Maintaining Old Servers

Everything you want to know about using and maintaining your existing used servers

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Your servers are installed, up and running, and you want to keep them that way for years to come and feel fully supported along the way! Along with in-house upkeep your hardware, you can make sure that the used server is backed with an extended warranty or maintenance plan.

If you purchase equipment from a reliable reseller, like Alta Technologies, your used server will likely be equipped with a warranty at the time of purchase. Extended maintenance plans are also available from most refurb resellers and ITADS directly as well as from independent TPMs (Third Party Maintenance) companies. The manufacturers themselves also offer global and direct maintenance coverage for used hardware.

How do you maintain a used server?

You maintain a used server either by having an internal plan in place or hiring an outside maintenance company or TPM to perform your IT equipment maintenance, or some hybrid solution between these options.

Regular maintenance will help keep your used server running and even increase its lifespan, which is crucial for hitting sustainability and cost usage goals. To keep up to date on maintenance, it helps to make a routine checklist that you or the maintenance company checks on regularly. This will help you catch any small issues before they turn into something bigger!

Here are some things to add to your server maintenance checklist: 

  1. Review the server’s performance regularly
  2. Ensure automated systems are installed
  3. Look out for security risks
  4. Check network utilization
  5. Check disk usage and hardware errors
  6. Change passwords
  7. Update your control panel
  8. Backup data regularly

In addition, there are multiple third-party maintenance (TPM) providers who do a fantastic job supporting IT managers and companies remotely in these tasks. While an OEM can also provide extended maintenance plans to support you, a TPM can often cover more devices in your environment, at greater savings. TPMs are also likely to be readily available at most times of the day with solutions in a matter of minutes.

What is the warranty or guarantee of used servers?

If you buy from an experienced reseller, many times they will offer a prepackaged warranty, but keep in mind that it might vary between each reseller. Some might offer a 30 or 90-day warranty, whereas others may offer a one year warranty or more. Used IT equipment is typically eligible for your existing maintenance plans, meaning warranties beyond a certain period are a moot point.

Here are a few things to ask the seller: 

  1. Do you have 24/7 technical support?
  2. What’s all covered in your standard warranty?
  3. Is my equipment eligible for the OEM’s maintenance plan.
  4. Do you offer an extended warranty?

These questions are a good starting point when choosing where to buy a used server from. If you are interested in learning more about purchasing used servers and the process behind that, check out our article on buying used servers!

Who is responsible for maintenance on used servers?

When you buy a used server, be sure to ask the seller if they offer a maintenance plan. Having a maintenance plan in place will ensure that your used server will be taken care of if any problems come up. If the seller doesn’t offer a warranty and/or maintenance plan, you can also reach out to a third-party maintenance provider.

What type of software will be running on used servers?

Used servers are purchased with the aim of running and operating many different types of software applications and uses. Some types of software that can run on used servers include website hosting platforms, web applications, mail servers, data storage, or other back-end functionality. Most servers do not come with software installed, whether new or used, but that software is installed upon receipt by the end-user customer or integrator.

How do I know if my used server is bad?

If the used server boots and operates correctly, it most likely is not bad. Servers are built to last for decades, and by default are not in a state of failure. Rather, most of the systems on the secondary market come out of supported, working environments in great condition, ready for a new home.

Unless you’re experiencing blinking lights or frequent sounds signaling that something is going wrong, your system is in good condition.

You can begin to determine whether your used server is in good working order, and not bad, by considering the following troubleshooting steps:

  1. Are all cables securely plugged in?
  2. Are all the lights working?
  3. Are the fans running normally?
  4. Is there a loud noise coming from the server?
  5. Is it booted up properly? If not, there could be an issue with the server.
  6. Have you performed CPU stress tests? This will help you identify any performance issues.

These questions are also good to include in your initial inspection of any used server you are considering to purchase. Before purchasing your server, make sure to conduct thorough research and have a checklist ready of things to look for; this will give you a better chance of ruling out bad servers from the start.

Long-time established resellers of used servers always include a test report with your server delivery, assuring you that the system has been fully vetted and tested.

What causes used server failure?

Most server failures happen within the first 90 days of delivery, new, but used servers can occasionally fail as well. These instances are rare, just like they are for new servers that have been running for over 90 days, but they can happen. Reasons range from poor maintenance, and lower quality components, to the physical environment the server lives in such as heat or dust - these all play a vital role in the livelihood of a new or used server.

It is important to note that used servers are no more likely to fail than a newly manufactured server, sometimes they will have even less of a failure rate; this is because the most common point of failure for a new server is typically within the first 90 days of use. While used servers, acquired from reliable sources, have surpassed that initial 90-day burn-in, proven to work in a data center, and then undergone additional testing by the reseller.

Used server failure may not even be hardware-related, but caused by a software issue, user error, overheating in the data center, or other external factors. The components that most often fail on new or used servers are batteries that have a limited lifespan, yet can easily be replaced. Power supplies are also a common point of failure, and electrical issues can lead to system board issues or other problems. This is where a long-standing reseller comes in and quickly can provide replacement parts to your current system - which helps get you back up and running in record time.

Summary: Choosing a reputable reseller or TPM will help reduce maintenance issues and failures down the road. These companies will help maintain your gear in top performance, and of course, for the most unforeseen circumstances, they can also get you back up and running in no time. Buy leveraging used systems and replacement parts stock, you’ll be more sustainable, enjoy savings over new, all while keeping your systems supported and resilient.

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Author: Corey Donovan

Corey is a reuse advocate with 20 years experience in ITAD and serves as President of Alta Technologies, the gold standard for quality in testing and refurbishing servers, networking and data storage hardware, since 1995.

An active member of the Right-To-Repair movement, Corey also serves on the ASCDI Board, is a member of the Forbes Business Council, Vistage, SIA and UNEDA. He enjoys local adventures with his family and dog, Freya, near Minneapolis, MN.

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