Electromagnetic interference and data center, servers and hardware in general

Electromagnetic interference and data center, servers and hardware in general.

The business world is migrating to digital. Data centers have become a digital infrastructure that can house large amounts of information. Even so, electromagnetic interference is one of the great enemies of technology and data centers and web servers fight against it.

Electromagnetic interference and data center, servers and hardware in general
Electromagnetic interference and data center, servers and hardware in general 2


Electromagnetic interference is invisible but its effects can be observed. By itself, it poses complex challenges for the correct development of technological circuits in a company. Today we will give you a tour of the importance of good shielding against electromagnetic interference along with everything you need to know.

Data centers are a growing part of the business world. They are responsible for housing almost the entire digital infrastructure of a company. In their quest to build that perfect data center, engineers consider many aspects.

However, issues related to electromagnetic interference (EMI) are often ignored when designing a data center. EMI, although invisible, can pose the most terrible challenges for an installation, endangering the health of the servers that are in it.

This article discusses the reasons why adopting proper EMI shielding is essential for the well-being of your data center.
Low and high frequency electromagnetic field interference (EMI) caused by electrical equipment, cell phones, microwaves, TV and radio signals, etc. can produce harmful effects on IT equipment, thus reducing quality of service and availability.

What is Electromagnetic Interference?

Abbreviated as “EMI”, electromagnetic interference can be defined as an electromagnetic field that is capable of interrupting or violating the normal operation partially or totally of electronic equipment.

Interference is generated by elements of daily life that can be from cell phones to neon lights, fluorescent lights or even radios. Large telecommunications exchanges alongside airports and railroad stations also generate interference in data centers and other electronic devices.

Those responsible for solving these types of problems are the system administrators along with the network engineers who are part of the technology and information teams. They must find the cause and discover the server that is causing the errors and then give you a solution to this problem.

Electromagnetic interference, or radio frequency interference, is when an electromagnetic field disrupts or degrades the normal operation of an electronic device. Such interference is generated on a small scale by everyday items ranging from cell phones to fluorescent lights.

Large sources of interference, such as telecommunications signal facilities, airports, or electric railways, can interfere with data center servers and network devices if they are in close proximity.

System administrators, network engineers, and others who work directly with the team are more likely to see symptoms first, even if they don’t realize their cause. If you find that a server is experiencing unexplained data errors and standard troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the issue, look for potential sources of electromagnetic interference.

High levels of EMF will have disastrous effects on computer equipment, servers, CRT displays, medical equipment and other electronic devices.

Results can range from shaky monitor screens to intermittent and unexplained failures. Electronic magnetic frequencies are all around us. In office buildings, frequencies can be generated by high-power lines, transformers, UPS equipment and high-voltage switching equipment and these sources can be hidden in walls or behind doors where no one is suspect.

Emf Effects

Web Servers and their Relationship with Electromagnetic Interference

Web servers are the most affected. Although, they host different elements related to web pages, internet connections and others so they must always work optimally. Electromagnetic interference is capable of causing malfunctions such as defects in the loading of web pages, turning on and off the page, problems storing data…

Electromagnetic interference can turn a good web server into the worst you’ve ever tried. And it is not some problem in its design but the EMI does not allow it to work as it should and then begins to develop disastrous orders.

Protection of cabling systems against EMI

While electromagnetic interference can affect the performance quality of structured cabling systems, EMI shielding is an effective method to help avoid this.

Shielding is one of the techniques used to protect EMI’s telecommunications cabling systems. When designing and installing shielded solutions, grounding/grounding and bonding should be considered very carefully. Proper grounding and connection are mandatory to ensure the effectiveness of shielded systems.

Effects on hardware

Low-frequency EMI caused by power sources can produce very harmful effects on hardware, for example, a hard drive can be easily erased with the action of a nearby magnetic field.

High levels of interference are capable of wreaking havoc on computers, data centers, and web servers. On its own, it’s a big hurdle for IT departments as they make them start a search to find where the interference is coming from and then how to stop it without affecting what’s around.

The effects of electromagnetic interference are varied and some of them can be:

  • Screens: They can be turned on and off if the EMI is very powerful. There may also be shaky monitors or even flashing failures that have nothing to do with loose cables.
  • Wired: If the wire is very close to a strong electromagnetic field then there may be voltage changes in the current. It can go up and down abruptly so it will be difficult for some equipment to function properly.
  • Voice Apps: The interference usually causes a rather uncomfortable noise, so it is common to hear how voice and data applications are the first affected even if there is only a little interference.

Difficulty Receiving: In the event that the EMI is very strong, it is possible to encounter difficulties when receiving data. There may be a marked delay or even the data may arrive incomplete or have problems at the time of loading.

How data centers are exposed to EMI

Regular data center equipment such as high-power lines, transformers, UPSs, and high-voltage switch gears generate and emit electromagnetic frequencies in large quantities. Therefore, for all data centers, their own sets of in-house equipment are the largest sources of electromagnetic radiation.

The problem is that most of these fountains remain hidden in the building: some are buried inside the walls, while others are installed behind doors that no one can access. Some data centers are exposed to EMI radiation because of their location. For example, servers and network equipment are likely to be further damaged if data centers are located near electric railroad tracks, airports, or telecom towers.

Some everyday items like cell phones and fluorescent lights also produce EMI on a small scale. With EMI sources remaining mostly undetected, unsuspecting homeowners take no action to protect these buildings from the attack of these harmful energy waves.

But for any data center, failure to curb EMI can backfire in the long run. An uncontrolled electromagnetic field (EMF) will have disastrous effects on all of your data center hardware: servers, CRT displays, and cables. The consequence can range from nervous monitor screens to unexplained failures.

Equipment that functions as data centers such as transformers and high-frequency lines emits electromagnetic frequencies that can affect other hardware. The data centers themselves are the largest sources of EMI and are sometimes difficult to locate.


Sometimes these sources of electromagnetic radiation are hidden in walls or installed behind doors that are difficult to access. Depending on their location, data centers can be exposed to radiation. For example, if they are near railways or communication towers then they will be more exposed to this type of radiation.

It is you must take care of the data centers that are your property since, in the long term, it can bring you many problems which will not be entirely pleasant. Out-of-control electromagnetic fields can have negative consequences for hardware and your data centers such as CRT screens, cables and internal servers.

EMF attacks

Another reason for shielding is EMF attacks. The oldest cyber frontier is the actual physical attack or threat of attack to disable data centers. This can be done without saboteurs having access to the inside of the data center.

EMF can be used to disable data centers. It is, in fact, the oldest trick of launching a debilitating assault on a major facility. Saboteurs often take this route because it allows them to cripple a data center without entering the facility. There are three ways to attack data centers through EMI:

  • Theft of information from databases managed by servers maintained in these centers, a task that can be easily carried out by touching telecommunications equipment such as terminals that emit weak electromagnetic signals.
  • Attacking a data center directly by exposing it to high-powered electromagnetic waves.
  • Producing a blockage by exposing a center to high-power electromagnetism (HPEM).

Given their vulnerability to electromagnetic radiation and malicious EMI attacks, investing in proper electromagnetic interference protection solutions has become an imperative for data centers.

Shielded data centers act as a countermeasure against EMI-induced performance and security issues. Therefore, engineers should treat it as the crucial first step when designing a new data center building. Integrating EMI solutions into the design phase will save a lot of hassle later on.

Editions 2019-22-23

Read also: What does IT actually do?; What is hardware?; 1 Tb Hdd Meaning

External resource: Wikipedia

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