Trips to the server room can mean extended periods away from the comforts of home, or at least your desk. Especially if it is an off-site hosting facility.

What should you take with you, apart from a warm sweater for places with good air-conditioning?

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  • 1
    Things is, a decent server room temperature is around 23 degree Celsius - which should be comfortable enough... but many configurations have inadequate cooling which means they're cooling the room to freezing just to get a decent temperature inside the racks instead :/ – Oskar Duveborn May 1 '09 at 15:26
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    In my experience, anything left in a data center that won't actively trip an alarm when removed, will be gone within a year. Some stuff will be accidentally borrowed and some maliciously stolen, but gone none the less. – jj33 Mar 2 '10 at 17:30
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    +1 :( However, in this case, our cage is locked tight, and I don't think anyone's going to do some ninja stuff to steal my tools. – Bill Weiss Mar 2 '10 at 17:47
  • I know I get cold at 23C (('_')) brr +1 to jackets. – Jeshizaemon Jan 25 '11 at 17:33
  • Though a good cooling solution seams to mean it's freezing on one side of a rack and way too hot on the other side - an even worse situation ^^ – Oskar Duveborn Mar 24 '11 at 17:19

37 Answers 37


A PC with a floppy disk drive and a DVD burner, and a stock of floppy disks and writable CDs/DVDs.

A time will come when you will need to flash that firmware...

  • 1
    Floppy Disk! The number of times I've been saved by that long-obsolete technology... – Mark Henderson Jan 12 '10 at 22:20
  • Not to speak about installing pre-Windows 2008 systems when a controller driver is needed... – Massimo Jan 13 '10 at 6:46


Keep them locked away in the server room so they don't go walk about...


A desk, so you can go in there and work when the "outside" world gets to be too much. Also a fold-up bed/cot, for those times when things get so bad you're too tired to drive home afterwards. Oh yeah, and a beer fridge won't go astray either.

Personally, I've found one of the most valuable items to be a rechargeable torch (flashlight), mounted just inside the door. Non-rechargeable types have a habit of always being flat just when you need them most.


A small tool box to keep small tools mentioned above.


Anywhere I go in the building I take an iPhone and a headset.

In my grab bag I've got

  • An IDC punchdown tool
  • Side cutters
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Philips #1 and #2 (proper screwdrivers)
  • Magic marker and CD pen
  • Gaffer tape
  • Jewellers screwdriver set (a good one with Torx and a nice handle)
  • Multi-socket screwdriver and assorted bits
  • 1 GB Memory Stick
  • 120 GB HDD
  • Spirit Level (for servers and shelves if your rack isn't labelled into U's)
  • 2M CAT 5
  • 2M CAT 5 Crossover (RED so I don't accidentally use it)
  • Phone headset adapter (there's a wired phone in the server room)
  • USB-IDE converter for 2.5" laptop drives
  • USB cable (dual power for the above)
  • Neodymium magnets out of hard drive (handy for sticking notes to rack panels)
  • Wi-Fi access point for when the wired connections just aren't long enough or are obscured)
  • Cisco console cable
  • USB - P/S2 adapters for keyboards and mice
  • USB wireless keyboard/mouse combo (made for media centre). I need to replace this as it's a bit dodgy, doesn't register all keypresses if you are typing rapido.
  • Mini wired USB mouse
  • Nylon cable ties
  • 3G USB dongle
  • Twisty ties
  • Spare IEC mains lead.
  • Extension cable and power strip.

I obviously bring a laptop as well (actually mightn't be that obvious). At present it's a Dell X-1, small, light, good battery life with the extended battery.

I have to note, it's all well and good having this stuff in your kit bag, but make sure it works before it's an emergency at 3 a.m. on a public holiday weekend when nowhere is open.


A small pry bar (I use a Stanley Wonder Bar II) has come in handy a number of times -- trying to get a tight server out of the rack; replacing swollen batteries out of a UPS. But it gets its most use when I have to shift everything in the rack up a couple of mm because the server I'm inserting is just a hair taller than whatever it was I just took out. (Lossen a higher machine, lift it 'til it's tight against the one above it, tighten screws, repeat down the line).

If you weren't in a colocation centre, I'd also suggest a crash cart with a serial terminal, and a lift cart (for those times when your management won't give you a maintenance window, and you really, really need to move that server; it also comes in handy when you don't have enough people to safely unrack that ancient 8U UPS, but can extend it far enough to get a lift under it).

  • Why if it's not a Colo we have those things in our Colos. Crash carts are all the more important in a Giant Server Room. – JamesBarnett Nov 28 '11 at 3:25
  • @James : because the couple of colos I've been to didn't have places to store & secure them. I guess some might be different, looking at the various answers here. And I'd think a lift would be something that the colo should buy, not each individual renting space. – Joe H. Nov 28 '11 at 15:04

I work for a colocation centre company and in our cages we have:

  • Label maker (One of the most important things)
  • Table
  • Chair
  • Monitor, keyboard and mouse (with 20 ft cable extenders to reach way in the back of the rack)
  • Crash cart (monitor mounted like in a hospital)
  • Spare PDU
  • Lots of spare copper and fiber cables
  • Sometime old servers for spare parts
  • Spare disk drives
  • Drill
  • Screw driver with lots of bits
  • Velcro and zip Ties (for cable management - very important)
  • Exacto knife to cut zipties
  • Probably some other tools, see others answers for a better tool list
  • Tool bag to carry the tools
  • Headlamp
  • Pen and paper
  • Rack rails, screws, and mounting hardware
  • Power cables
  • Cable tester
  • Plastic bins (to organize the above)

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