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Are everyone else's server rooms noisy?

Do you have continuous sound metering, do you put meters in from time to time, or do you just put up with it?

Does anyone wear ear protectors in a server room?

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In fact they are noisy which is why at my workplace we tend to avoid working for a prolonged time inside the server room :) –  Spirit Feb 20 '12 at 12:22
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They should also be pretty chilly and sparsely furnished. And you can't bring foodstuffs in. Further discouragement for squatters :) –  XTL Mar 20 '12 at 14:23
    
Where I used to work we were required to wear ear protection in the server room (required in the sense the boss told us we had too). –  Celeritas Jun 26 at 17:15

10 Answers 10

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Even though a server room isn't unbearably loud, it's noticeable at least. I've spent a few days in our server room at the datacenter a while (=2 years) ago because everything went very bad when one of the juniors hooked up an insecure windows server into the domain (woopeee, reinstall the domain :/). I play drums myself, so I have very nice ear protection. I brought those on the second day, and I noticed a very big difference in my condition at the end of the day. On the first day, I was a wreck. The constant noise, even though you don't really notice it after a while, really wears you out physically. With the earplugs everything is so much more relaxed.

I can really recommend buying a set of earplugs with a separate filter, something like these. You don't want el-cheapo earplugs, because you'll have to replace them too often. Getting a set of these with interchangeable filters works for more than just the datacenter. At a music concert for instance, or when you have to go to other noisy (maybe louder) environments.

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Excellent advice, but it would help if you clarified what type ear protection you are referring to - "these" doesn't refer to anything in your answer that I can see. –  Peter LaComb Jr. Apr 30 '09 at 20:37
    
Hearos are what I use. hearos.com –  aharden May 12 '09 at 16:54
    
What about active noise cancellation? –  Konrads Feb 4 '11 at 0:42
    
Just out of curiosity, but what happen to the junior that compromised the domain? (I am a junior sys admin myself :) ) –  Spirit Feb 20 '12 at 12:20
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@Spirit : Nothing too bad really. We couldn't blame him, because we shouldn't have assumed that he knew everything. Eventually it was a structural problem with procedures, we didn't think we needed to check eachother's work. I can advise you to always ask when you're not sure, especially when dealing with publicly available servers ;-) –  Erik van Brakel Feb 20 '12 at 12:44

Depends on the numbers of servers vs. the space. When we built out a small test lab with a few servers in the racks, it wasn't so noisy. Now that it's fully populated, it is. Those fans create a lot of noise. In our case, I don't think we actively do sound monitoring because there's not a whole lot you can do about the noise. So we just put up with it.

And while it's annoying, I don't know anyone who wears ear protectors. Then again, our time in the server room is often limited to physical hardware installs. We use remote desktop and SSH to connect to our servers from our desks or our IP-based KVM solutions (which can virtual mount CD/DVDs).

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I usually have in-ear headphones and music playing so that I don't go totally mad when working in a server room or datacenter for any length of time. If I am just popping in and out it is quite re-assuring to hear everything as you hear when something changes, and thus "sounds" wrong.

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If you go to 4:05 in this video of Google's "Shipping Contaier" data center, you'll see that the technician wears ear protection similar to what you'd find on a gun range or the guys helping to park airplanes. I think it's a good idea that doesn't hurt.

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I have a special set of earphones for my iphone that go in-ear; that way, I can block out ambient noise significantly, listen to music, and wait on hold for a support tech to answer some random question. Griffin's got a pretty good set for $30 or so.

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We actually started using acoustic server racks like these in our server space. They make quite a difference on their own.

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I always wear earmuffs when at my data centre (my company supplied them). It's very easy to get hearing loss in life. You can either be subject to really loud noise (over 110 decibels) and this will start doing damage very quickly, or you can be subject to /extended/ periods of noise that isn't quite as intense. You can do some research online in regards to how many decibels and how long you are subject to it, so tell how much damage is being done.

It's also worth noting that any kind of hearing damage is absolutely permanent. You damage hairs inside your hear that will never regain function. It also means you'll likely develop a ringing in your ears even when you're in a silent environment, and this will also never go away.

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I've never been in a server room that was unbearably loud, even with several hundreds of servers. If yours is, the room may be too small. I would consider some sound deadening over the walls and ceiling.

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Not unbearably loud, just noisy enough that you have to shout from one end of the room to the other. –  Richard Gadsden Apr 30 '09 at 11:43

I would highly recommend having a professional sound test undertaken in order to confirm the noise exposure level. Depending upon the results appropriate action can then be taken.http://soundmonitor.co.uk

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Sound Monitor, welcome to SF! This reply's pretty relevant, moreso as the OP is in the UK (same regulatory regime as you), so I personally have no issue with it, but you might want to read the section of the FAQ entitled "May I promote here?" at some point, just for informational purposes. –  MadHatter Mar 28 '13 at 9:56

When I have to go to our datacenter, I usually bring my android phone with noise canceling headphones and I'll put on classical music while I work there. I hardly hear anything other then the music.

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