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Real-world server room nightmares

Bill Detwiler asked TechRepublic members to send in photos of the worst server room messes they've encountered and they really came through.
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1 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
Do you think your server room is a mess? Check out these pictures and see if you still think so. Bill Detwiler asked TR members to submit their photos of nightmare server rooms they've encountered. TechRepublic editors picked our top three, but it was hard!
We've put the winners at the top, but see them in their proper sets, which follow, with more detail and explanation on just what you're seeing -- and in some cases, not seeing.
TR member Luca claims the glory with this lovely scene. (Go to Image 46 to view his set.)
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2 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet

It was a photo-finish with this horrendous hanging garden of cables and equipment from TR member Handyman. (Go to Image 51 for the set.)

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3 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
This landscape from TR member Tony B. won third for sheer weight and amount of spaghetti cabling! (Go to Image 54 for the set.)
Now feel free to choose your own winners and enjoy the rest. We think you'll get a kick out of them.
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4 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"We had an office in a remote location. No one from the IT group had been there for a site visit in almost 6 years (since the office was first brought online). Due to an extensive inventory we were running, it was necessary for someone to go, and I decided to do it myself.
An office with six users, 1 server, 1 router, 1 switch and 1 PBX, how bad could it be? As you can see, the answer to that question is "very"!! When a user asks, 'Why can't we just cable it ourselves,' feel welcome to pull this one out to show them!!
Credit: NotSoChiGuy
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5 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
Most of these pictures are messes that were inherited by admins. This is a "duct tape ramp" constructed by creative facilities personnel to direct the water from a dripping AC into a bucket in the server room.
Credit: leiby.mark
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6 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"You can't make this stuff up!
Credit: leiby.mark
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7 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"One of the companies I support on the side lost the A/C to their Server closet. The company is so cheap that they did not want to pay for weekend/Holiday emergency service to repair the A/C. The company is based in FL and this went down on July 4th weekend - you can only imagine how hot this room was.
They told me to "Cool it the best I can" so I went to all their offices and started gathering fans and placing them in the server room. You can see the 2 stand up fans one is on the floor cooling the bottom of the rack the other I had to pull out the KVM and put it on top of it to cool the top of the rack. Then I stacked some boxes on the floor including a LTO3 tape and pointed another fan at the Telco rack. I then turned the A/C down on the floor where the server room is located to 65 and set up fans all through the hallway and office to try and direct the A/C into the room.
I ended up taking all the doors and walls off the Rack in hopes it would cool down a bit more and then put the walls in the hallway to further direct the cold air. This actually did the trick, cooling the room to about 85. Still hot but it was at 104 when I got there. They ran their room like this for 4 days. I could not believe that nothing crashed and that everything worked fine. Beyond these issues as you can see the wiring in this place is a MESS!! I've offered numerous times to fix this and am always told no they don’t want to pay for it to look pretty. Wish I had a better photo of this but at the time I just took it as I thought it was priceless."
Credit: MWatson
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8 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
I've seen worse, but it's certainly not am aesthetically pleasing color scheme.
Credit: Culpe555
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9 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"A friend was invited to rearrange the server room. Having somehow managed to climb into the attic he found ..."
Credit: mata@bitsyu.net
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10 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"Here's a nice mess of spaghetti cables. We are in the process of replacing the core switch so this will all be gone shortly."
Credit: Rich in Iowa
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11 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
This is a "before" picture!
Credit: Robo_Dev
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12 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
This is what happens after years of adds and band-aid fixes. It took weeks of prep and planning to clean this up with a minimum impact on system availability.
Credit: Dand1436
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13 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
Hmmmmm...
Credit: Tommy B.
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14 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"This is our server room. We're a small company and we have only two IT people: me and my boss. It looks horrible, but it's not hard to work with. Sometimes I get to climb behind all those wires to patch new cables in - that's when it gets exciting."
Credit: stobek
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15 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
These are pictures of how our server?room looked when I was hired on as network engineer a little over 2 years ago. Everything in these pictures has since been fixed.
Credit: dragonfood
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16 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet

Credit: dragonfood
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17 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"I work as a business continuity consultant in the UK. Here are some selections, just to prove that we over here can do tacky installations along with the best of them! Please note: These are the BEFORE photos! Each one is worth at least a thousand words when presented to the head of IT."
Credit: Tim in the UK
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Credit: Tim in the UK
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Credit: Tim in the UK
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Credit: Tim in the UK
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Credit: Tim in the UK
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22 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"Here are a few pics of 1 of out closet switch rooms before and after. This is before the cleanup. Pretty much shows the nature of the beast. There are 5 switches in there.LOL!"
Credit: Andres in FL
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23 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet

Credit: Andres in FL
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24 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"Spaghetti or alfredo? We didn't know actually. Sometimes it seems to move by itself, like if it was alive!!! ROFL"
Credit: Andres in FL
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25 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet

Credit: Andres in FL
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26 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"This is after a full day of agony. I believe it looks pretty good. Now I can find/trace cables."
Credit: Andres in FL
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27 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"Pretty. Victory is MINE!!!!!"
Credit: Andres in FL
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28 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
I assume from the comment that this person was sight-seeing in someone else's server room: "These are supposed to be company phones and LAN and whatnot. Actually, only IT Office guys know. And to my surprise, they know! Wow on that. Well, Windows guys. Of course our racks (under Linux admin over-watch) are in order as one would expect."
Credit: Zdenek
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Credit: Zdenek
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Credit: Zdenek
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Credit: Zdenek
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32 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"I am the only IT person for a company of approximately 70 employees, 18 sales offices, 10 construction offices, and our main headquarters. We have 15 servers, about 50+ PCs, 2 websites, a vendor portal and an intranet. I do all networking, security, budgeting, planning, purchasing, training, etc."
Credit: Rick K.
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Credit: Rick K.
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34 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet

Credit: Rick K.
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35 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"These pictures were taken prior to a reorganization of our server room. I've provided an "after" picture to accentuate the difference between the before and after!"
Credit: Harold O.
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Credit: Harold O.
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Credit: Harold O.
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Credit: Mr. Anonymous
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Credit: Mr. Anonymous
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40 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"We were laughing when we saw the picture you posted in server room nightmare challenge. If that was a?nightmare, I don't know how to describe the server room when I joined this?company in 2007. From outside, looking in front of the racks, it may seem?normal (here), except for the fact that servers are fed to small UPS's, which nobody can trace without the risk of turning something off. But when you?look at the back, ohhh boooyyy..."
Credit: rlpasia
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41 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"The rack power cords are taped to the wall to prevent them from falling or getting uplugged when someone does something."
Credit: rlpasia
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42 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
More tape!
Credit: rlpasia
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43 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"Power cables and Ethernet cables are a real mess; one can describe truly as "it's a jungle out there."
Credit: rlpasia
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44 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"I really hope that nobody does this type of installation ever again."
Credit: rlpasia
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45 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"Cisco Router provided by ISP in second floor server room The main server room in in complete disarray. Wiring is totally untraceable and hanging without stress-relief. Servers have no heat ventilation and have things piled on top of them making it worse. Error lights on?equipment, need I say more..."
Credit: Luca
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Dear...God...
Credit: Luca
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Help, I'm being eaten!
Credit: Luca
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Credit: Luca
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Catching up on a little filing...
Credit: Luca
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Credit: Luca
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51 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"These photos show what greeted me the very first time I walked into the server room after agreeing to take things over.These are the servers. Note the KVM switch wiring and placement, the forgotten drink, and the fact that the servers are stacked on each other and have their hot air exhaust aimed at each other while that hot air is also being boxed in by the monitor.
In addition, this entire grouping of equipment was precariously balanced on a 5 foot long plastic table with folding legs. Wobbly to say the least. Please also note that while there is a dual 15 amp quad outlet mounted on the wall, he chose to plug all 5 servers and the monitor into a $3 non-surge-protected power strip running from one receptacle. No battery backup..."
Credit: Handyman
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52 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"This is the patch panel, modem, 48-port switch, firewall/router, and PBX telephone equipment. The modem is the black box hanging by its own cables (next to the phone hanging by ITS own cables). The wiring and patch cords were a complete mess, and half of them were unplugged and hanging loose. Absolutely NOTHING was labeled in this room, including all the cables and servers. In the upper left corner you can see the power injection unit/network interface module for the roof-mounted wireless bridge that connected the satellite office across the street to our main network."
Credit: Handyman
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53 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"This is just around the corner from the last photo. It's interesting to see that he DID have a backup battery on this side of the room, but here is what he had plugged in to that 750 VA UPS: (3) Panasonic PBX panels for the phone system and voicemail, (1) DSL modem, (1) 4 port firewall/router, (1) 48 port awitch, (1)"Music on hold" interface module, (1) PA paging module integrated with the phone system, (1) T1/PRI modem,(1) Wireless G bridge, (1) Building security alarm panel. Um, aside from the phone system, what point is there in having anything else in that list on UPS if the servers and computers don't have UPS devices?!"
Credit: Handyman
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54 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet

Credit: Tony B.
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Credit: Tony B.
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56 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"We're a group of 5 radio stations located in a single facility. The facility was built about 7 years ago and due to time constraints moving from the old location this happened..."
Credit: Tony B.
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57 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"I wasn't with the station during the move but I'm certainly guilty of my share of this mess...throwing a cable over the rack with the intention of going back labeling, cutting to length and running it through the wiring harnesses later only to get side tracked and forget all about it."
Credit: Tony B.
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58 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"We've worked on fixing this from time to time but it's slow going and other projects take priority."
Credit: Tony B.
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59 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"Sometimes the only way to trace an unlabeled cable is to pull until you find the other end."
Credit: Tony B.
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60 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"The pictures are of a data center in one of our remote facilities. These are classic examples of when non IT people are allowed to run wires. Many of the cables weren't even in use."
Credit: rhoffman
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61 of 61 Selena Frye/ZDNet
"Fixing it was a real challenge, but luckily a few years later, I was able to pull it all out and replace the excess wiring with proper length cables and a new switch."
Credit: rhoffman

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