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Ask Slashdot: Server Room Toolbox?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the get-your-tools dept.

IT 416

jandersen writes "I am the system manager in charge of a smallish server room (~50 servers, most in racks), and I am going to buy a set of tools; but first I want to hear what other people think would be a good idea. Certainly a range of good quality screwdrivers — slotted, Phillips, Pozidriv, Torx. But what else? Tape measure? Spirit level (for aligning the racks)? Any meters or cable testers? A wood lathe? I can probably get away with a budget of a few hundred GBP, but there ought to be some mileage in that."

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A Netbook (4, Interesting)

darkain (749283) | about 2 years ago | (#42127145)

Certain embedded NICs on laptops and notebooks have a cable diagnostic mode built into them, now... which with the addition of the fact that they are a full system, can perform more than hardware level diagnostics for networks.

Time domain reflectometer. (5, Informative)

khasim (1285) | about 2 years ago | (#42127273)

Because sometimes you want to test the wires that are not connected to a server/workstation.

Get a good hand-held time domain reflectometer. I prefer Fluke but I'm sure that others are just as good.

This will not only tell you that the wires are correct, but if they are broken it will tell you how far away they are broken. VERY handy for hunting down problems.

also tools (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127163)

USB drives, blank cd/dvds, serial to USB dongle, velco strips, label machine .

One philipshead screwdriver (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127165)

You only need one philipshead screwdriver - nonthing else.

Re:One philipshead screwdriver (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127231)

Actually, with the right flat-head screwdriver, you can still use it on a phillips screw.

In broadcasting engineering, that screwdriver is the Xcelite "Greenie".

An axe and a sledgehammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127173)

You feel much better after you used them.

Re:An axe and a sledgehammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127419)

Thermite and oxy-acetylene son, thermite and oxy-acetylene.

Like these... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127177)

Bolt cutter(thank God, we have one and don`t even ask about how we used it.), cordless drill, mile of duct tape.
Cable tester like this(, multimeter tester.
And Laser line level is much better.

Buy crap tools! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127179)

All your good tools will be stolen, just buy the cheap stuff so noone wants to takem. Its better to have cheap tools then none at all. (Or you could nuy nice ones and lock them up and then pray you NEVER leave the tools box unlocked)

Re:Buy crap tools! (5, Funny)

DoctorFrog (556179) | about 2 years ago | (#42127451)

Nah. Buy good tools, crap tools are an invitation to frustration.

To avoid pilferage, paint them pink, and optionally add a little glitter as well.

Hammer (4, Funny)

jrumney (197329) | about 2 years ago | (#42127181)

Don't forget a good hammer for when all else fails.

Re:Hammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127207)

yes this is good.

brute force and ignorance! if it breaks. it needed replacement anyway.

Re:Hammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127215)

Yes, a good hammer and a block of wood. Don't hit the device directly, lay the piece of wood across it first. Comes in handy for seating cards sometimes.

Re:Hammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127223)

You laugh, but have a hammer in there.
Ever bent a rare rack ear? Or any other metal widget?

Hammer time.

Re:Hammer (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 2 years ago | (#42127261)

Don't forget a good hammer for when all else fails.

Didn't you learn ANYTHING from Zelda 2? "If all else fails, use fire!" The dude needs a flamethrower, not a hammer(or a handy fire spell).

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127185)

Toolbox? Yes.

You lose a man point for even asking that.

Re:Seriously? (4, Funny)

game kid (805301) | about 2 years ago | (#42127217)

Irrelevant. He's a server-room system manager, so that implies he's in wizard mode and not getting his score counted.

Re:Seriously? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127313)

Irrelevant. He's a server-room system manager, so that implies he's in wizard mode and not getting his score counted.

THe response you deserve: niggers.

Re:Seriously? (5, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | about 2 years ago | (#42127665)

You lose a man point for even asking that.

Man points? Who cares about man points? A real man is not afraid of looking stupid, if he needs to learn. The only stupid question is the one you don't dare to ask.

Leatherman (2)

pokoteng (2729771) | about 2 years ago | (#42127187)

In fact, you should have it on you at all times when you're working, or at least within easy reach (because they're kinda heavy).

Re:Leatherman (2)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#42127325)

If a leatherman strapped to your belt feel heavy, you seriously need to work out. Been a huge fan of their tools for over 2 decades now.

Re:Leatherman (2)

inamorty (1227366) | about 2 years ago | (#42127487)

I prefer Lenno over Leatherman myself. The chin seems to be able to handle anything I throw at it.

Sounds like you have no cue (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127189)

This is the dumbest question posted here (in a long time).

Are you seriously so clueless about what your job requires that you have to ask about what tools you should buy??

Tools is the last thing you should be worried about. Having some real competency to do the job should be your priority. Because right now you sound like a complete ignorant who don't even know what a server is.

Re:Sounds like you have no cue (4, Funny)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#42127397)

Sounds like you have no cue

I am unsure why you would recommend a cue as being a good tool for someone to possess when running a server room. Is it for asking users "have you ever been poked?" and then giving them a good jab? Or perhaps for turning on the lights or kettle when you cannot be bothered to get up from your desk?

Re:Sounds like you have no cue (5, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | about 2 years ago | (#42127649)

This is the dumbest question posted here (in a long time).

You may well be right. However, the stupidest question is always the one that isn't asked.

Because right now you sound like a complete ignorant who don't even know what a server is.

And you sound like somebody who feels the urge to put somebody down because it makes you feel a bit less bad about yourself. Alas, it didn't work - I don't really give a toss about what you say; if you believed in yourself, then you wouldn't be afraid of asking, even if it makes you look less than divine.

And if you look around at the answers I've got, you will see that a number of people have given some very good advice. Some of it I already know, but there are some good, new ideas that I hadn't thought of.

What I use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127191)

I have one of those screwdriver type handle that accept all sorts of hex bits, like Phillips bits. For less than $20, you can get a ratcheting handle and all sorts of bits for it. The second tool that might come in handy is a big hammer for those stubborn problems. Smashing something with a hammer may not fix it, but it is very satisfying at times.

Re:What I use (1)

Cenan (1892902) | about 2 years ago | (#42127391)

Be sure to buy bits that are little more expensive than the cheapest ones. I cheaped on a case of different bits for home use and they have a tendency to rotate slightly, making them extremely difficult to remove again.

a few hundred GBP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127193)

You listed a lathe on a budget of a few hundred GBP?

Your screwdrivers, tape measure, level, and cable testers will eat up most of your budget just there.

I'm hoping you missed a zero or 2 in there ...

Re:a few hundred GBP (5, Funny)

jandersen (462034) | about 2 years ago | (#42127695)

You listed a lathe on a budget of a few hundred GBP?

That one was a joke - it's something we are prone to in UK, sorry.

I thought of suggesting a scythe, but that sounded kind of rural, so ..., well you know how it is.

Wadsworth mini ratchet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127195)

While not only for server rooms, the miniratchet is so small it can allow you to actually skip a few steps when taking something apart and putting it back together. The best tool ever, and I but them for everyone that works for me.

Re:Wadsworth mini ratchet (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127257)

You should have one of these too:

It's really small, so it's great for tight spots, and the bits work fine on even the smallest screws. Great for laptop/iphone/anything tiny.

Re:Wadsworth mini ratchet (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127335)

have either of you cunts ever heard of <a href> tags?

Angle grinder (5, Funny)

jrumney (197329) | about 2 years ago | (#42127201)

The dust thrown out by the wood lathe is a good idea for ensuring a constant turnover of hardware in your server room, but I find that dust that is conductive works even better, so I'd recommend an angle grinder over a wood lathe.

Re:Angle grinder (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#42127637)

recommend an angle grinder over a wood lathe.

A contractor actually did cut aluminum with a saw in our computer room and got aluminum shards over everything.

You need (4, Informative)

Vadim Makarov (529622) | about 2 years ago | (#42127205)

Mechanical tools: screwdrivers, wrench kit, pliers, cutters (plier style), cutters (x-acto), hammer, metal file (to round an odd sharp corner), tape measure, heavy-duty duct tape, lots of plastic cable ties. I also needed a drill to install an odd rack shelf, so throw one with some drilling bits if your budget allows. I don't know what cables you use, but tools to fix cabling may come in handy (multimeter, soldering iron and solder, shrinkable tubes, special tool to terminate cables, etc.). If you have fiber optics, get a good push-action connector cleaner.

Re:You need (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127277)

metal file (to round an odd sharp corner),

a drill to install an odd rack shelf, .

After those tools get used you need a good vacume cleaner.
Note: Don't get the vacume hose near any electronics; it's full of static. You might even make a metal tip for it that you can ground before using it. I know this because... never mind. Just trust me.

A crowbar and a HEV suit (5, Funny)

nicomede (1228020) | about 2 years ago | (#42127213)

always prove useful. And some ammo.

Re:A crowbar and a HEV suit (1)

zippo01 (688802) | about 2 years ago | (#42127355)

What good is ammo without a gun? Ew Ew new idea, Crowbar Gun! A looters best friend.

Re:A crowbar and a HEV suit (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 2 years ago | (#42127459)

That'd fit nicely in the combination weapons list [] At about half there is a mace with 3 gun barrels that could be used as a holy water sprinkler (for the odd vampire you might meet).

Re:A crowbar and a HEV suit (0)

jandersen (462034) | about 2 years ago | (#42127517)

Don't forget this the UK; crowbars may be a bit difficult to come by.

Re:A crowbar and a HEV suit (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#42127633)

Don't forget this the UK; crowbars may be a bit difficult to come by.

Pretty much any any [] DIY store will have them :)

Re:A crowbar and a HEV suit (1)

tubs (143128) | about 2 years ago | (#42127725)

Just don't carry them in the back of your car, and don't buy a knife and baseball bat at the same time as you will be going to jail!

Re:A crowbar and a HEV suit (2, Informative)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42127769)

Don't forget this the UK; crowbars may be a bit difficult to come by.

I'm beginning to think that either this whole thing is all just some big American troll by you or else you have literally never been out of your mum's basement. If you actually were from the UK, and had ever been shopping, you would know that you can get crowbars (along with knives, axes, chainsaws, sledgehammers and all sorts of other useful tools) from places like B&Q or Homebase.

Absolutely necessary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127225)

A dildo, fleshlight, and a midget. With these, anything is possible.

Re:Absolutely necessary... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#42127647)

The kidget would be useful for running cables under false floors.

Re:Absolutely necessary... (3, Funny)

jandersen (462034) | about 2 years ago | (#42127711)

Ah, you get turned on by the sight of the raw computing power? Me too.

PS: What is a fleshlight? Is it just 'flashlight' as pronounced by 'Her Mejesty'?

Kegerator (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#42127233)

Or as we call it, a "beer storage array".

Impact punch down tool, cable tester... (1)

snikulin (889460) | about 2 years ago | (#42127235)

A boot-able USB floppy drive (to do firmware upgrades). USB boot-able DVD drive just in case. Kill-a-watt or something alike. IR thermometer. LED flashlight.

Re:Impact punch down tool, cable tester... (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 2 years ago | (#42127455)

I'd say either a headlamp or one of those velcro straps that lets you attach a small flashlight to the side of your head. Having 2 hands is pointless when one of them is holding the flashlight and the other is holding the cable mess out of the way!

For proper BOFH-Mode (5, Funny)

AdeBaumann (126557) | about 2 years ago | (#42127237)

Don't forget:

- a rubber hammer (for failing hard drives without visible traces)
- a cattle prod (for failing "visitors" without visible traces)
- a sledgehammer (for failing anything if you don't mind visible traces)
- thermite (to get rid of visible traces)

Re:For proper BOFH-Mode (1)

djsmiley (752149) | about 2 years ago | (#42127529)

By my calculations you need only the last two :)

Re:For proper BOFH-Mode (5, Funny)

rvw (755107) | about 2 years ago | (#42127535)

Don't forget:

- a rubber hammer (for failing hard drives without visible traces)
- a cattle prod (for failing "visitors" without visible traces)
- a sledgehammer (for failing anything if you don't mind visible traces)
- thermite (to get rid of visible traces)

Take some network cables home, put them in a box with a bunch of mice, and use those cables to explain network failing whenever you screwed up elsewhere.

Re:For proper BOFH-Mode (4, Funny)

DamageLabs (980310) | about 2 years ago | (#42127749)

You forgot the essential cable...

No toolbox is complete without the etherkiller.

Miscellaneous suggestions (3, Informative)

Brianwa (692565) | about 2 years ago | (#42127241)

Utility knife for opening boxes and stuff.

A cheapo multimeter. You're working with electronics, having one of these is a requirement even though many people in IT try to get by without them.

Perhaps a soldering iron and solder sucker. Hopefully you'll never need them but weird shit happens.

A set of precision screwdrivers is sometimes needed for taking stuff apart, and can be pushed into extra duty as pin extractors or whatever else.

A dedicated Ethernet tester can be pretty handy too. And get a crimper for these if you don't have one already.

Pencil and Notepad (3, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | about 2 years ago | (#42127243)

Cause in a real emergency they ALWAYS work. And are fast.

Re:Pencil and Notepad (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 2 years ago | (#42127461)

I find a decent scientific calculator comes in handy a LOT when quickly calculating required bandwidth, volume (servers/square foot), cable lengths, etc.

Re:Pencil and Notepad (1)

rvw (755107) | about 2 years ago | (#42127541)

Ergo: you need a decent smartphone to take pictures, make notes, and make sure to install some apps that calculate whatever needs calculating. Yeah and network tools of course.

Some suggestions (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127265)

A toner that works on live network cables
a cable qualifier
a fluke nettool or equivalent
A set of loopbacks
a set of console cables
a buttset
A cage nut tool
2 sets of screwdrivers, including torx, hex, etc.
telescoping magnet (part retriever)
Box cutter
work gloves
ear plugs
a jacket
a jackrapid if your patch panels are modular
a crashcart
power screwdriver
a cordless drill
a rack lift
velcro spools
a stockpile of cage nuts and (matching) bolts

The first few on that list will break the bank.
Most of the time, all I really need is a screwdriver with bitset, a leatherman wave with bitset, a cagenut tool, a flashlight, and a console cable.

Re:Some suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127373)

I second this list, but would add a high-quality set of long driver tips for the power screwdriver.

I also highly recommend spending the little bit extra for a decent sets of Xcellite screwdrivers rather than cheap ones. This is particularly important for phillips screwdrivers since the screws are easy to strip. A good screwdriver will save you a lot more suffering than you might imagine.

Hammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127279)

A Hammer, for use as a last resource when a server misbehaves.

And Duct tape.

Bits and pieces (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#42127293)

A few LED torches

A tool for checking power outlets to see if there is any power

Maybe a breakout box

How about a hand held vacuum cleaner?

Re:Bits and pieces (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 2 years ago | (#42127463)

Those no-touch AC testers (that beep near 120V lines) are very handy when tracking down power problems. No need for the huge claw ones, the $10 Canadian Tire ones work just fine.

Tone & Probe kit (1)

Vrallis (33290) | about 2 years ago | (#42127295)

They cost a little (if you look around you can find a decent one under $75), but I'd highly recommend a Greenlee like this kit: []

The first time you find yourself needing one it will pay for itself in the labor saved. No matter how anal someone might be with labeling cables, you will always find a need for something like this.

Vacuum Cleaner & Rubbish Bin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127299)

Can't stand crap all over the floor. A bin for all the old cable packaging, blank inserts and general detritus goes a long way to making your server room safer and tidier.

system MANAGER? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127311)

Listen, if you are not an engineer, you are less harmful without tools. If you plan on using tools, get yourself, or become, an EE/CE first. Then, engineer will know what tools to provision.

A new hundred? (5, Informative)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 2 years ago | (#42127319)

It all depends on how big your server room is, how actively it changes equipment, and a number of other things.

For a few hundred (anything), you're not really looking at much of a tool set. There are some 'bare minimums', and 200-300 will be eaten up in very short order. Here's a list of what I consider to be bare essentials:

* A multi-set of philips, flathead, etc. screwdriver bits. Make that two sets, they're cheap. Pick up an extra multipack of #2 and #3 Philips driver bits for another couple bucks. Forget independent screwdrivers, that's just wasteful, and you'll never find the one you want because it's awkward to keep them all together and sort through them. In all likelihood, you'll need #3 and #2 philips only, as more and more systems come toolless; this would be for rack equipment.
* A manual torque driver is a must (batteries can fail) - don't be that guy who over-tightens everything and it's impossible to get crap out of a rack without shearing screw heads and stripping bits. You can pick up some pretty decent ones for $10-15. I like the ones with the recessed rear caps which have a cylinder full of different bits.
* A good multitool. MUST MUST MUST. SOG are awesome, I love my PowerAssist. I have done emergency recabling jobs with nothing more than a Spartan Swiss Army Knife. Currently, I'm liking my Gerber Balance (and I keep extra bits in my pocket, just in case). This is your tool; it goes in your pocket, and it's your last line of defense against not being able to fix something because someone ran off with the tool you need.
* A good flashlight. I'm not talking about a $120 surefire, a cheap $10 Trustfire from DX or the like will do just fine. It just can't be crap. (Personally, this is something I always keep on my person anyway.)
* cable tie offs, velcro, cat6 jack heads, spare power and ethernet cables,, etc. - you'll want a supply, because you will probably need them.
* RJ punch down tool (to crimp onto your cat6) - the alternative is to buy all pre-cut lengths, and this makes a mess in short order while wasting a fair amount of money.
* A network continuity testing tool, preferably one that'll allow you to test things thoroughly and not just give you a 'good' light.
* A hardware ethernet tap. You can get a good one for $15 or so.
* compact cordless Makita torque/impact driver, preverably the one with the pivoting head. I have spent a lot of time rebuilding etc. racks, and you never know when you'll need

A very nice to have: compact cordless Makita torque/impact driver, preverably the one with the pivoting head. I have spent a lot of time rebuilding etc. racks, and you never know when you'll need it. IMO a 'must have' but only because I've redone entirely too many racks manually.

This list can balloon quickly, depending on how reliant you are on vendors, and how

Re:A new hundred? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127563)

You're describing my old kit almost to a T. The only things I'd add/adjust are:

* Screwdrivers: Kits sometimes aren't enough. You want long reach and short reach in common sizes. It's often helpful to have 'bent head' screwdrivers as well.
* USB DVD+RW drive. Critical to have.
* USB thumb drives.
* Labeller. Even a cheap Dymo will do wonders.
* USB-to-serial port adapter. There's unfortunately still a lot of gear that requires a serial port to talk to. Make sure you can get it working with your laptop/netbook of choice. (Had all sorts of kext'ing fun trying to get a cheap one from Fry's to work with OS X a few years back.)

Seconding and, if you'll give me time for the proper blood rituals, forcing people to third, forth and fifth the call for a torque driver. Building a rack by hand is fun precisely once.

If you have the room:

* In-rack drawer. If you can keep your crap at the datacenter, you can't possibly forget to bring it.

Re:A new hundred? (2)

jandersen (462034) | about 2 years ago | (#42127747)

I think I understood most of this, but SOG? I had a quick search, and it seems to be either Society Of Genealogist, Surrey Ornithological Group or a manufacturer of organic toilets; I assume that it must be the latter - that would be for those occasions where you can't leave what you are doing, but you really, really have to go?

Re:A new hundred? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 2 years ago | (#42127751)

I would add a two more screwdrivers, both Phillips #2: One long shank, one stubby. There is always one screw just too far away, one in a space just too short for your multi-head.

Some Suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127345)

Ethernet cable tester
Needle-nose pliers
Electric black tape
Duct tape (seriously)
A small rubber mallet (not a hammer as others have suggested, but a mallet is useful)
And most important, a Telescopic Magnetic Pick Up Tool, VERY, VERY useful, at least for me since I keep dropping screws in hard to reach places.

Sonic screwdriver (4, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#42127349)

Definitely get a sonic screwdriver. Most shops don't carry them, and the ones that do are always out of stock whenever I ask for one, but I've seen them used before and they can do anything.

Re:Sonic screwdriver (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127483)

If you ask around, you'll find many old timers swear by sonic screwdrivers, however, most won't tell you where they got theirs. Be extra nice to the old timers, and they MIGHT tell you.

Tools... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127367)

Cordless drill before cordless screwdriver. A 14.4v is good compromise in battery life and power and weight, but if you can get a higher voltage Li-ion one, then go for that. You should be able to have enough control with the drill and figure out the clutch to tighten screws enough.

A Leatherman (or Gerber...) is OK, but a well-equiped, decently sized bike tool might actually be better, have more useful tools (even if you never use the chain breaker on it in your sever room), and be more usable. If you go with the bike tool, then carry a separate knife of your choice whether it be a box knife or something else, and if you're going to be cutting cables, then some cable cutters, dikes (diagonal cutters) or a pair of linesman's pliers.

For the curious fasteners, I'd scrounge around for both a "normal" well-equipped hex-bit set, with the screwdriver-based handle to go with it, as well as the "security" set (I got mine at an Ace Hardware store...).

If you're going to be working around live electrical connections, then get a standard and phillips head electrician's screwdrivers.

Now, the next thing to decide is Klein and other good name-brand tools (or even RIGID or Kobalt/Craftsman) vs cheapo or "contractor-grade" tools. If you can really be sure your tools won't be frequently borrowed* from you, then splurge and buy long-lasting tools where it makes sense (standard screwdrivers). If not, you'll figure out what lasts long enough in use vs how long it lasts in your toolbox at work before it's opportunistically "borrowed", or even honestly lost by you.

*borrowed = casually stolen

For light, get a decent LED headlamp (e.g., Petzl).

And, probably a mechanic's claw, too.

That's what I'd get for the non-electronic set of things.

Cheap thermometer and some string. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127379)

Seriously. Hang a thermometer a foot or two (okay, 30 or 60 centimeters) from the center of the ceiling. Keep an eye on the little guy. Compare it to the thermostat's reading. The "real air" temperature in the room can often be much different than the temperature on the where the thermostat is attached, _especially_ if it's an exterior wall that's being pummeled by sunshine or winds.

I've seen places where the temperature fluctuated so wildly as day and night cycled that it screwed with the equipment, Every time you have a failure document what kind, the thermostat temp and the thermometer temp. If you spot a pattern you might consider calling in the HVAC guys for a recommendation.

A couple more suggestions... (3, Insightful)

Vrallis (33290) | about 2 years ago | (#42127389)

Trying not to duplicate stuff above..

- A cordless drill kept charged in the server room can definitely speed up SHTF moments. Keep a good set of miscellaneous screwdriver bits and drill bits with it.
- Vice grips. It never fails that you find a screw, bolt or nut that are too stripped. Get a regular pair and a needle-nose pair. I even have a miniature one that is great for tight spaces.
- For when the above fail, an E-Z-Out bit set or reverse drill set for when you finish breaking the head off the screw/bolt.
- If you deal with serial at all (yes, it still exists in many modern datacenters), you may want to get a BlackBox sniffer setup, a good BOB (break out box), etc.
- You want at minimum a basic RJ-45 UTP tester, preferably a large multi-type cable tester. A big expensive unit like a Fluke Netmeter may be great to have, but it will take a long time to pay off when there are other ways to troubleshoot issues like that.
- If you ever work with 66 or 110 blocks with any regularity, get yourself a good spring-loaded punch, usually a Paladin. If you don't get one with a pick, get a basic set of picks as well to keep with it.
- Small prybars. The first time you go to change batteries in a UPS and find out the old ones have swollen badly you'll be glad you had them. A pair of very large flat head screwdrivers can substitute, but be prepared to break them.

Not counting ridiculously expensive stuff like Fluke Netmeters, Sunset xDSL kit, and other specialized gear, my basic sysadmin-oriented toolbag is probably around $1500 USD. Unfortunately in my current environment we have no tools around so I have to bring in all my personal gear for it. Very annoying.

labeler (4, Insightful)

georgewad (154339) | about 2 years ago | (#42127399)

label everything

Punchdown tool and DC wiring tools (1)

whois (27479) | about 2 years ago | (#42127403)

Aside from a punchdown tool for terminating cables to racks, I think you would do well with electricians tools. Good scissors, wire strippers, electrical tape, a small and large pair of dykes, cable toner and possibly electrical toner (handy even if you don't think you'll be doing electrical work yourself because sometimes you may need to track down what breaker an outlet is on because it's either improperly labelled, or unlabelled). A non-contact thermometer might be good too for measuring exhaust temperatures of servers.

Some of these tools are obviously handy if you'll be doing any low voltage DC stuff, but most of them are multi-purpose and you may find yourself using one because it's handy even if it's not quite the right tool. Even if none of this stuff seems like things you'll want or need, your objective should be to find things you'll use all the time for the main tools, and things that have multiple uses so you keep getting value for them.

Already got em (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127415)

You don't need to buy a set of tools, there are plenty sitting on the top floor, occuping the individual offices with carpets. The last place you want to put them is in the server room. Leave them up there, keep smiling at them, and keep feeding them tea and biscuits, and all will be well.

Just enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127417)

Buy the tools you need when you need them and upgrade once you find what works for you.

Sure a set of small screwdrivers (1)

Volastic (2781511) | about 2 years ago | (#42127439)

but a rechargeable screwdriver is indispensable ,for me at least. Your always taking covers off something, manual gets old fast. You have the option of setting the torque on an autoscrewdriver, so you can be consistent as well.

A bright red toolbox (1)

Rufus Firefly (2379458) | about 2 years ago | (#42127443)

With a Visa gift card inside, that way when something comes up, you can take yourself down to the local hardware store and purchase what you need as you need it.

Hooka, Bong, Stone, Roach clips, Big Jugs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127447)

And one of those backwards clocks. Oh, and a screwdriver.

Something to use as a serial terminal (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 years ago | (#42127449)

Something to use as a serial terminal is still useful at times. I use a real one, an odd IBM thing where the screen and electronics is a frail and fragile thing that flexes alarmingly when you plug in a cable but the keyboard is an early model M than could be almost be used to bang in nails (seems more solid that the PS/2 versions).
Old laptops with a real serial port also work very well, netbooks with USB to serial are a less reliable second but more portable. A serial to TCP/IP converter moves things into a state where just about any networked PC, tablet or phone can be your serial terminal.

What is this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127467)

Do you really want to fill Slashdot with this kind of garbage?



A chainsaw (1)

alfino (173081) | about 2 years ago | (#42127471)

You definitely need a chainsaw.

Re:A chainsaw (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42127783)

You definitely need a chainsaw.

And a pneumatic drill to dig up the floor when you need to trace a cable. And a Surface to Air Missile launcher in case of attack by terrorists in helicopters.

What the fuck is up with slashdot and these stupid fucking questions?

Cart before the horse. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127551)


Yes, a grounding strap. Also, you can get a small mat for setting cards on without worrying about damaging pins or creating shorts. (Even if you never use them, at least you have them in case someone tries to claim you voided a warranty by not using one.)
A voltmeter is also highly useful, nothing ruins your day like shitty power.

Get a laptop with some type of 3G/4G data card in case shit hits the fan and you can't just jack into one of your local ports.
If you're going to be running any type of fiber jumpers, you'll want some test meters to check light and the gear to clean and replace ends or build patch cables.
If you're dealing with a lot of long or hard-to-reach copper spans, then you should get a testing meter and the tools to build your own. If all your copper-based spans are pretty short, then you can probably skip that and if you need to test you can just swap out with a known good patch cable.

Tags/labels for the cabling. Nothing sucks more than having to try and figure out where a cable was that got knocked loose on accident.
A decent high-resolution digital camera can prove highly valuable for documentation purposes. You can pick up a 10 megapixel one for under $100 new or even cheaper in most places. Each time you work on a rack you can take a shot of it when you're done, so if someone else comes in and fucks something up they'll have a hard time blaming you.

In addition to what you've mentioned, some type of small fan. It really, really sucks when you lose cooling on a critical piece of equipment, and a $5 standard floor fan can be a lifesaver if you don't have replacement equipment on hand.
A small flashlight, I like to use the LED ones which you can strap to your forehead as they're cheap and very handy.

Some people have mentioned powered screwdrivers, but be careful with those. It's really easy to strip or over-torque a screw so if you use one make sure it has a torque setting and you have it set properly. I personally just use a ratcheting screwdriver set, you don't have to mess around with charging or batteries, etc. and I don't find the powered ones any more useful in terms of saving time or effort. If you're going to be building a lot of racks then I can see a powered one coming in handy, but just for routine maintenance and working on the blades I'd go manual to be safe.

Needle nose pliers. Very handy to have in a variety of situations.

Jensen kits (1)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#42127557)

If it's a set for you personally, the Jensen technicians's kit [] is a good start. I have one of their larger kits, and have used it regularly for years. If it's for a room, get a standard wheeled toolchest.

Those are just basic mechanical tools. Test equipment has been covered by others. A few specialized items you might want:

  • A label maker.
  • Heat gun and heat-shrink tubing. Good for shrink wrapping labels onto cables.
  • Cable tie tensioner, cable ties, and tags for use with cable ties.
  • Power outlet tester, to test for reversed polarity and ground failure.
  • Infrared non-contact thermometer. These are as cheap as US$40 now. You point it at something and it tells you the temperature. Find hot spots in racks, failed fans, etc.
  • Air flow meters are somewhat more expensive, but useful if you're responsible for any HVAC system.

must have tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127569)

definatley a tone generator test kit, its the worst when an unlabeled misplaced wire escapes you

A wiki (1)

rvw (755107) | about 2 years ago | (#42127577)

Document everything in your personal wiki. I prefer JSPWiki because of all the plugins and the markup, but that needs Tomcat and may not be the choice of most people. The best alternative is Dokuwiki, which needs no database and has user handling, so standard login features, compared to Mediawiki. Make pictures, make notes, put it in your wiki, and keep it for later use. You don't necessarily need to share it with other people. I keep a personal one for everything I want to remember that is not relevant for my employer.

Must have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127645)

Magnetic and non-magnetic nut drivers. (keep the magnetic stuff away from everything else) All those stupid hex/phillips head screws used in computers are standard everywhere usually. Unless you start getting into branded machines which use their own goofy version with no hex on them.
Being able to put that screw in when you can barely even see it or reach your hand in there is nice.

Zipties. They come in handy so often as well.

Rolls of velcro. Cut to fit whatever you want it for. Does many things and isnt quite so annoying to undo like a ziptie.

Heatgun, heat shrink tubing and or tape.

COOL melt gluegun. Easy to undo. No risk of damage to most things. Stick anything anywhere. And it's non conductive and an ok insulator.

Lenghts of pvc tubing that will fit the head of any screw you are working with. Easy way to start a screw in hard to reach spot

Simple power indicator. did the light light up? you're good. or it's live. test first before you do anything else.

Multimeter geared to the voltages you'll be using. Low/high. Ac/dc. Bonus if its cable clamp type when it comes to ac.
Fine tip probes for above if needed.

a GOOD quality cable stripper. this is very hard to find. ideally the kind that can be used automatic one handed.

the usual assortment of cable crimpers and spare ends for whatever you are working with.

Point and shoot laser temp reader. A bit more expensive but well worth having. And when you want one. Nothing else will do the job as good.

Led Headlamp. Look into what the hunters use. Yes you look stupid. But being able to have light hands free where you want it is a must too often.

Airflow meter.

Toolbox and Padlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127653)

Buy a strong toolbox and a good padlock and only give the key to people you trust. If you don't do this all of your tools will go walkies.

I did very very similar work for a few years (1)

toygeek (473120) | about 2 years ago | (#42127667)

1) Quality number 1, 2 and 3 Philips screwdrivers. QUALITY ones. Not cheap junk. Magnetic tipped.
2) Multi Tool. I like the Gerber Suspension. Cheap ($30 USD) and effective
3) Screwdriver kit with every known bit. DO NOT USE as your every day. See #1
4) Spend $30 on an LED flashlight
5) Air! You need air. $100 cheapo compressor with a 2 gallon tank is enough, but get 5 gallons if you can.
6) Zip Ties, ROLLS of velcro, electrical tape.
7) Soldering kit. A cheap Weller stick will do. You'll need it at times. Not very many.

Thats all I could think of for now.

where to begin? (4, Informative)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#42127677)

I'll just go with what's in my Stanley blue steel cantilever toolbox (the plastic ones are absolute shite and don't like being stood on):

Stanley 99E retractable boxcutter w/5 spare blades
1 snipe nose plier/multitool
1 8" adjustable wrench
2 6" mole grips
2 sets Worx drill/driver bits (comes in a little box. 10 different HSS drill heads, 20 driver heads including Torx, Pozi, Philips, slotted and square and 1 1/4" socket adapter, and 1 extender)
1 set (usually comes in 20's) 1/4" Whitworth bi-Hex sockets in metric and imperial and 2 Neiko 1/4" ratcheting arms: one 6" and 1 10".
2 1/4" Gator Grips: 1 1" and 1 1/2" for those stripped heads
1 14oz claw hammer
1 Bondhus combination balldriver L-wrench set
1 bag case thumbscrews
1 bag chassis screws
1 set (32 pc) precision screwdrivers (better if you can get hold of the case hardened ones, they don't chew up if you hit a particularly hard screw)
1 Challenge 18V cordless drill/driver w/spare battery
1 butane blowtorch
1 can lithium grease
1 Cree LED anglepoise (yeah the arm is custom)
1 13-amp plug with earth pin connected to a wrist strap and two alligator clips
1 QTech PCI diagnostic card - and that just blew the budget on its own
1 QTech diagnostic CD/DVD/FD set
1 copy Knoppix LiveCD
1 CF-IDE module with Knoppix installed on a 16GB card, and several spare cards for recovery
1 bus powered USB DVD burner
1 80GB USB hard drive (custom cased low-drain job... Hitachi if I remember right)

Ask someone competent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127699)

If you don't have a good sysadmin who can tell you what tools THEY need to do THEIR job, you yourself are apparently incompetent as a manger, because you've not hired anyone who actually knows wtf they are doing, and would not know what kind of tools they need to do the job.

Hire someone with some damn experience already.

Get a BucketBoss GateMouth Jr. or maybe a Hopalong Gatemouth tool bag, a DEWALT DW920K screwdriver kit, a DEWALT DC500 or DC515K vacuum, an IDEAL Data T -Cutter, a pair of telecom shears, your standard assortment of screwdrivers, hex, and torx bits, a paintbrush for removing dust, a roll of blue 3M tape, a 6" hex bit extension rod, a toner box and wand, an IR temp meter, a magnetic pickup tool/wand, a razor knife, and then go from there.

Don't buy phillips screwdrivers (1)

subreality (157447) | about 2 years ago | (#42127705)

People always strip the hell out of them by using the wrong one and you end up with a box of five really marginal screwdrivers that are only good for damaging screw heads.

Instead, buy a couple of magnetic handles with interchangeable bits, and then a big box of #2 bits: [] . Keep some #1s around for working on laptops and some #3s if you have big rack screws, but in a server room most things are #2.

THEN THROW THEM AWAY when you round them off. They're cheap and you have a whole box.

Tools, like socks, disappear (1)

tubs (143128) | about 2 years ago | (#42127745)

Tools (like socks in washing basket) disappear - indeed they may be in a locked cupboard, that only you have the key for, but they will still disappear.

The chances of the tools disappearing are directly proportional to the usage that you urgently need at that particular moment.

Also, don't use electric screwdrivers to do up any screws on servers or computers - and especially don't use them on "thumb" screws.

Side arm (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#42127761)

A side arm. Highly visible. Make it obvious that you don't want to be messed with.

I'm definitely on the anti-gun side of the fence in that debate, but I do think some people do need to carry weapons and a sysadmin is one of those.

You'd be surprised what tools people will give you if you ask nicely, while at the same time having your hand hovering over your gun. Sort of like the hitchhikers towel theory but using intimidation rather than sympathy.

budgets waaaay to low (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42127763)

Firstly 300 is absolutely nothing in terms of budget. Put at least a zero on that if you aren't someone stumbling round a bedroom. I used to do this for a living for many years and a single cable and connector order could eat that without blinking for some of the more estoric stuff.
My list quality screwdrivers, a craft (stanley) knife for unboxing, retracting tape measure, rj45 crimps with replaceable dies (do not skimp here, the quality comes with price, expect it to eat at least 80-100 pounds of your budget), a cyclops style cat5 desheathing tool (dont let people use the knife if you dont want ongoing maintenance issues due to intermittent breaks in wires), huge bag of unshielded and shielded cat5 shells, a cheap multimeter, some sort of cable tester with adaptors to use it as a tracer too (you can't afford a real tdm on those numbers), a cable labeler (dont try to use a normal dymo etc the glue softens and they spring off over time, get a id-pro or the like) because heatshrink is a time sink, reels of cat5 on drums of different colors, a tea trolley + serial cable capable setup so you can park the monitor at the back of the racks on it and do some in situ work if the terminal server etc dies, a zip tie gun that you can back the tension off on so it doesnt crush your fragile cabling and more zip ties than you can imagine, some velcro ties for optical cable restraint, bags of cage nuts + screws to fit your racks and stay with one format, ie metrics, some rack trays for emergency "this kit just turned up and needs to be live now and its got the wrong rail system for our racks" moments, A soldering iron and some db9 shells etc.

Oh and you need someone capable of using the above. And as part of that he should be capable of coming up with his own list. And you should trust his judgement when he says he needs something.

Ethernet tap (1)

MavEtJu (241979) | about 2 years ago | (#42127791)

Put it between the two routers[*] which are having a problem and actually see what the packets are.

(Of course you still need the skills to read the packets, but that is not a hardware issue :-)

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