Underwater Computing

August 10, 2018

I decided to start a new category – Friday Funny! My goal is every Friday to post something related to tech that is humorous (at least to me). To start off this new addition to the blog, I give you – Underwater Computing!

A ways back, maybe in 2005, I was working for a small VAR. We took care of SMBs in Ohio, and were really hands on. Each engineer had dedicated clients, and we did everything for them, instead of specializing across all clients. Because of this, most clients had our cell numbers. (I don’t even think I had a smartphone at that time!)

The Scene:

It was a dark and stormy night… No, really, it was! We just had a massive storm come through, and being in a flat area, in a city known for flooding, we had some water issues. The next morning, early, my cell phone rings. Customer calls to inform me that their basement is flooded. Now, you may be asking, why should I care? Well, because their 3 servers are in a “server room” in the basement, sitting on the second shelf of a shelving unit. Oh noes!

The actual town!

The Danger Zone:

When I arrived, Customer met me at the door, and we started down the basement steps. The water was close to waist deep! I took off my socks and shoes and proceeded to wade in the water. As I wandered across the basement to the “server room” door, I realized that I could still hear equipment running. Sure enough, when I open the door, 2 servers are running! That’s right, still powered on, fans moving water across the motherboards and CPUs, churning away. They were plugged into UPS’s, which were out of the water, which were in turn plugged into the wall in an outlet above water level as well. The first thing that ran through my head was – water and electricity don’t like each other! I hopped up on the shelves (since I was barefoot in water with equipment) and then unplugged everything.

http://runknown.com/underwater-museum-in-the-tver-quarry

The Shock:

I gathered 2 of the 3 servers (the 3rd was old and didn’t matter) and took them back to the

Woohoo!

shop. These were 2 HP ML350 G2 or G3 servers if I recall correctly. I proceeded to take everything out and placed fans around. I took the circuit boards off each drive to assist in the drying process. (Not that I was expecting them to live). After a day of air, I brought out the rubbing alcohol and cleaned each circuit board, including the motherboard. Finally, after everything was dry, I put the drives back together. With low expectations, I placed the drives into another HP server we had, and OMG everything was there. Each of the 5 drives in the raid was online and the volume mounted!

 

In the end, no data was lost. New servers were ordered and installed, and data moved over. Sure, we could have used tape backups to recover, but why if I had the drives? Since Insurance didn’t want the water-cooled servers, we kept them at the shop, and the servers and drives continued to operate without issue for the next 5 years!

Now, I’m not too vendor biased, but if anyone asks about what servers can run underwater, I think I’m going to have to answer honestly!

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