Author Topic: Backup servers in a barn?  (Read 2626 times)

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Offline Urs42

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Backup servers in a barn?
« on: December 18, 2017, 02:33:17 pm »
Not sure if this is a good idea, i do have two Buildings on my property the house where i live, and a barn, i need some "off site" backups of my stuff, it would be great to have a server over there.

I did run some Embedded Computers without issues at -15°c but i'm not so sure how a server with harddisks will handle this environment, i guess i can add some heating and air filters to a rack but is that enough? Humidity is also a Problem, not sure how to deal with that...

 

Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 02:37:15 pm »
I would be more worried about humidity, if I'm honest. Cold isn't a huge problem, as these things generate heat and it's just a matter of restricting the cooling enough for things to keep themselves warm.

Can you somehow build a "clean cell"?
 

Online bd139

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2017, 02:48:35 pm »
I wouldn't do this. Cold and humidity are really bad problems and will shorten the life of the machine by quite a bit. Capacitors, disk bearings, fan bearings etc don't like the cold or humidity. If you get a power cut for example, and you're down for 4-5 hours that is enough to finish off the power supply on startup at -15.

Best to have something entirely off site (amazon S3 or something).
 

Offline Urs42

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 03:12:38 pm »
I wouldn't do this. Cold and humidity are really bad problems and will shorten the life of the machine by quite a bit. Capacitors, disk bearings, fan bearings etc don't like the cold or humidity. If you get a power cut for example, and you're down for 4-5 hours that is enough to finish off the power supply on startup at -15.

Power is really stable here, power outages longer than one second are very rare. I do have a generator that can provide enough power for all important stuff.

Best to have something entirely off site (amazon S3 or something).

I do have some servers in a datacenter, the big issue is the uplink speed on my internet connection. I can't upload all the stuff i have over a 25mbit/2.5mbit DSL line.  I had some luck with dumpsterdiving and do now own several JBOD Enclosures with 14 1T Disks. I do not have enough space at the datacenter for that  :-[




 

Offline Urs42

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2017, 03:15:37 pm »
Can you somehow build a "clean cell"?

A local scrap dealer did sell some used telco outdoor racks, that would be a great solution. But they are sold out now  :'(
 

Online rdl

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 09:51:57 pm »
Look at you local building products store for rigid foam board insulation. A couple of sheets of that and some duct tape you could build a box to fit around the computers. As long as at least one machine is running, that may be enough to keep them all from freezing.

https://www.homedepot.com/b/Building-Materials-Insulation-Rigid-Insulation/N-5yc1vZbaxx
 
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Online David Hess

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2017, 10:46:18 pm »
Air filtration is a must to keep dust out.  The outside enclosure should be completely sealed except for the screened air inlets and outlets to keep bugs and mice out.  I prefer to use fans on inlets to provide positive pressurization.

As far as temperature and humidity, if the ventilation fan varies its speed to maintain a higher temperature inside the cabinet than outside, then the higher temperature inside lowers the relative humidity preventing condensation problems.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2017, 12:18:45 am »
If the gear is running continuously then humidity won't be a problem, it will be warm enough inside the equipment that the air will be rather dry just as it gets dry inside your house in the winter. If you want to keep it from getting too cold, put it in an enclosure with a bit of insulation, it will put out enough heat to be self warming.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2017, 05:51:08 am »
I will be less worried about the cold and much more worried about humidity, condensation and airborne particles. If somehow you can economically filter and dry the air, then sure, I'd do it.

But you're probably better off just writing your important data to tape, or several hard disks, putting them in a pelican case and storing them off-site.
 

Online Berni

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2017, 06:50:51 am »
I wouldn't be too worried about humidity as long as its always running.

Just put it in a insulated box with a fan blowing trough it via a large furnace filter. Then have the fan run by using a industrial PLC or similar to sense the inside and outside temperature to run the fan accordingly. As long as its a few degrees warmer inside than it is outside then condensation wont be able to happen. Probably set it to keep the insides at room temperature, but if the outdoors gets too warm to do that then just keep it a set number of degrees above outdoors.

If you do this make sure to also have a separate thermal cutout. The fan failing could cause the insides to get rather toasty so its a good idea to have a separate device inside that senses the temperature going above a certain point and cutting the power to the whole server. As a backup the PLC mentioned above could also use a digital output to cut a relay to provide some redundancy to the thermal cutout.
 

Offline Urs42

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2017, 08:09:16 am »
Just put it in a insulated box with a fan blowing trough it via a large furnace filter. Then have the fan run by using a industrial PLC or similar to sense the inside and outside temperature to run the fan accordingly. As long as its a few degrees warmer inside than it is outside then condensation wont be able to happen. Probably set it to keep the insides at room temperature, but if the outdoors gets too warm to do that then just keep it a set number of degrees above outdoors.

Sounds good, i will modify an old Rack, i think it also needs some protection from rodents in front of the filters and air outlet.

If you do this make sure to also have a separate thermal cutout. The fan failing could cause the insides to get rather toasty so its a good idea to have a separate device inside that senses the temperature going above a certain point and cutting the power to the whole server. As a backup the PLC mentioned above could also use a digital output to cut a relay to provide some redundancy to the thermal cutout.

The servers i'm using wil shut down before components fail*, but a thermal cutout is always a good idea. I'm planning to add two fans with    
independent control and power supplies to the rack.


* I know this because the redundant airconditioning in a very expensive data center did fail once, and all HP DL3XX servers did survive
   temperatures from about 45 to 50°c. Supermicro and Dell servers where all dead.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2017, 08:24:16 am »
I'd do without any air filtration or whatever housing because it adds unnecessary complexity and points of failure. By the time cold & humidity are a problem the hardware will be end-of-life anyway. It can be very cold, humid and dusty inside a building (home) as well and PC hardware survives that without a problem. I'd be way more worried about heat.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2017, 08:29:20 am by nctnico »
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Offline Electro Detective

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2017, 09:18:22 am »
A couple of cats parked in the barn with beds/boxes/blankets near the servers will sort out the rodent problem   >:D



 

Offline Lord of nothing

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2017, 09:53:47 am »
Until the Cats figure out how to open the Rack and play with the Cable.  :-DD

I have more concern about the UPS. The Accu should not freeze.
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Online Berni

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2017, 10:29:26 am »
Well a barn can be a lot more dirty than a house and servers can have pretty long lifetimes in home use when its mostly a glorified NAS and you don't have 10Gbit networking.

As for the UPS i would just stick it inside the warm rack. Id amuse you just want a UPS that can keep it up long enough for it to safely shut down so its pretty small.

As for overheating servers i heard of a case where a company was testing servers in a environmental chamber to make sure they work over the rated temperature range. Due to the environmental chamber and server having a high power usage they ware plugged in to two different power outlets. Then during the night something happened to trip the breaker for the chamber while the servers inside kept running. As the walls of the chamber are well insulated that made the temperature climb higher. In the morning they found a awful smell and upon opening the door they found the plastic parts on the servers started melting and all of them are completely dead.

I think it has a lot to do with what the server is doing when the failure happens. Things like the CPU have a temperature sensor that makes them slow down if they are too hot and finally turn off if its getting really bad. But modern CPUs use very little power when idle so they wouldn't get hot and yet are capable of running past 100°C die temp just fine. On the other hand power supplies and regulators on motherboards don't have any temperature sensors. So while the temperature aware CPU might be happy running in a 100°C ambient if its idle all the time, but the hard drives or the power supplies might not be and suddenly let out the smoke. While if you tried to hammer the CPU with 100% load in 100°C ambient the thing would probably instantly shut down.
 

Offline Urs42

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2017, 10:40:25 am »
Modern Servers do have a ton of sensors, they will shut down if any of the sensors is out of the allowed range. This is not the case for a home buildt server with some PC Mainboard in a "server case".

Code: [Select]
UID              | 0x01              | ok
Sys Health LED   | 0x00              | ok
01-Inlet Ambient | 22 degrees C      | ok
02-CPU 1         | 40 degrees C      | ok
03-CPU 2         | 40 degrees C      | ok
04-P1 DIMM 1-6   | disabled          | ns
05-P1 DIMM 7-12  | 30 degrees C      | ok
06-P2 DIMM 1-6   | disabled          | ns
07-P2 DIMM 7-12  | 32 degrees C      | ok
08-HD Max        | 35 degrees C      | ok
09-Exp Bay Drive | disabled          | ns
10-Chipset       | 41 degrees C      | ok
11-PS 1 Inlet    | 35 degrees C      | ok
12-PS 2 Inlet    | 37 degrees C      | ok
13-VR P1         | 38 degrees C      | ok
14-VR P2         | 42 degrees C      | ok
15-VR P1 Mem     | 29 degrees C      | ok
16-VR P1 Mem     | 28 degrees C      | ok
17-VR P2 Mem     | 35 degrees C      | ok
18-VR P2 Mem     | 32 degrees C      | ok
19-PS 1 Internal | 40 degrees C      | ok
20-PS 2 Internal | 40 degrees C      | ok
21-PCI 1         | disabled          | ns
22-PCI 2         | disabled          | ns
23-PCI 3         | disabled          | ns
24-HD Controller | 56 degrees C      | ok
25-LOM Card      | 53 degrees C      | ok
26-LOM           | 40 degrees C      | ok
27-Front Ambient | 25 degrees C      | ok
28-P/S 2 Zone    | 35 degrees C      | ok
29-Battery Zone  | 32 degrees C      | ok
30-iLO Zone      | 36 degrees C      | ok
31-PCI 1 Zone    | 33 degrees C      | ok
32-PCI 2 Zone    | 34 degrees C      | ok
33-PCI 3 Zone    | 32 degrees C      | ok
34-HD Cntlr Zone | 34 degrees C      | ok
35-I/O Zone      | 31 degrees C      | ok
36-Storage Batt  | 25 degrees C      | ok
37-Fuse          | 37 degrees C      | ok
Fan 1            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 1 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 1 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 2            | 15.68 percent     | ok
Fan 2 DutyCycle  | 15.68 percent     | ok
Fan 2 Presence   | 0x28              | ok
Fan 3            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 3 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 3 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 4            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 4 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 4 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 5            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 5 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 5 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 6            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 6 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 6 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 7            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 7 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 7 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Power Supply 1   | 65 Watts          | ok
PS 1 Output      | 65 Watts          | ok
PS 1 Presence    | 0x0d              | ok
Power Supply 2   | 55 Watts          | ok
PS 2 Output      | 55 Watts          | ok
PS 2 Presence    | 0x0b              | ok
Power Meter      | 120 Watts         | ok
PwrMeter Output  | 120 Watts         | ok
Power Supplies   | 0x00              | ok
Fans             | 0x00              | ok
Megacell Status  | 0x00              | ok
Memory Status    | 0 error           | ok
C1 P1I Bay 1     | 0x01              | ok
C1 P1I Bay 2     | 0x01              | ok
C1 P1I Bay 3     | 0x01              | ok
C1 P1I Bay 4     | 0x01              | ok
 

Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2017, 04:23:14 pm »
Modern Servers do have a ton of sensors, they will shut down if any of the sensors is out of the allowed range. This is not the case for a home buildt server with some PC Mainboard in a "server case".

Code: [Select]
UID              | 0x01              | ok
Sys Health LED   | 0x00              | ok
01-Inlet Ambient | 22 degrees C      | ok
02-CPU 1         | 40 degrees C      | ok
03-CPU 2         | 40 degrees C      | ok
04-P1 DIMM 1-6   | disabled          | ns
05-P1 DIMM 7-12  | 30 degrees C      | ok
06-P2 DIMM 1-6   | disabled          | ns
07-P2 DIMM 7-12  | 32 degrees C      | ok
08-HD Max        | 35 degrees C      | ok
09-Exp Bay Drive | disabled          | ns
10-Chipset       | 41 degrees C      | ok
11-PS 1 Inlet    | 35 degrees C      | ok
12-PS 2 Inlet    | 37 degrees C      | ok
13-VR P1         | 38 degrees C      | ok
14-VR P2         | 42 degrees C      | ok
15-VR P1 Mem     | 29 degrees C      | ok
16-VR P1 Mem     | 28 degrees C      | ok
17-VR P2 Mem     | 35 degrees C      | ok
18-VR P2 Mem     | 32 degrees C      | ok
19-PS 1 Internal | 40 degrees C      | ok
20-PS 2 Internal | 40 degrees C      | ok
21-PCI 1         | disabled          | ns
22-PCI 2         | disabled          | ns
23-PCI 3         | disabled          | ns
24-HD Controller | 56 degrees C      | ok
25-LOM Card      | 53 degrees C      | ok
26-LOM           | 40 degrees C      | ok
27-Front Ambient | 25 degrees C      | ok
28-P/S 2 Zone    | 35 degrees C      | ok
29-Battery Zone  | 32 degrees C      | ok
30-iLO Zone      | 36 degrees C      | ok
31-PCI 1 Zone    | 33 degrees C      | ok
32-PCI 2 Zone    | 34 degrees C      | ok
33-PCI 3 Zone    | 32 degrees C      | ok
34-HD Cntlr Zone | 34 degrees C      | ok
35-I/O Zone      | 31 degrees C      | ok
36-Storage Batt  | 25 degrees C      | ok
37-Fuse          | 37 degrees C      | ok
Fan 1            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 1 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 1 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 2            | 15.68 percent     | ok
Fan 2 DutyCycle  | 15.68 percent     | ok
Fan 2 Presence   | 0x28              | ok
Fan 3            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 3 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 3 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 4            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 4 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 4 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 5            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 5 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 5 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 6            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 6 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 6 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Fan 7            | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 7 DutyCycle  | 19.60 percent     | ok
Fan 7 Presence   | 0x32              | ok
Power Supply 1   | 65 Watts          | ok
PS 1 Output      | 65 Watts          | ok
PS 1 Presence    | 0x0d              | ok
Power Supply 2   | 55 Watts          | ok
PS 2 Output      | 55 Watts          | ok
PS 2 Presence    | 0x0b              | ok
Power Meter      | 120 Watts         | ok
PwrMeter Output  | 120 Watts         | ok
Power Supplies   | 0x00              | ok
Fans             | 0x00              | ok
Megacell Status  | 0x00              | ok
Memory Status    | 0 error           | ok
C1 P1I Bay 1     | 0x01              | ok
C1 P1I Bay 2     | 0x01              | ok
C1 P1I Bay 3     | 0x01              | ok
C1 P1I Bay 4     | 0x01              | ok
Regular computers are also equipped with a ton of sensors. The most vulnerable part is the CPU and these have had self protecting sensors and mechanisms ever since the Pentium 3. Overheat a CPU and it will shut down the computer. You can turn this setting off, but you will need to deliberately do this. When they're turned off, they should be able to stand quite extreme temperatures.

A number of remotely modern servers killing themselves through overheating sounds like misconfiguration and error on the part of the system administrator. There's no way these servers don't have these safety features and in most cases the servers will scream bloody murder by spamming you with warnings too.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2017, 06:30:12 pm »
HP servers also will tell you they are warm ( or any of the numerous flaps is open) by ramping up all the fans to tornado speed, and the resulting screaming is going to alert anybody with some semblance of hearing within 30m of them that there is a problem.
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2017, 06:42:50 pm »
I have a 30TB backup server located in a detached shop, It's heated but kept at about 50F during the winter, on 24-7.  Been there ~2 years now, no issues.

The shop is sealed with a concrete floor, but sees tons of welding/grinding/sanding/etc, the box is just sitting on the floor, should probably take a peek inside.    :scared:

Offline Lord of nothing

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2017, 12:41:39 pm »
Maybe you not know about there is made a great invention the called Metrical System.  :-+
You should hear about.
Made in Japan, destroyed in Sulz im Wienerwald.
 

Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2017, 12:48:55 pm »
I have a 30TB backup server located in a detached shop, It's heated but kept at about 50F during the winter, on 24-7.  Been there ~2 years now, no issues.

The shop is sealed with a concrete floor, but sees tons of welding/grinding/sanding/etc, the box is just sitting on the floor, should probably take a peek inside.    :scared:
I'd like to know how that looks. Grinding dust is probably one of the worst thing you can do to a computer. Electrically conductive dust. What can go wrong?
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #21 on: December 20, 2017, 12:57:23 pm »
I'd like to know how that looks. Grinding dust is probably one of the worst thing you can do to a computer. Electrically conductive dust. What can go wrong?

Checked it yesterday.  Outside looked like it had been dunked in a septic tank, inside was pretty clean, good to go for another 2 years.   :popcorn:
 
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Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2017, 01:09:03 pm »
I have a 30TB backup server located in a detached shop, It's heated but kept at about 50F during the winter, on 24-7.  Been there ~2 years now, no issues.

The shop is sealed with a concrete floor, but sees tons of welding/grinding/sanding/etc, the box is just sitting on the floor, should probably take a peek inside.    :scared:
I'd like to know how that looks. Grinding dust is probably one of the worst things you can do to a computer. Electrically conductive dust. What can go wrong?
 

Offline Urs42

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2017, 02:36:47 pm »
Regular computers are also equipped with a ton of sensors. The most vulnerable part is the CPU and these have had self protecting sensors and mechanisms ever since the Pentium 3. Overheat a CPU and it will shut down the computer. You can turn this setting off, but you will need to deliberately do this. When they're turned off, they should be able to stand quite extreme temperatures.

No CPU did fail in that case, it was most likely some part of the chipset. All servers did still power up but they had uncorrectable ECC errors or did not find some pcie devices like RAID or network cads. Cards, RAM and CPUs did still work in other servers.

A number of remotely modern servers killing themselves through overheating sounds like misconfiguration and error on the part of the system administrator. There's no way these servers don't have these safety features and in most cases the servers will scream bloody murder by spamming you with warnings too.

The servers had safety features, we did get temperature alerts but the automatic shutdown was too late. Nobody here did change the thermal shutdown configuration of the management module.  This was in a 500m² room filled with racks, it will get hot very fast when the airconditionig fails...



 

Offline Lord of nothing

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Re: Backup servers in a barn?
« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2017, 02:40:59 pm »
 ;) open the Windows and lett a nice swiss breeze come in.  :-+
Made in Japan, destroyed in Sulz im Wienerwald.
 


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