back to article Data centres are warm and designed to move air very efficiently. Are they safe to visit during the pandemic?

Data centres are warm places full of fans designed to efficiently circulate air. Commercial data centres are visited by many people every day. Some of those people could be COVID-19 carriers. The virus doesn’t mind warmth and can be spread by airborne droplets that may well have a better chance of floating free in a well- …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "viruses don’t like the low humidity"

    And there's the fact that, yes, a datacenter creates a lot of heat, but that heat is evacuated outside and server rooms are constantly cooled. The start of the article makes it sound like all the hot air is being ventilated around the building, carrying viruses with it.

    Between the hot air being evacuated, the atmospheric control keeping humidity low and the constant cooling everywhere, I agree with the remark that a datacenter should be a pretty good place to work right now. Just keep that hand sanitizer ready and don't touch any doorknobs or door handles if you can avoid it.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: "viruses don’t like the low humidity"

      Between the hot air being evacuated, the atmospheric control keeping humidity low and the constant cooling everywhere,

      There's also knowledge gained from past nasties. So air conditioning condensers have been a source of Legionaire's disease before, which has lead to changes in design to reduce that risk. There's also features like filtration packs that reduce dust.. give or take the PFY who maintains those. And outside shared datacentres like Equinix's there is (or should be) a small number of people who have access.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:air conditioning condensers

        Are outside, and it was only water cooled ones, that by design were warm and wet and ideal for Legionaire's, it's the evaporator that's inside :)

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Re:air conditioning condensers

          Heh, I'm kinda rusty on high-end aircon. Must be something leaking. But on the filtration side, do HEPA filters get used, or is that OTT for a datacentre?

    2. Surreal

      Re: "viruses don’t like the low humidity"

      I'd expect the air filtration would make for a healthier environment, 'cept for the roaring white noise from all of the gear.

      I'm working from my garage in any case.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: "viruses don’t like the low humidity"

        also if there are electrostatic precipitator air filters or just plain ionizers it should help a LOT. High voltage electricity, etc.

        Seriously ANY place with this kind of filtration system should be good.

        (my home air filters are old and wearing/worn out - I should get some new ones)

        I was hearing earlier that warmer weather helps to kill of the viruses, and that LOW humidity is easier for them to live in. Conflicting information then...

  2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    WHO guidance... regularly disinfect work surfaces, keyboards and telephones

    An actual, valid reason for telephone sanitisers to exist...? What has the world come to!

    1. Chris G

      Re: WHO guidance... regularly disinfect work surfaces, keyboards and telephones

      Currently one of their duties ought to be 24Hr sanitation on ATMs, keyboard and screens.

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: WHO guidance... regularly disinfect work surfaces, keyboards and telephones

      tbh I clean anything that comes near me, because of how filthy people are.

      FFS if you are going to eat at your desk don't lean over the keyboard or mouse!

    3. loz

      Re: WHO guidance... regularly disinfect work surfaces, keyboards and telephones

      For the Golgafrinchans, ridding themselves of telephone sanitisers meant the end of their world.

  3. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    To do my part I will be hanging a sign in our server room:

    "To prevent the spread of disease, please refrain from licking the servers"

    That should sort it, right?

  4. Simon 49

    All the biometrics are annoying though

    Have to touch several hand scanners between the street and my cage - and while my cage one likely hasn't seen anyone for months, the mantrap ones must be a pool of lovely germs.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: All the biometrics are annoying though

      I prefer the RFID badges since you can put it in a pocket inside your briefcase, never touch the badge, never touch the reader, just hold your briefcase up to it with the badge-pocket nearest to the reader

      (when I have to work on site at a company that uses badges like that, anyway)

      yeah biometric entry systems become a vector for disease spread. who'd a thunk it?

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    So we're basically saying...

    "Your server room has a walrus"?

    Perhaps the walrus has the bucket in which all the bits are kept.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warmer the better

    If this latest coronavirus behaves similarly to the one that caused SARS back in 2003, then warm and moist are the safest conditions.

    "The dried virus on smooth surfaces retained its viability for over 5 days at temperatures of 22–25°C and relative humidity of 40–50%, that is, typical air-conditioned environments. However, virus viability was rapidly lost (>3 log10) at higher temperatures and higher relative humidity (e.g., 38°C, and relative humidity of >95%). The better stability of SARS coronavirus at low temperature and low humidity environment may facilitate its transmission in community in subtropical area (such as Hong Kong) during the spring and in air-conditioned environments. It may also explain why some Asian countries in tropical area (such as Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand) with high temperature and high relative humidity environment did not have major community outbreaks of SARS."

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Warmer the better

      yeah that's what I'e heard, too - warm and moist.

      server rooms, when air conditioned, tend to be cool and dry...

  7. A-nonCoward

    70% iso + 30% water? that's 49% alcohol, too low

    as per the Do not use Tito's Vodka as hand sanitizer

    “Per the CDC, hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol,” the response read. “Tito’s Handmade Vodka is 40% alcohol, and therefore does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC. Please see attached for more information.”

    The isopropyl alcohol here in my bathroom is already 70%. Dilute it with 30% water, you end up at less than 50% alcohol.

    Hear ye hear ye, If you are going to use iso to disinfect, you must use it as is, not watering it down.

    icon because, you know, Dell must do 200 lines, I will not add water to alcohol

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: 70% iso + 30% water? that's 49% alcohol, too low

      No, it means a solution of 70% iso / 30% water, no matter how you achieve that. It is possible to buy 99% iso / 1% water(1), but that is *less* effective as a disinfectant, above all as an anti-bacterial agent, and must be diluted to 70/30.

      (1) it's a useful solvent for some sorts of art.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: 70% iso + 30% water? that's 49% alcohol, too low

      the drinking alcohol is NOT for your hands... you're supposed to DRINK it, so that the alcohol in your LUNGS is an "uncomfortable environment" for the bugs to grow in!!!

  8. AlexGreyhead


    * Total Inability To Stop Usual Pandemic.

    Sorry; I'll get me coat...

  9. NeilPost Silver badge

    Bleach and Water... really

    I can’t believe you mention cleaning rack-mounted keyboards/drawers and then go on go mention weak bleach solutions in water in the next breath.

    More D’oh stories of blown kit.

    Unless you have some desperately crummy old kit most stuff should be remote management to the bare tin and not need much KVM action.

  10. mistersaxon

    Docklands DC not in a novel coronavirus area apparently

    Or at least no evidence of thermometers being deployed yesterday. I was surprised, TBH.

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