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How to correctly move a server inside a rack up and down

Just wondering what people's thoughts are on moving a MSA60 over one rack. I have plenty of free cable slack, and was wondering if two of us could carefully move it while it's live. It has 12 750GB SATA drives in it. I'm just not sure if those drives are engineered to stay put, and if they encounter any vibration how they handle it.

EDIT: I'm moving this -over- as in a horizontal move, not up/down a space. After reading all the comments, I'll be powering this guy down, and minimize the risk of data loss.

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marked as duplicate by gWaldo, Dave M, mdpc, Khaled, Scott Pack Feb 3 '13 at 0:57

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
FWIW: serverfault.com/questions/355807/… –  Deer Hunter Feb 1 '13 at 19:25
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OP - you say "over one row in THE rack" and then you say "over one rack". Do you mean you are moving it from one rack HORIZONTALLY to another new rack? Or by your "row" comment did you mean you want to move it up/down in the existing rack it is in? HUGE difference, even though the recommendation would still be to power it off, still a HUGE difference. –  TheCleaner Feb 1 '13 at 20:06
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imho if it's important enough to want to keep it turned on while moving it, it's important enough to turn it off and do it right. –  Sirex Feb 4 '13 at 8:50

7 Answers 7

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Yes, this could work, but it sounds stupid. Definitely not a professional approach to a physical hardware move.

You're going to have other issues and the consequences of a potential mistake are probably greater than the downtime needed to do it properly. Please make sure you know where the power button is!!

Why would you do this, though?

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I think I'll power it down and move it. Sounds like that is the consensus. :-) Yes, I am moving it horizontally over to another rack, right next to the current rack. Thanks to everyone for commenting.. –  bgarlock Feb 6 '13 at 13:35

Generally a drive can handle moving while spinning. However, with that many drives and that amount of weight, I wouldn't want to take the chance. Power it off and do it the right way.

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:-) That's what I plan on doing. Thanks for your comments.. –  bgarlock Feb 6 '13 at 13:37

Definitely best practice to shut it down, but if you can keep it steady, a little bit of movement shouldn't cause a hard drive crash.. Too bad you don't have SSDs running in it?

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:-) SSD's would be great! Hopefully they will continue to drop in price, and I think I read somewhere that they have come up with a way to increase the write life significantly. –  bgarlock Feb 6 '13 at 13:41

Sure, moving the device over could work. But what if something happens?

Best thing to do is backup your data, verify backup data, shutdown device, unplug, move device, cable properly, and power on device. Then verify everything is operational.

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You might have enough slack for the network cables up front. I doubt that you have enough slack in your power cables to from the back of one rack, out the front, back in through the front of another one, all the way to the back of the new rack.

Power it off, move it safely, fix your cables as you go.

/Edit -for some reason I thought this has network cables on the front of the rack. It appears to have them in the back.

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Yea, all the cables are in the back on this guy. Also is the "beloved" power button, which usually stumps people when powering it up. Usually power buttons are on the front of equipment, but for this, it's on the back :-) –  bgarlock Feb 6 '13 at 13:40

Can it be done? Sure.

Should it be done? No.

  • That thing weights over 50lbs with drives in it - not overly heavy, but awkward to carry even without cables attached - more so with the cables in place.

  • I don't have this particular model, and can't tell from the diagrams online - but you will need to make certain the "ears" at the front where it screws into the rack are detachable, since you'll need to pull it out the BACK of the rack to keep the cables connected.

  • If it uses rails or a shelf, you'll either need a second set, or to have someone detach the rails and attach them to the other rack while other people support the device. And in close quarters, it wouldn't take much for the guy unscrewing everything to jostle you and make you lose your grip.

  • A small slip while it's off MIGHT cause data loss. A small slip while it's on will almost CERTAINLY cause data loss.

  • Either way you do it, make sure you have backups in place and that you have verified them.

You are far better off scheduling a bit of downtime to shut it down and move it. You might save a bit of time moving it live if everything goes smoothly - but you'll lose a lot of time if anything goes wrong. It's generally not worth it.

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In reality hard drives can withstand a fair amount of movement while in operation without problems. They are certainly not as sensitive as some people appear to believe. However, what you are proposing defies common sense.

If you are careful this is certainly possible but considering the weight you're going to need at least two people holding the unit while you fiddle with the mounting hardware. That's three people who could cause the unit to be jolted or even dropped.

You might be careful enough to ensure it all goes well but can you be that sure of the others? Are your cables long enough for the move? Have you considered all the consequences of the unit being dropped? That's bad enough at any time but a lot worse when the unit is in use and presumably you have people accessing it. In such a case your backup simply can't recover everything.

This doesn't even make sense if your are considering changing jobs. Such things will follow you.

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I listen to the "Security Now" podcast, and Leo and Steve were telling a story of how someone hooked up some kind of scope to a HD, and any vibration would cause the error rate to go up on the HD. Even YELLING at it would cause it to move data away from the bad sectors! I think there is a YouTube video of this somewhere. Also heard on that podcast that 60TB HD's are coming! Physically, I don't know how they do it! –  bgarlock Feb 6 '13 at 13:39
    
If they're going to tamper with a drive so that they can demonstrate such stuff they have already drastically altered the drive to the point where any results are unrealistic. Nice gimmick but absolutely worthless as data. –  John Gardeniers Feb 7 '13 at 2:18

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