Vacuuming is hazardous to your server’s health

May 19, 2011

Monday. Not a work day for me, so vacuuming was on my agenda. The last room to vacuum is my office. Finished, and pushed my husband’s chair back into the area under his desk, which happens to be between his computer and the server.

But… I knocked the chair against the server cradle. And probably pushed the cradle back against the wall. When I turned off the vacuum cleaner, the server’s fan(s) were making a really loud noise. I turned on the monitor and tried to log in, but the server was in the process of stopping services.

When it shut down, I noticed a red light on the front of it (HP Proliant Server), which is never lit. I rebooted the server, but it only got as far as the initial hardware checks when came up with a message about the fan not being detected and shutdown again within a few seconds. The fan was still really noisy.

On the advice of my PC Guru guys, I called HP as I have a contract with them. The helpful guys at HP (after a LONG time on hold), asked me to remove the case cover and find the connection from the rear fan to the system (mother) board. Once I’d found that I was to pull it out completely, then reseat it.

I did that, gave the inside of the server a bit of a clean too to get rid of the excess dust, then put it all back together and turned it on.

No errors, no loud fan, and this time it booted into Windows Small Business Server without error. PC Guru called me within a couple of minutes to say they could see the server was back online, so it was all good!

So, in case you ever give your server a knock and it gets a fan error and won’t reboot, try reseating the fan connection to the motherboard. It worked for me.

Update 23 October 2011: The server fan went loud again last night after husband thumped desk to kill a small spider (the server is suspended underneath his side of the desk). The server still worked and there was no red light this time. I restarted the server and it booted up fine (no fan errors), but the fan was still really loud. So at 6 AM this morning, I had that beast benched and was cleaning the dust and debris that accumulates. I then I reseated that cable hoping that the previous solution would work this time. Happy day! All is OK again.


  1. Hmmm, I wonder if the same is true for HP laptops. I’ll crack open my moribund laptop as soon as I get back home. It’s fan was making horrible noises before all went black.

  2. It’s worth a try, Simon, as long as you don’t void warranty. Laptops take more knocks than the average PC I guess!


  3. […] I saw this at the bottom of an online survey that HP asked me to take after I’d had the server fan issue: […]

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