How to ship your server to a data center

Once you’ve made the decision to use server colocation for your company’s data center, you may soon find out that making this decision was the easy part. Now, you have to ship your sever to the data center, and this process is full of potential problems. Fortunately, if you are careful and follow a couple of key rules, there’s no reason you can’t safely ship your server to the data center while avoiding all potential problems.

Five rules for safely shipping servers to a server colocation data center:

  • Rule 1: Always back up server data before beginning a shipment
  • Rule 2: Work with an experienced shipping professional
  • Rule 3: Check all your server equipment for damage as soon as it reaches the data center
  • Rule 4: Take it slow and steady during the server reinstallation
  • Rule 5: Test your server after reinstalling it

Rule 1: Always back up server data before beginning a shipment

Your company’s data is valuable, and leaving it on a server during shipment without backing it up first puts it at unnecessary risk. Finding a backup server or cloud storage service to back up your server data should always be the first thing you do when preparing a server for shipment. Today’s data backup solutions are cheaper and easier to use than ever before, so your company really should be backing up its server data anyway. If something does go wrong when the server is in transit, you’ll feel better knowing that your existing data is stored in a secure location.

Rule 2: Work with an experienced shipping professional

Before they are shipped, your servers should be covered with anti-static envelopes, bubble wrap, and foam-cushioned hard cases that are designed specifically for your equipment. Working with a shipping professional who has specific experience with shipping servers will help you make sure your servers are adequately protected before they ever leave your premises. You should also be sure to select a shipper who has insurance that will cover your server in the event it is damaged during shipment.

When your shipper arrives to begin packaging up your servers, you will want to be there to keep a thorough photographical record of the cables as they are removed from your server. You will need this record in order to properly set your server back up once it reaches the data center. You should also ensure that the shipper removes server components from the server rack before it leaves for the data center, as they could damage the rack if they are left in place during the journey.

Rule 3: Check all your server equipment for damage as soon as it reaches the data center

Once your server reaches the data center, the very first thing you should do is check it against the photographical records you made during the breakdown process. It’s important that you determine now if any physical damage occurred during the shipping process. If you wait until later to check for damage, it will be your word against the shipper’s as to when the damage occurred.

Rule 4: Take it slow and steady during the server reinstallation

Shipping a server may not be many people’s idea of a good time, but it’s important that you not rush through the reinstallation once you arrive at the server colocation data center. You may feel like shipping the server was the hard part, but in reality, setting the server up again once it reaches the server colocation center may end up being the most time-consuming part of the entire process.

This means you’ll need to make a conservative estimate of how much time it will take to set the server back up once you reach the data center. One rule of thumb from Server Fault says to take the most realistic estimate you can come up with for how long the process will take, and then double it. This will allow you to account for any unforeseen difficulties you may experience along the way.

Rule 5: Test your server after reinstalling it

The server shipment process can’t be considered complete until you’ve run some tests to ensure that it is up and running just the way it was before it left your premises. It may take a little extra time to perform the tests now, but it will save you from having to come back and fix problems later.

If you follow these five simple rules, shipping a server to a data center becomes much simpler—and less risky. Being extra careful now will ensure that your server shipment process will be the start of a long and beneficial relationship with your server colocation data center provider.

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