Data Center Cooling

Definition of Data Center Cooling

Data center cooling refers to the process and systems implemented to regulate temperature and humidity within a data center, ensuring the optimal performance of the IT equipment housed there. This is vital for preventing overheating, which could lead to hardware failure or reduced efficiency. Methods for data center cooling include air conditioning, liquid cooling, and outside air and evaporative cooling techniques.


The phonetic transcription of “Data Center Cooling” is:ˈdeɪtə ˈsɛntər ˈkuːlɪŋ

Key Takeaways

  1. Effective data center cooling is crucial for maintaining optimal equipment performance, reducing the risk of overheating, and prolonging the life of data center components.
  2. There are various cooling strategies used in data centers, such as air-based cooling, liquid cooling, and economization, which use outside air or water to reduce energy consumption and operating costs.
  3. Regular monitoring, maintenance, and evaluation of the cooling system is essential to ensure its efficiency and to continually optimize the data center’s energy consumption and overall performance.

Importance of Data Center Cooling

Data Center Cooling is an essential aspect of maintaining optimal performance levels and ensuring the longevity of sensitive electronic equipment in data centers.

As the demand for data processing, storage, and transmission increases, the heat generated by the servers and other electronic devices within these facilities also rises significantly.

Excessive heat can cause hardware failure, performance degradation, and increased energy consumption, ultimately leading to higher operational costs and potential downtime.

By implementing an effective data center cooling system, organizations can maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity levels, improving equipment reliability, reducing energy costs, and minimizing the environmental impact of data center operations while ensuring uninterrupted service for users and organizations relying on the essential data processing and hosting services provided by these facilities.


Data center cooling plays a crucial role in maintaining the optimal operational environment for the vast array of servers, storage devices, and network equipment contained within these facilities. These critical components of the digital world generate significant heat as they process, store, and transmit large volumes of data. Without an effective cooling system, the elevated temperature inside data centers could lead to hardware malfunctions, impaired performance, increased risk of component failure and, ultimately, disruptions to the countless services and applications upon which modern society relies.

As such, the primary purpose of data center cooling is to regulate the ambient conditions and ensure they remain within a specific temperature, humidity, and cleanliness range. To achieve this central purpose, various methods and technologies are employed, depending on factors such as the size, location, and energy efficiency goals of the data center. One conventional approach to data center cooling is Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units, which distribute cool air throughout the facility and work in conjunction with a blower or exhaust system to expel the hot air generated by the equipment.

More advanced cooling techniques, such as liquid-cooling solutions, also exist. These involve immersing servers in dielectric liquids that absorb and transfer heat more efficiently than air or utilizing water-cooled systems to regulate heat. Data center cooling ensures that modern digital infrastructure operates safely and efficiently, providing uninterrupted access to vital information and services in an ever-growing, interconnected world.

Examples of Data Center Cooling

Google Data Center in Hamina, Finland: Google’s data center in Hamina stands as an example of innovative and efficient data center cooling technology. This facility uses seawater from the nearby Gulf of Finland to cool its servers. The cold seawater is pumped into the data center to absorb the heat generated by the servers and then returned to the sea. This method eliminates the need for mechanical chillers, significantly reducing energy consumption and environmental impact.

Facebook Data Center in Luleå, Sweden: Facebook’s data center in Luleå, Sweden, takes advantage of the cold climate to cool its servers. The facility uses an outdoor air-cooling system that draws in the outside air and cools it further using evaporative cooling. This cooled air is then used to regulate the temperature of the servers, reducing the need for energy-intensive air conditioning. The heat generated by the servers is exhausted back into the environment, providing nearby homes and businesses with free heating.

Microsoft’s Project Natick: Microsoft’s Project Natick is an experimental data center deployed underwater off the coast of Scotland. The concept behind this project is to leverage the consistently cold temperatures of deep ocean water for server cooling. By submerging data centers in the ocean, Microsoft can save a significant amount of energy that would otherwise be spent on cooling systems. Additionally, this approach could also lead to reduced latency by placing data centers closer to large populations located near coastlines.

Data Center Cooling FAQ

1. What is data center cooling?

Data center cooling refers to the systems and techniques used to manage and regulate the temperature in a data center. These systems are necessary to maintain optimal environmental conditions for servers, networking equipment, and other critical electronics to ensure proper performance and prevent overheating.

2. Why is cooling important for data centers?

Cooling is crucial for data centers because excess heat can cause equipment failures, performance degradation, and reduced service life for hardware components. Data centers require proper cooling solutions to maintain appropriate temperature and humidity levels to protect sensitive electronic devices from thermal stress and prevent downtime.

3. What are some common data center cooling techniques?

Common data center cooling techniques include air-cooled systems, liquid-cooled systems, and economizers. Air-cooled systems use CRAC (computer room air conditioning) units, while liquid-cooled systems circulate coolants to absorb heat. Economizers utilize outside air to cool the data center when outside temperatures are favorable.

4. How do I select the appropriate cooling solution for my data center?

Consider factors such as data center size, location, budget, power requirements, and cooling requirements when selecting a cooling solution. Proper evaluation of these factors will lead to the most efficient and cost-effective cooling solution for your specific data center.

5. How can I make my data center cooling system more energy efficient?

To make your data center cooling system more energy-efficient, implement techniques such as aisle containment, proper airflow management, and investing in energy-efficient cooling equipment. Additionally, monitoring and adjusting temperature and humidity levels and performing regular maintenance on your cooling system will improve energy efficiency.

6. What role does humidity play in data center cooling?

Humidity plays a significant role in data center cooling as it impacts the overall efficiency of the cooling process. Maintaining the optimal humidity level helps prevent condensation, static electricity, and corrosion, which can lead to equipment failures. Most data centers maintain a relative humidity between 40-60% to balance cooling efficiency and hardware protection.

Related Technology Terms

  • Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Liquid Cooling System
  • Hot Aisle/Cold Aisle Design
  • Evaporative Cooling
  • Thermal Energy Storage

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents