Often people do not take into consideration outside factors when buying a new computer or new technology. While these external variables might not be as critical as the actual machine hardware specifications – it is still important. Traditionally, these other factors are directly related to environment. More specifically power, temperature, and debris. So when buying a new computer you will want to keep the following in mind to hopefully prevent hardware failures in the future.
There are many power events that can cause your brand new computer to be a very expensive paper-weight. The most notable and the most familiar are power surges. This occurs when there is a spike in the electrical current. They are normally very brief, usually lasting less than a thousandth of a second, but it can still cause damage to your appliances – in this case, your computer. Another, less familiar, power event is undervoltage. Undervoltage is defined as a condition where the applied voltage drops to 90% of rated voltage, or less, for at least 1 minute. So while you may not, by definition, have an undervoltage issue (since they rarely persist for more than a few seconds.) your computer may likely get damaged as they are more sensitive to electricity related abnormalities. Often, we see undervoltage events impact computer hardware more severely than a power surge. The solution to this common problem is a UPS unit or Uninterruptable Power Supply. These are like surge protectors but better. Surge protectors only protect against surges and do not protect against other power related events. This is why we sell every new machine with a UPS since it provides protection against undervoltage, power surges, and it will also provide enough emergency battery power to the workstation to shut it down safely. There is actually a software integration between the UPS unit and the computer so that if the power goes out the UPS unit will safely shutdown the workstation. Spending the money up-front for a UPS unit with a computer will save you money and time in the future as power related issues are extremely difficult to diagnose and to troubleshoot.
The second most impactful environmental factor for computer hardware is the room temperature. Computers will generate heat when operating. This thermal radiation is a byproduct of the electromagnetic movement created from millions of circuits within the computer. It’s the way they work, just like using a laptop your lap will start to get warm. As temperatures increase the efficiency of the workstation is reduced and the likelihood of hardware failures is increased. This is why most server rooms are strictly regulated and maintained colder than the rest of your office. It’s because the server infrastructure runs better, performs better, and is less prone to failure in a cooler environment. The computer temperature is also affected by the airflow not only the ambient temperature. Most computers are placed under desks or tucked away as far as possible to be less of an obstruction but these locations also tend have poor airflow already. This gets compounded by possible vents being blocked on the computer. When the vents are blocked the fans cannot bring in fresh cold air to cool the internal components which cause the temperature to rise and the efficiencies to fall. So basically, if your computer case has a fan it shouldn’t be right against a wall or the side of a desk.
image source: thedailywaster.com
Lastly, debris and dirt can cause performance and longevity issues with your new computer. Lets face it – there is always going to be dust accumulation, and the normal wear and tear of being in production but this build-up of debris will also prevent the computer from its optimal performance. This also has a tendency to clog or suffocate the air flow systems as dust accumulates on the fans, in the case, and everywhere else. The solution would be to clean out your computer once a year or have a technician perform this task for you. If you plan on installing a new computer in an environment with lots of dust or debris (e.g. a shop floor) you may want to consider getting a dust bag for around the computer or a special cabinet that prevents dust and debris build-up depending on how critical this computer is to your company.
If you need help purchasing a new computer, planning the installation, or just want to talk about your options then give us a call or to learn more about Managed IT Services download our Beginner’s Guide