WATCH: TechMike Shows You How to Clean Your Server




The heavy accumulation of dust can severely impact the performance of your server by forcing the fans to work harder to cool the system and allowing pieces of dirt to get between connectors. 

In this video, we’ll show you step-by-step how to clean a server’s components.  The server we are cleaning is a Dell R620, but the principles are the same for virtually any server.

You’ll need a can of compressed air, a spray bottle with a 1:1 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and distilled water, a hand-held vac, and a small microfiber towel. 

Ensure the server is completely unplugged and disconnected from any power supplies or peripherals and follow standard safety precautions when working with electronics.

Our tech first removes all of the fans and blows compressed air into each one, both front and back.  Be sure to do this away from the server, so the dust doesn’t blow back into the device.

Next, we clean the Power Supply Units.  If the machine has been in service for a while, the PSUs may stick, and you need to jiggle them out.

Blow compressed air into both the units and into the PSU bays. You want to blow into every nook and cranny of the device.  

Next, we remove the RAM slots.  Make sure to keep track of what module goes in what slot.  

Be sure to blow in-between the RAM slots.  Dirt between the connector and RAM module and impact performance. 

For hard drives, make sure to blow from both directions – towards the caddies and then behind the backplane.

When reinstalling the RAM, be sure to put the modules back into the correct slot.

For a Bonus Round cleaning, we’ll now remove the heat sinks, clean the processors, and apply fresh thermal paste to the IHS, or Integrated Heat Sink.    

Very, VERY carefully clean the underside of the processor.  If even a single microprocessor is damaged, the entire processor is ruined.

Apply a pea-sized amount of thermal paste in the center of the processor.  However, first ensure that the processor is dry from any cleaning solutions that were applied. 

When reinstalling the fans, you do not need to mind the previous order as the fans are interchangeable between the slots.

For more resources, check out our blog post on Hot Tips for Keeping Your Server Cool and Efficient Tips for Minimizing Your Server's Electricity Bill


  • That’s a good question below, Clyde, and great food for thought. We think it’s pretty safe for a couple of reasons. Server fans are capable of running extremely fast, usually around 10,000 RPM. We don’t think the air from the canister is causing them to blow much faster than that. Also, what seems to be most effective is not a direct shot on the fan but instead blowing around the corners and seams of the fan chassis – that’s where most of the dust has accumulated (P.S., for really dirty fan blades, you can also use a Q-Tip). As for the fans turning in a different direction from what they usually do, that shouldn’t cause any structural damage to the fan since they are mechanically capable of spinning in either direction. Thanks again for the query! Good stuff!

  • Hi.
    I wonder about any detrimental effects of high velocity compressed air spinning the fans faster than they were designed to go and perhaps in a reverse direction.

  • Really nice video. My servers are in a dusty basement setting so unfortunately they need regular cleaning. This video was very helpful in pointing out all the things that need to be done to properly clean them out. Thanks for putting this out there.

  • Hi Richard. Thanks for the comment below. The blower is an electronic compressed air duster. You can use any compressed air canister; we use the rechargeable electronic ones in our warehouse due to the volume of prepping and cleaning our techs perform. As for the rectangular vac, you can use any handheld vac with a slim nozzle, like a Dustbuster. The idea is to capture dust in hard-to-reach places and dust blown into the air, so it doesn’t settle back into the machine. Hope that helps!

  • what is that blower 1000 thing? thanks for the guide

    Richard M Brown

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