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Ask Slashdot: Server Room Toolbox? 416

jandersen writes "I am the system manager in charge of a smallish server room (~50 servers, most in racks), and I am going to buy a set of tools; but first I want to hear what other people think would be a good idea. Certainly a range of good quality screwdrivers — slotted, Phillips, Pozidriv, Torx. But what else? Tape measure? Spirit level (for aligning the racks)? Any meters or cable testers? A wood lathe? I can probably get away with a budget of a few hundred GBP, but there ought to be some mileage in that."
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Ask Slashdot: Server Room Toolbox?

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  • Pencil and Notepad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) * on Thursday November 29, 2012 @03:31AM (#42127243) Homepage
    Cause in a real emergency they ALWAYS work. And are fast.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2012 @03:54AM (#42127379)

    Seriously. Hang a thermometer a foot or two (okay, 30 or 60 centimeters) from the center of the ceiling. Keep an eye on the little guy. Compare it to the thermostat's reading. The "real air" temperature in the room can often be much different than the temperature on the where the thermostat is attached, _especially_ if it's an exterior wall that's being pummeled by sunshine or winds.

    I've seen places where the temperature fluctuated so wildly as day and night cycled that it screwed with the equipment, Every time you have a failure document what kind, the thermostat temp and the thermometer temp. If you spot a pattern you might consider calling in the HVAC guys for a recommendation.

  • by Vrallis ( 33290 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @03:55AM (#42127389) Homepage

    Trying not to duplicate stuff above..

    - A cordless drill kept charged in the server room can definitely speed up SHTF moments. Keep a good set of miscellaneous screwdriver bits and drill bits with it.
    - Vice grips. It never fails that you find a screw, bolt or nut that are too stripped. Get a regular pair and a needle-nose pair. I even have a miniature one that is great for tight spaces.
    - For when the above fail, an E-Z-Out bit set or reverse drill set for when you finish breaking the head off the screw/bolt.
    - If you deal with serial at all (yes, it still exists in many modern datacenters), you may want to get a BlackBox sniffer setup, a good BOB (break out box), etc.
    - You want at minimum a basic RJ-45 UTP tester, preferably a large multi-type cable tester. A big expensive unit like a Fluke Netmeter may be great to have, but it will take a long time to pay off when there are other ways to troubleshoot issues like that.
    - If you ever work with 66 or 110 blocks with any regularity, get yourself a good spring-loaded punch, usually a Paladin. If you don't get one with a pick, get a basic set of picks as well to keep with it.
    - Small prybars. The first time you go to change batteries in a UPS and find out the old ones have swollen badly you'll be glad you had them. A pair of very large flat head screwdrivers can substitute, but be prepared to break them.

    Not counting ridiculously expensive stuff like Fluke Netmeters, Sunset xDSL kit, and other specialized gear, my basic sysadmin-oriented toolbag is probably around $1500 USD. Unfortunately in my current environment we have no tools around so I have to bring in all my personal gear for it. Very annoying.

  • labeler (Score:5, Insightful)

    by georgewad ( 154339 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @03:57AM (#42127399) Homepage

    label everything

  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @04:50AM (#42127649)

    This is the dumbest question posted here (in a long time).

    You may well be right. However, the stupidest question is always the one that isn't asked.

    Because right now you sound like a complete ignorant who don't even know what a server is.

    And you sound like somebody who feels the urge to put somebody down because it makes you feel a bit less bad about yourself. Alas, it didn't work - I don't really give a toss about what you say; if you believed in yourself, then you wouldn't be afraid of asking, even if it makes you look less than divine.

    And if you look around at the answers I've got, you will see that a number of people have given some very good advice. Some of it I already know, but there are some good, new ideas that I hadn't thought of.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @04:57AM (#42127665)

    You lose a man point for even asking that.

    Man points? Who cares about man points? A real man is not afraid of looking stupid, if he needs to learn. The only stupid question is the one you don't dare to ask.

  • Re:Buy crap tools! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @07:13AM (#42128155) Homepage

    I agree - real tools are a lot better. A dedicated torx screwdriver is better than a bits version, but you should have a bits screwdriver too.

    And then limit the access to the tools so only a few trusted persons have them. Painting them pink or something is a good addition to make them stay at home.

    A cheap DMM (able to take DC/AC Volt/Amp/Ohm) and a simple TP cable tester will be good to have too. No need to get the high level equipment, cheap stuff is good enough.

    And a flashlight - there will always be that pesky hard to read text somewhere on a device that you can't read without the right light.

  • Re:Hammer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @07:34AM (#42128219) Homepage

    for bashing in the head of the CTO when he steps into the server room to show that he "knows" computer and servers and stuff? Both times we had catastrophic failures, that idiot was in the server room poking around at things.

    Your best tool is to HIDE the room so that the incompetent people, like managers and executives, cant find it.

  • Re:Hammer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @08:09AM (#42128375) Journal

    Yes, a good hammer and a block of wood. Don't hit the device directly, lay the piece of wood across it first. Comes in handy for seating cards sometimes.

    If vendor warranties are a concern, you might want to look into the non-marring mallets used in fine finish carpentry and certain other specialty applications. They lack the visceral pleasure of a good 5lb sledge; but they can still deliver some serious fine-adjustment with none of that awkward marring that gets your RMA denied...

  • Re:Buy crap tools! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RatherBeAnonymous ( 1812866 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @12:09PM (#42130579)

    And a flashlight - there will always be that pesky hard to read text somewhere on a device that you can't read without the right light.

    I've taken to using my cell phone for this. No more holding the flashlight in my teeth why holding onto something sturdy with one hand and a pen and paper with the other while craning my neck and straining something. Now I just take a quick snapshot of serial numbers and read them off my phone.

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