“This Server we bought… um, it’s DOA.”
Nobody ever likes that call, So what do you do next?
Keep the following in mind before proceeding: You’re not a server tech, so tread lightly here. However, you can solve some issues before calling a tech, or at least collect some good info to help them out. Finally, stay relaxed (with a sense of urgency).
Step 1: Reseat and Reboot (80% sucess rate!)
Open up your server (power off), re-seat the memory, drives, CPUs and any other potentially loose components. Reboot. At this point, it’s likely that you’re back in business. Honestly, this solves at least 80% of the calls that we get when the system won’t boot right out of the box. We test everything before we ship, so loose components, due to vibration from transport, are usually the culprit.
Just last week we shipped a used Sun server to Florida via freight carrier and I received this call. I asked the client to reseat the memory and it worked like a charm. We pack everything with extreme care, but you can’t avoid the vibration of the big rigs that haul our servers across the nation.
Step 2: Collect Information (need input)
Get ready to write down as many details as you can. You don’t want to ask the client twice; she needs to install this server by 2PM, Eastern Time. Its’ likely the client will give you the relevant error issues, but here are some helpful details to gather:
- Error Log: Can the client get past boot to the point where they can print off or email an error log? This is gold for a qualified technician as troubleshooting material.
- Display option: Is there any display at all? If so, is the client using a graphics card and monitor or the serial port and a terminal? Some older servers also require a keyboard and mouse to be connected, so you might want to ask if they’re using these, too.
- Sequences: Are there any flash sequences or irregular patterns showing on the keyboard LED or on the server’s start button?
- Lights: This is obvious, but green is good and red or orange is usually bad.
- Additions: Anything recently added to the server before it failed?
Step 3a: Call an Engineer or tech support (smart move)
These guys are good. They’ll be happy you gathered some info ahead of time, too. Even if you did spell it “scuzzy” instead of SCSI.
Step 3b: Go for it! (good luck sucka)
If this were a Choose Your Own Adventure book, your most likely outcome would be an unfortunate encounter with either a rogue asteroid or a mutant tiger. Here are three real dangers to be wary of:
- Static: Static electricity can zap your components, so please use an anti-static wrist strap and do your best to find a static-free workplace. Stay off of carpeting!
- Electrocution: Servers use electricity. Please unplug it before you do anything.
- Your Brute Strength: If a case isn’t opening, you probably missed a screw.
Okay, so if you have absolutely no other option, and this isn’t for a client, read on…
Step 4: Internet (lol)
Remember all of that information you collected in step 2? It’s time to put those clues to use. Even real techs use transactive memory systems such as online forums, to ask about and find information and fixes on system errors.
These forums are usually searchable on Google, so I would start there. Include the model type and error that you’re seeing. Search for something like “keyboard flashes on HP Proliant DL380 error,” if that’s the type of information you’ve gathered. Just remember that you’re in the realm of the internet and the Two-Striped Telamonia, so take any advice with a grain of salt.
added: If you can get past boot and view the firmware and BIOS, look online to make sure that you have all of the latest versions and updates.
Any other tips out there from real techies or savvy sales people?
Disclaimer: I take no liability for any further damage to a server, voided warranties or personal injury which you may incur due to self-troubleshooting. (I warned you about that mutant tiger.)