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Why It Is Important To Have Adequate Computer Cooling?

And what is adequate computer cooling?

Simple: If it runs at or below manufacture's temperature specifications it will last a long time, usually beyond the processors useful computing capability.

A question was asked of me "What it would take to put a computer [server] in a closet out of sight and harms way?" (The owner has small children).

Older processors had very large copper or aluminum heat sinks with a fan on top to move fresh air over the heat sink louvers.A second part of the question was: "If I had to do maintenance on the server would I have to be in the closet to do it?"

First let's consider the requirement for cooling.

Different types of computers require more or less cooling than others such as:

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....
Computer type Cooling
A laptop Low
A pre-manufactured desktop Medium
A pre-manufactured server Medium
A custom built desktop Medium / High
A custom built server High

Were Cooling is:

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....
Low Adequate with just ambient air and built in fan
Medium Adequate with just ambient air and built in fans
High Requires air circulation in the area the computer is located, may have to be at 64*F or lower.

Adequate computer cooling is important to a computer's operation, service life, and well being.

For normal operation of a laptop or pre-manufactured desktop and some servers they will be fine with ambient air (air flow in the room with normal circulation) and the fan or fans that come built in to the computer by the design specification.

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Where you start running in to problems with custom built desktops and servers will be when they shut down do to high internal temperatures.

Considerations for adequate computer cooling:


Consider a custom built desktop: Most have more memory, more storage, higher resolution video, some have high power sound systems. All these components require more power to operate, power when used creates heat. Excessive heat will cause the computer to shut down unexpectedly...

Dual fan liquid cooled (lc) heat sink and radiator. Now consider a custom built server: Most servers have more computing power, more storage, and more memory than the normal desktops. When the server is custom built it may have more storage, more memory, and a higher number of high end processors. All the more and high end equates to more power needed to operate these devices which in turn means more heat. Like the desktop excessive heat will cause an unexpected shut down of the server. This increase in heat means larger fans and bigger heat sinks or liquid cooling which is now commercially available, if you decide to use liquid cooling research for the highest quality.

A question was: "Will it bother the computer to be in a closet?" Short answer - yes.

A closet will not have the air circulation nor the volume of air a room will have.

If you decide to put your servers/desktop/laptop in a closet to keep little fingers from touching the wrong buttons then the closet needs to be modified in such a way that there is a constant flow of fresh air and the heated air is removed to have adequate computer cooling.

Something we all learned in grade school is: That hot air rises and cool air sinks.

Custom made heat sink with high speed (hs) fan, expenisve...So for your closet computers you need to have the cool air delivery at the bottom of the closet and the hot air exhaust at the top. Piece of cake, no?

Nope, not that easy is it? I mean you have to have two openings in the closet somewhere, one for the fresh air in and one for the heated air out.

If the closet door isn't a sealed door and you have an opening at the bottom between the door and the floor/carpet that will do for the fresh air in.

Now you only need one opening at the top of the closet to extract the hot air.

I did a special installation at a site back in the day that all we did was get a bathroom exhaust fan / light fixture. We cut the appropriate size opening in the ceiling of the closet, mounted the fan / light, wired it in to turn the light off and on, put a switch between the fan and the power to turn it off and on. Wired the fixture up, turned on the fan, put a pull chain on the light and we were done. That server never shut down due to over temperature.

The next part is pretty easy also, accessing the computer from outside of the closet: Remote Control.

Because it is a server it will be on a LAN (Local Area Network) and that makes remote control an easy option. You could use a third party solution such as Dame Ware or one of the others or if it is a Windows server use the Remote Desktop built in to the operating system.

You could go as far as to use a KVM Switch (Keyboard/Video/Mouse) if it was close enough to your normal computer and cut out the need for a monitor, mouse, and keyboard for the computer in the closet. However you have to deal with a cable running from the closet to your computer and sometimes that is limiting factor if it is a long distance.

You will find more answers  here for adequate computer cooling.

So there you have my solution to putting a computer in a closet and how to make sure it doesn't over heat with adequate computer cooling, and how to do maintenance on the computer with out setting in the closet with the computer!   Smiles

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