Jul 30

In this age of hackers, rogue web sites and malware, one of the most overlooked sources of expensive workstation and server downtime is also one of the easiest and cheapest to prevent: biological interlopers.







And, no, this is NOT a JOKE!  One of the worst server crashes I ever experienced happened because a spider built a nest inside of a nice, warm server case.  After several weeks, the webbing got so thick that it caked the heat-dissipation fins on top of the Xeon processors.  Fortunately, the mainboard had protection circuitry in it so it shut itself down before anything could be permanently damaged.  Once the area was cleaned out and allowed to cool down, it resumed working without any expensive repairs.


On another occasion a large workgroup printer froze up at the beginning of the days' batch printing jobs after it emitted a high-pitched split-second screech.  The noise was actually the death-shriek of a tiny field mouse that was instantly barbecued when it was awakened by the printer's high-voltage fuser unit – over which it was napping – surging to life for the start of the day.  The mouse dropped onto the paper and was pulled between the pinch rollers, where it squished everything to a halt.  Happily again (except for the hapless repair tech who cleaned up the mess), everything worked fine, once it was all cleaned up.


In each of these instances – as well as many, many others like them – a simple preventative solution that has been around since before my grandmother's time would have staved off the unwelcome (and, in the case of the printer, gruesome) equipment stoppages: moth balls.  Yep!  Smelly little items that are usually associated with old luggage or your great-granddad's sock drawer.  Spiders hate them.  Mice loathe them.  One strategically placed mothball right behind a server's chassis will keep it clear of cobwebs for a long, long time.  Slipping one in the back unused corner of the printer paper tray (a small piece of tape can hold it in place), will keep unwittingly suicidal little mammals from ruining your morning doughnut and coffee wind-up.  And they are cheaper by the dozen: just ask Grandma – or your local drug store.

May 08
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