Monitoring the environmental state of a server room or data center is often one of the most overlooked but essential practices to ensure system uptime.
A Forrester Survey report called “The State of IT Resiliency and Preparedness,” showed that the top five leading causes for downtime are power outages, Hardware/Software/Network failures, human error, hurricanes, and floods. The same report revealed that downtime hurts the most critical areas in a business. It can hurt productivity, loss of opportunities, the employee’s morale, and a big loss in transactional revenue.
In the following Server Room Environmental Monitoring Tools & Software article, we will take a closer look into the most popular tools to monitor internal components and external environmental factors in a server room.
Why is Important to Monitor The Server Room?
A handful of blade servers can produce large amounts of heat, which can affect the overall temperature of the server room. It is essential to keep track of their temperature. A simple failure in a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning System (HVAC) or voltage systems can lead to a disaster in a data center.
Unfortunately, the temperature is not the only environmental factor that can impact servers in a data center. Other conditions such as humidity, water leaks, smoke, lack of airflow, peaks/drops in voltage, and theft can also impact the server room.
The Conditions That Could Affect a Server Room
How can temperature and humidity impact the server room?
- When the temperature is too high, it can damage servers. Overheating can lead to permanent damage.
- Although low temperature should be pursued to maintain server’s uptime, it can get costly in terms of energy consumption. Rapid changes in temperature (from hot to cold, or vice-versa) should also be avoided because they can cause condensation. Extreme cold can also lead to dry air, which leads to static electricity.
- When the humidity is too high, it can lead to water condensation, which creates hardware corrosion and failure in electronic components.
- When the humidity is too low, it can cause electrostatic discharge (ESD), which may damage sensitive electronic components.
Without a doubt, water leaks are also one of the leading causes of downtime. They can be caused by weather intrusion, cracked pipes, or clogged drain or drain pan from HVAC systems. Peaks or drops in voltage can also disrupt equipment and create power outages. It is critical to monitor power to avoid outages, failure, and over-consumption.
Maintaining the recommended environmental levels such as temperature, humidity, power, and avoiding water leaks at all costs within the data center can ensure overall reliability and uptime.
Server rooms can be monitored through internal or external sensors. An internal sensor, monitors component within a single device, it could be its fan speed, temperature, voltage, etc. Almost all computers and processors come with an integrated internal sensor which helps collect information.
External sensors, on the other hand, collect information from the server room environment. They can be located on the cabinets, rack-mounts, and their job is to keep an eye on the entire room. External sensors range from smoke detectors, thermal and humidity sensors, airflow, water leakage, etc.
Some of the following tools and software showed next can monitor single devices with internal sensors, while others can monitor entire rooms through external sensing.
Best Server Room Environmental Monitoring Tools & Software:
- SolarWinds Server Hardware Monitoring Software
- PRTG Server Monitoring
- ManageEngine OpManager
- IT WatchDogs
SolarWinds creates comprehensive and state-of-the-art IT management and monitoring software.
Among their software, their Server & Application Monitor allows you to keep track of every aspect of a server. The software can monitor applications, operating systems, and infrastructure in a data center or in the cloud.
With the Server & Application Monitor, you can quickly identify performance issues caused by failures in the hardware. The software can keep track of the temperature, fan speed, voltage peaks/drops in the hardware components of different servers.
With the SolarWinds software, you can monitor the health of hardware and set baseline values for the components. When a particular value falls below operational limits, the software will send an alert. The Server & Application Monitor can also be used to optimize hardware resources over-utilization or under-utilization.
- Designed with large and enterprise networks in mind
- Supports auto-discovery that builds network topology maps and inventory lists in real-time based on devices that enter the network
- Alerting features balance effectiveness with ease of use
- Supports both SNMP monitoring as well as packet analysis, giving you more control over monitoring than similar tools
- Uses drag and drop widgets to customize the look and feel of the dashboard
- Robust reporting system with pre-configured compliance templates
- Designed for IT professionals, not the best option for non-technical users
Price: Free 30-ay Trial Download Below!
Download: 30-days free SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor fully-functional trial.
Related Post: Best Hardware Monitoring Tools
2. PRTG Server Monitoring
PRTG Network Monitor is a comprehensive IT infrastructure monitoring tool. With PRTG you can keep track of any component, from systems, operating systems, applications, databases, network, traffic, wireless, storage, virtual, hardware, security, cloud, IoT, and a lot more. The software can monitor the IT infrastructure located on-premises or in the cloud.
PRTG uses its sensors to monitor all of these components from a single platform. The sensors are the monitoring elements which are capable of measuring one value in the entire network or an individual part and send back the data. With PRTG sensors, you can monitor temperature variations, humidity, and power outages from server room hardware and get automatic alerts.
Additionally, sensors can also let you monitor other hardware aspects in the network, such as:
- HVAC systems.
- Humidity and Temperature in the environment.
- Power supply systems.
- Smoke detectors
- Fire alarms.
- Open gates and movement sensors.
- Uses a combination of packet sniffing, WMI, and SNMP to report network performance as well as discover new devices
- Autodiscovery reflects the latest inventory changes almost instantaneously
- Drag and drop editor makes it easy to build custom views and reports
- Supports a wide range of alert mediums such as SMS, email, and third-party integration
- Supports a freeware version
- Is a very comprehensive platform with many features and moving parts that require time to learn
- Custom sensors can sometimes be challenging to manually configure
Price: You can get the PRTG Network Monitor through different pricing packages. Each license is based on the number of sensors and server installations. For example, PRTG500 allows 500 sensors and one server installation for $1,360. The price includes 12-month maintenance and is a one-time payment.
Download: A fully-functional 30-days free trial of PRTG Network Monitor.
Nagios develops systems, network and IT infrastructure monitoring software. It comes in two different product versions, the Nagios Core and Nagios XI. The Nagios Core is free and open-source monitoring software.
The Nagios Core is free and open-source monitoring software. It is maintained by the community, can be challenging to implement, but can be extended through a variety of plugins. Nagios XI is the paid professional version. It is rich in features, has an amazing UI, and is easy to implement.
Both tools come with internal sensors that allow monitoring of a server’s hardware components such as temperature, disk usage, fan speed, etc. They can send alerts when a certain threshold is about to be reached before a disaster happens.
With Nagios Core’s third-party plugins, you can also benefit from the community and monitor certain environmental factors. An example is the temperature and humidity sensors, which is a third-party plugin (+sensors) that allows you to collect data from any location, keep track of it, and send alerts.
Nagios XI can also be configured to take temperature data from a Raspberry Pi (external sensor) and chart and send alerts.
- Simple, yet informative interface
- Flexible alerting options support SMS and email
- A wide range of community-designed plugins are available for free
- Can monitor a variety of environments through simple deployments
- The open-source version lacks the support found in paid products
4. ManageEngine OpManager
ManageEngine OpManager is an end-to-end network management and monitoring software. It comes with a central console so that you can monitor the entire IT infrastructure from a single place. OpManager is capable of keeping track of faults and performance from different components like network, wireless, VoIP links, firewalls, OS, virtual, and hardware components.
The software can help you monitor hardware health parameters like temperature, voltage, fan speed, processor status, disk arrays, from different vendor platforms. If any of these parameters get over the re-defined thresholds, the software will send alerts.
OpManager uses SNMP to monitor the hardware health of a wide arrange of equipment. It can also provide historical reports on hardware health.
OpManager uses the pre-defined threshold-based alerts to help resolve hardware issues quickly. You can set multiple thresholds for each hardware metric to get instant notifications and alerts.
- Designed to work right away, features over 200 customizable widgets to build unique dashboards and reports
- Leverages autodiscover to find, inventory, and map new devices
- Uses intelligent alerting to reduce false positives and eliminate alert fatigue across larger networks
- Supports email, SMS, and webhook for numerous alerting channels
- Integrates well in the ManageEngine ecosystem with their other products
- Is a feature-rich tool that will require a time investment to properly learn
Price: The OpManager software comes in four different editions, the Essential, Enterprise, Service Packs, and Free. The price is not listed on the official website, but you can request a quote.
Download: The time-unlimited and fully-functional OpManager Free edition and monitor up to ten devices.
SpeedFan is a fan speed, temperature, voltage monitoring tool for systems with hardware monitoring chips.
In some cases, SpeedFan can get information from the S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology), SCSI attributes, and display the temperature of the hard disk.
The software gets the information from digital temperature sensors located inside a PC. It can also alter the speed of fans based on predefined values and the system’s temperature. Changing fan speed can help reduce energy consumption, noise, or improve cooling.
SpeedFan only works with Windows systems.
- Simple installation that begins pulling metrics immediately
- Built for individual machine monitoring with a simple interface
- Collects S.M.A.R.T data as well as detailed metrics about the status of your machine's fans
- Helps users correlate fans speed with temperature
- Not for larger networks
- Lacks long-term monitoring features
- Reporting features could use improvement
Price: SpeedFan is free.
Download: Latest version of SpeedFan for free.
RealTemp from TechpowerUp is a temperature tracking software explicitly designed for Intel processors, such as the single Core, Dual Core, Quad-Core, and Core i7. RealTemp accesses the temperature reports created by the Digital Thermal Sensor (DTS) located on each of these processors.
The software can be calibrated individually, through the “set TJ Max” feature, for each core of the CPU. It can also create reports and logs based on the Intel PROCHOT# thermal throttle activity bit. You can export the reported data to a CSV file.
Extra features and
- Test sensors to monitor DTS.
- Reporting and logging.
- High-temperature alarm and automatic shutdown.
The RealTemp software is only supported by Windows systems. It does not require installation or modification of the registry files.
- Lightweight tool
- Quickly displays temperature metrics
- Includes temperature across different hardware
- Simple CSV export
- Not ideal for continuous or passive monitoring
Price: Real Temp is Free.
Download: Latest version of RealTemp for free.
CPUID’s HWMonitor is a comprehensive PC monitoring software that is capable of collecting hardware metrics, such as temperature, fan speeds, and voltages. The HWMonitor displays all the information on a single-window which divides into component layouts and its geared towards consumers rather than Enterprise/Data-center monitoring.
- It can display CPU and hard drive temperatures, voltages, usage, and power consumption.
- It can keep track of GPU voltage, temperature, and usage.
HWMonitor uses conventional sensors such as ITE IT87 and Winbond ICs to provide hardware information. It can also collect CPU information from core thermal sensors and even the hard-drive temperature through the S.M.A.R.T and video-card GPU.
The software can be installed on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10. It is available on Windows 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
- Easy to use
- Displays metrics in real time
- Quickly displays hardware specs in real-time
- Lightweight tools
- Better for one-off checks and projects
HWMonitor is free. There is also a professional version with extra features. Get a price quote for HWMonitor Pro.
HWiNFO is a comprehensive hardware analysis and diagnostics tool with powerful reporting and monitoring capabilities. It can monitor system components in real-time, predict failure in Windows servers, and produce multiple types of reports and status logs.
HWiNFO is specifically designed to gather and display extensive information about your hardware. Some of this information can be useful for driver updates, system integrators, and to find out the computer manufacturer. The software is capable of monitor system health through components such as Thermal, Voltage, Fan, and Power.
Other Important features include:
- Presents information in Text, HTML, CSV, XML report formats.
- Reports through tables, graphs, logfiles, gadgets, or LG LCD.
The software runs on almost all Windows platforms for both 32-bit and 64-bit editions.
- Extremely detailed, includes metrics not found in other tools like cache sizes, ratio, clocks speed per core, and timing information
- Can track other metrics such as GPU and disk utilization
- Is fully customizable
- Offers built-in visualizations
- Not for non-technical users
- Lack proactive monitoring features
Price: HWiNFO is free.
Download: HWiNFO for free.
9. IT WatchDogs
When it comes to external sensors, IT WatchDogs are the leaders. They offer a wide variety of environment and power management solutions (sensors and software) that can keep track of temperature, humidity, water leakage, airflow, light, sound, door position, smoke, and peaks/drops in power.
When IT WatchDog products detect abnormalities in the environment or power, they can send alerts via SNMP traps, audible alarms, email, or output relays. You can view the application set of IT WatchDog via any web browser.
IT WatchDogs offer a variety of internal and external climate monitors and sensors to measure data from each hardware component or the entire server room environment. All the sensed data is logged and showed in graphical or made available through a CSV file.
- Simple web-based metrics
- Can monitor temperature, airflow, and even server room activity
- Uses simple graphics and CSV reports to illustrate activity
- Sends simple SNMP alerts
- Pricing not publicly listed
Price: Get a quote.
Download: No downloadable.
Electrical outages, floods, failures in hardware, broken HVAC systems, human errors, are downtime accidents that are difficult to prevent. Although some high-end data centers can reach 99% of uptime, there is still the 1% that hurts the business.
System admins often forget it, but the server room and data center environment are one of the critical factors for successful uptimes. Monitoring temperature, humidity, and other climate factors can lead to less downtime and higher reliability.
Some of the server room monitoring tools showed above can help you keep track of the heat and fan speed within a single server. Others can monitor the entire temperature for every device on the network. And other tools with the help of external sensors can watch the whole server room.
Download a free trial and start monitoring your server room today.