power everything down; and 2. the act of moving causes the static build up to be grounded. I wouldn't use a regular vacuum on a running machine. You can't get the fans clean that way anyhow. –  Chris Lively Oct 13 '09 at 14:43

We have a local company named DPEnvironmental that comes in to clean our room. They somewhat oversell themselves, talking about how terrible dust can be, but they don't charge too much and they do a good job, quickly vacuuming the whole room and the servers and switches w/out ever damaging anything.

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There is a company around here that does server room cleaning. It's not really worth it, but in terms of saving my time or a co-workers, having a couple people come in with good HEPA vacuums seemed reasonable every couple of years.

If I had to do it myself in the next little while, I'd get the company to buy a decent consumer HEPA vacuum and use that. We have an A/C that keeps the humidity high enough that I wouldn't worry about static. Well, now that I've read this thread, I probably would worry about it, but we have grounding straps in the company's electronic lab, so I'd probably use those.

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I tend to use a specialist company for this sort of thing, who wants to explain to their directors why their servers are broken when you're caught holding the dustbuster ;)

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