This three questions have been merged into this one. The following answers might have come from any of them, or might be a generic answer to all of them.

  • Is there any kind of tool to assist in loading an unloading servers? I realized that I lack both height and upper body strength to remove servers from the upper tiers of a rack? I could not find the name or type of equipment that folks are using to do this kind of work safely?

  • In this video can I see that they use a dedicated "server lift" http://www.racklift.com/RackLift-Demo-Video.html which looks quite expensive until you consider the cost of what your lifting.

    Does anyone know of cheap server lifts or other tools that can be used for this?

  • In this video: http://vodpod.com/watch/2515104-rack-and-install-the-cisco-ucs-5108-server-chassis 3:18 into the video. I'm curious about Server Jacks and possibly ballpark costs for them.

  • 13
    Isn't that what interns are for?
    – EBGreen
    Aug 10, 2009 at 19:09
  • 11
    I know want one of those lifts... What I usually use is called "unsuspecting coworker"...
    – Sven
    Jan 4, 2011 at 14:42
  • 8
    Interns, maybe? Jan 4, 2011 at 14:43
  • 10
    Wingardium Leviosa! Jan 4, 2011 at 14:51
  • 1
    I'm not sure which I'm more disappointed by: the fact that it isn't fully automated, or the "no riders" sticker.
    – mattdm
    Jan 4, 2011 at 21:44

15 Answers 15


Why is everyone giving the wrong answer?

It's called a scissor lift:

(source: vestilmfg.com)

They make servers that are hundreds of pounds. Lots of storage arrays are far more than that. There comes a time when you don't want to rely on hands that were, most likely, just reaching for greasy potato chips.

Use the actual tool if server lifting is an issue.

  • err... look above, first the obvious then the tool :) Aug 10, 2009 at 19:44
  • 1
    They also make ones that are operated by cranks; we have one and it's been invaluable. Just make sure your rack is level (or at least is even with the table of the lift) before you try to mate a 200 lbs unit with it's rails, which are invariably built with the most delicate plastic and pot-metal components known to man. (I'm looking at YOU, Sun Microsystems!) Aug 10, 2009 at 19:59
  • 1
    Potato chips? Potato chips? Everyone knows that the sysadmin salty snack of choice is the cheeto... preferrably puffed. :-)
    – RascalKing
    Aug 10, 2009 at 20:29
  • Will that lift a server all the way to the top of a 42U rack? Aug 10, 2009 at 20:45
  • 1
    Agreed, we use them to fill racks with blade enclosures, nobody's strong enough to do the tops ones on their own.
    – Chopper3
    Aug 11, 2009 at 10:53

It sounds like a silly question at first, but its actually an important health and safety point - ideally the person / people doing the lifting should be wearing safety boots even if a special hoist is used, and should be trained in whatever technique/tools they're using.

We use a wheeled trolley (like this one - make sure you get one with brakes) to move servers and we lift directly from that if its going into the top half of a rack, but other than that we just use the appropriate amount of people to do the lifting rather than anything fancy.

There are tools out there that are designed exactly for safely lifting, installing and removing heavy equipment from racks, and these are the ideal solution. Certainly something I personally think should be present in a busy datacentre where lots of hardware changes need to take place.


The Mk 1 human head. Always worked well for me.

  • +1. Muscles + Brain ---> not common today
    – tmow
    Jan 4, 2011 at 15:44
  • 4
    no, i mean litrally. :) Get some poor sod to stand under it and balence the thing while 2 others shout about how bad the rack mounts are.
    – Sirex
    Jan 4, 2011 at 20:10
  • any HP rails prior to g4/5 standard = Hell on earth Jan 20, 2011 at 22:15
  • Only messed with dell and ibm, sounds like ive been lucky!
    – Sirex
    Jan 21, 2011 at 8:11
  • did some hp ones today, and you're right they're a total pain.
    – Sirex
    Mar 24, 2011 at 17:49

Your own two hands (or four if you have a helper, random victimization works well). Hold it like a pizza (one hand in the middle underneath, and the other on the front) and slide it into place. Be careful about how you're lifting the box, we have servers that weigh up to 70lbs.

  • 1
    I've always done it with two guys for the heavy machines, when I was in small companies. In closets too small for a scissor lift, and no justification for buying one. At big companies, I was never on the team that would do the racking.
    – mfinni
    Jan 4, 2011 at 15:12

Google search for "server lifts" gives lots of results: link text. That type of lift will go to the top of a rack. We have a few in our DC, and they are invaluable.




Assuming you can't find any interns or colleagues to help, the name of what you are looking for is a server lift. Googling for rack mount server lift should point you in the right direction.


I don't know about the one in the video, but a search for server lift yields some likely results (including pricing information). My recollection is that there was a question here on ServerFault a while ago that had lots of recommendations for this sort of thing, but my brief search just now didn't yield anything.


Use a server lift if this is a common thing:


Otherwise, you can use 2-3 people to assist.


HERE is either the same lift or one very similar indeed.

Here's a picture


interns, coworkers, friends and step stools.

  • 3
    I'm not sure why this one has been downvoted so often (4 times as I type this). In smaller organisations that is exactly what you do, with the exception of the step stool, which is just plain dangerous. If you only fit a server every year or two it's hard to justify large sums on fancy equipement. Aug 11, 2009 at 2:36
  • This is what you might do but its hardly safe. lifting a 25 drive raid sever into place (even empty) to a particular bay is difficult and sometimes backbreaking. I am looking for tools to not do this - technology chagnes all the time and economies of scale make a rare tool common place in a few short months.
    – MikeJ
    Mar 7, 2010 at 19:19

My tool is named Mike.

Seriously, you just need to ask for help... some of the Dell RAID arrays we have need 3 or more people.

  • 1
    Well, one can generally judge the quality of a craftsman by the quality of his tools :) Aug 10, 2009 at 19:32

one of those: http://www.server-room-furniture.com/server-lift.html


we have a server lift cart I am not going to name the company, there are many that build them. save your back and use the right tool for the job.


We actually own a SL500 ServerLift at my data center. Really great investment. if you are worried about what lifting servers can do to your employees, and the actual servers, i suggest you get one.


thats the one we have at our company, check it out, see if it's for you.

  • 5
    Do you work for the company that provides the equpiment, or are someone that just uses it?
    – tombull89
    Nov 23, 2011 at 21:05

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