Server Rails – Questions Answered


Over the years, we’ve answered frequent questions on server rails. You would think that it would be a pretty straightforward topic, and, in the world of tech, metal fixtures that help you mount your server into a rack would be the simplest, least error-prone variable out there.  Wrong! 

Server rail compatibility can actually be quite nuanced, and we’ve seen, firsthand, customers suffer.  Nothing is more frustrating than having a rack server not fit in its rack because the rails are incompatible. 

Two quick rules to live by when it comes to server rails:

  • They are NOT standardized or interchangeable between manufacturers (in other words, Dell rails will not fit in an HPE server).
  • Even with the same manufacturer, rails are not interchangeable between server models – even with servers of the same Rack Unit (1U, 2U, etc.) designation! 

Without further ado, here are a couple of interesting customer questions we’ve received on rails. 

RESOURCES!  ALWAYS! You can also check out our quick primer on server rails here.

Hi Mike.  I’m looking at the selection of rails on your site.  I’m a little confused about what kind of rails I need.  My server rack has threaded, round holes, but it looks like the rail kits on your site are designed for square hole racks.  Will they work?  

We’re glad you checked first, as the majority of rail kits in the market are designed for non-threaded, square hole racks.  If your rack has threaded holes, square-hole rails will not work.  Because most racks take the square-holed variation, we seldomly stock threaded round-hole compatible rails. 

Hey Mike.  I’m thinking about getting an HP DL380P G8 for a HomeLab.  I have a rack cabinet of about 25U…  but it’s quite shallow, only about 20 inches deep (I think it was designed primarily for network equipment).  The good news is the cabinet opens in the rear and the front, so some overhang is a possibility.  Would DL380 G8 rails work in this rack?  Is there a minimum rack depth for these rails?

If this was a Dell server, we would recommend static rails since they offer more flexibility for installation (having more mounting points). As far as we know, HPE servers only come with sliding rail kits which are less forgiving when installed in smaller network racks.
If it’s only one server you’re looking to mount, we might suggest a single rack shelf or even a 2U rack-to-tower stand.

Mike.  Do you sell or know of any lubricants specifically designed for sliding rails to reduce push/pull force? 

Generally, sliding rails that utilize ball-bearings or rollers to allow the server to slide out of its rack for maintenance should not require a significant amount of lubrication (ideally, no added lubrication at all).  The reason is servers should be kept in controlled environments free of moisture and excessive dust, and this setting is conducive to sliding rail mechanisms working optimally.

That said, if sliding rails have been exposed to dirt, dust or aren’t gliding as effortlessly as they should, we recommend a Teflon Non-Stick Dry-Film Lubricant over WD-40.  WD-40 can get gummy and greasy over time; Teflon-based lubricants are more dirt resistant. 

Hi.  I am looking for some rails for an R610 and wondered if you knew if the R510 rails you have on your site would also work for the R610. I purchased a set of rails a while back that said on an online forum that they worked with several R10 models, including the 610, but when I installed them, the 610 did not sit right in it.

Unfortunately, there is no cross-compatibility between the R610 and R510 rails.  This is a frustrating nuance of server rails – Dell did not manufacture rails to be universal between similar-sized servers of the same generation.  Sorry! 

Have a rail question?  What are you waiting for?!  Leave it in the comments or email us at info@techmikeny.com.  We’ll answer it in the comments and include it in our blog's next round of rail questions!

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