Server Decommissioning Checklist for Proper Decommission Plan & Execution

Table of Contents

There will come a time when you will have to bid goodbye to every device on your organization’s network. This includes your computers, printers, laptops, and keyboards, and occasionally businesses are required to decommission a server. Although goodbyes are hard, it’s something that everybody has to accept and do for the common good.

Now, decommissioning old IT equipment is not easy. Therefore, we’ve created a server decommissioning checklist to break down the complex process into smaller and more manageable pieces. But before we delve into that part, here are a few important reminders to consider.

Sometimes, referred to as the server decommissioning process template, this checklist is important to follow as the success of the server decommissioning process depends on it.

server decommissioning process

Server Decommissioning Vs. Data Center Decommissioning

Server Decommissioning and Data Center decommissioning are used interchangeably on many occasions but there is a slight difference between these two services. A server is an individual device that might be located in a business or a data center. Therefore, decommissioning a server means retiring or replacing a single server only. However, the data center is comprised of multiple servers, networking devices, and other associated peripherals.

Data center decommissioning might include multiple servers as well as other network devices that might require decommissioning. This is the only difference between these topics. The planning and checklist provided in this blog are suitable for both servers and data centers.

Important Reminders About Server Decommissioning Process

The entire data center or server decommissioning process requires detailed planning, especially considering maintaining a live environment for the business. Furthermore, a key consideration should be your organization’s sensitive information in your data center, and its security during disposal.

The importance of data protection in organizations is generally understood, but the risks and implications associated with poor data center decommissioning are not. Luckily today, more professionals for data protection regulations and companies exist to provide this service, making storage, networking, and server decommissioning easy and accessible.

Think about it, most companies now consider cyber security an important tool to protect their IP and valuable data… why should this be any different when decommissioning your old equipment where the data still exists? Along with cyber security, companies should have a proper data destruction policy so that data leaks or issues do not emerge.

So, businesses must adequately follow the server decommissioning checklist (Server Decommissioning plan template) to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Creating Server Decommission Plans at Initial Phase

During the initial phase, the project manager will draft the scope of work that needs to be done. He/she will establish goals and come up with expected project outcomes. S/he will also identify milestones and timelines. As much as possible, s/he will establish and set the necessary workflows to prevent the loss of crucial data when making decommissioning plans.

server decommissioning plan

Remember that the initial setup phase can make or break the entire storage, networking, and server decommissioning process. To avoid problems and issues in the process, here is a list of things that you need to do during the initial phase:

  • Identify and communicate with relevant decision-makers.
    First, identify all the people involved in the decision-making process. Assign tasks to each one of them. Set up a communication channel for everyone involved and keep them updated every step of the way.
  • Appoint a project manager.
    Assign or appoint somebody to oversee the entire server decommissioning process. It would be great to choose a person who has extensive experience with decommissioning old IT equipment.
  • Set a budget.
    When setting a budget, it helps to work with a qualified auditor to provide you with a valid and concise valuation of your hardware and assets. And then, work together to come up with a realistic estimate of the expenses.
  • Establish a timetable.
    After setting a budget, it’s time to establish a timetable. The less organized and the less prepared you are, the more likely that issues and delays will occur. If everyone in the project knows when a goal is due, then everything should proceed smoothly.
  • Outline the scope of work.
    Every process and stage of the data center and server decommissioning should be outlined clearly. You must assign who is responsible for what, how, when, and where. This way, the process stays fluid and consistent.
  • Prepare a document with all the contact information of your team members.
    You can never tell when issues may arise, so it’s best to create a document with all the contact information of all the important people, contractors, and other team members. You don’t want your technician to find a critical error in the process, only to be unable to contact relevant service providers.
  • Set a time to start the server decommissioning process.
    It is ideal to schedule the server decommissioning process off hours. This is ideal during a data center migration situation, but it still comes in handy during a server or data center decommissioning.

Server Decommissioning Process

At this stage, all servers that need to be decommissioned need to be logged. The person in charge will have to identify the final designation of the data center equipment whether they need to be repurposed, resold, or recycled. Also, he/she needs to identify and retain the software licenses associated with the servers to be decommissioned.

Other things to do in this stage are as follows:

  • Cancel Vendor Contracts of the Server

Any kind of vendor maintenance and other contracts of the data center or the server must be scheduled for cancellation before going forward with decommissioning of a server. Breach of contracts with any parties with regard to the server can become costly to your business if you do not follow this step. As per the timeline set while developing decommission plans, do not forget this step from the server decommissioning checklist for smooth decommissioning of a server.

  •  Run Proper Simulations for Live Systems

If decommissioning is to be carried out in a live environment, running simulations on all the backups are necessary to test the proper working of the system. As downtime can be pretty costly in some scenarios, doing this can help minimize the downtime of the server and makes your business more credible. 

  • Always Have a Backup!!

data backup for server decommissioning

Create a comprehensive backup, or transfer data to the new devices so that any contingencies can be dealt with. Whilst creating a backup, make sure that you follow the correct process as each server can be different and may require specific expertise.

  • Secure Data Erasure

Now that all the above steps are completed, we can begin secure data erasure. I have preached again and again about the need for secure data erasure and once again, I must say businesses need to take it very seriously. Secure data erasure services are already a part of a server decommissioning process and if using a professional service, everything will be handled appropriately. This step highlights the importance of secure data erasure using a software wiping method like Blancco. 

  • Disconnect The Devices from Network

In this step, you must disconnect all the equipment from the network which is pretty straightforward. Depending upon the complexity of the network, you will require expert manpower to deal with technical issues such as removing firewalls, subnets, and other necessary actions.

  •  Power down or disconnect the Server

It’s time to power down the server. After all the steps have been finished, you will need to disconnect and power down the devices from the power plugs. Seems too small but I want this blog to be as comprehensive as possible as it can also present possible areas of concern for a business… for example, perhaps you still have systems running on these servers from the previous IT Manager, powering them down will immediately highlight this to arrange a solution.

  •  Achieve Complete Data Sanitization

Secure data erasure using Blanco or other software must be completed, if not already completed in the steps above. If software-bas data erasure is not part of the scope (which sometimes can occur), it would be best to use physical destruction services or any relevant data destruction methods to achieve complete data sanitization. This can be done either on-site or off-site depending on your data security requirements. 

  • Get Data Erasure Certificates

Obtain the certificates of the data erasure confirmation performed on the devices. You should insist on a copy of all serial numbers from devices or hard drives. Remember, the only way you can ensure complete, secure data destruction is once you receive a certificate from a trusted company – this protects your reputation and exposure. 

If you’ve decided to go through the ordeal of server decommissioning, the most important point of focus is ensuring certified data destruction. Some companies may offer to pay money for excess data devices & e-waste but could avoid providing certificates of data erasure and disposal – this is a warning sign, if you do not pay for the service, then it’s likely that your products are their payment. So, getting certificates is a very important step of the server decommissioning checklist that you cannot miss at all.

  • Get Audit Logs and Reports

auditing during server decommission

Finally, you will go through an audit report of the entire decommissioning project to assess for areas of improvement. It is your right to obtain audit logs of each and every activity carried out by the server decommissioning company. 

This checklist can be helpful for any business that is planning to decommission its server/ data center. You must make sure that the organization providing decommissioning services can satisfy all nine server decommissioning checklist elements and any other requirements you might have.

Disposition After Decommission of Server

it asset disposal

In this stage, the project manager needs to ensure the hardware is separated for auditing & processing. Auditing and processing warrant that servers along with other hardware are evaluated and labeled for either reuse or e-waste.

A supporting company can assist in removal, auditing, processing, and reporting for this asset disposal stage. Lastly, the project manager should coordinate with the finance and accounting department, so that all servers and assets are taken off the books and that software licenses are accounted for. Although specific implementation can vary, this server decommissioning checklist can be applied to most servers and data centers.

Why Use Eco IT Solutions for Server Decommissioning?

Decommissioning servers, storage, and networking from data centers do not have to be a headache. If you have this checklist and a project manager, then the entire process will be made easy.

At Eco IT Solutions, we aim to make the end-of-life decommissioning and IT Asset Disposal process easier for organizations. If you need a trustworthy server decommissioning company that is backed by years of experience in the industry, we are happy to help. We have years of experience in decommissioning servers.

By partnering with industry specialists in server or other enterprise decommissioning, we guarantee that the entire process will go smoothly, and you’ll have the reporting and certifications you need to keep your data safe and organization sustainable. Contact us today!


What equipment does Eco IT Solutions accept?

We accept all types of Servers, Storage and Networking devices as well as all data bearing assets. Lastly, all electrical cabling and data center related equipment is accepted - old racks and UPS devices.

How do I compare data center decommissioning vendors?

Data centers rely on a vendor to provide decommissioning services on-site, and most of the time also provide disposition services of retired assets. These services include: server or other asset decommissioning, removal of cables, lease returns of some assets, secure data destruction, inventory audit & tracking, packaging & logistics, and finally e-waste disposal or asset remarketing. The vendor you choose to work with should provide certificates of data destruction and e-waste recycling.

How Long Does it Take to Decommission a Server?

In most cases, server decommissioning can take 1-2 hours within a data center or within your business premise. But complex systems may take even longer depending upon what else needs to be removed. This could include, but not limited to cabling, UPS devices, storage devices like NAS or SAN.

Will my Company Get Paid for Doing Server Decommissioning?

Depending on the condition, age and specifications of your server, you will most likely be paid for your decommissioned servers. We sell used servers and IT assets through a range of channels to ensure you get fair market value for your equipment.

How do I Compare Data Center Decommissioning Vendors?

Data centers rely on a vendor to provide decommissioning services on-site, and most of the time also provide disposition services of retired assets. These services include: server or other asset decommissioning, removal of cables, lease returns of some assets, secure data destruction, inventory audit & tracking, packaging & logistics, and finally e-waste disposal or asset remarketing. The vendor you choose to work with should provide certificates of data destruction and e-waste recycling.

Which Methods of Data Destruction is Secure?

Depending on your end goal for ITAD (IT Asset disposal), you may choose a software based data erasure method which is best if you plan to either reuse or remarket the asset. Alternatively, physical destruction is best if you wish to dispose of the IT asset (or bulk assets) in a cost effective way. At Eco IT Solutions, we recommend a crush & shred method to guarantee that data is irrecoverable. If you are still concerned about data security, we recommend having the drives destroyed either on-site at your premises or sending a company representative to witness the destruction at our facility. We no longer recommend degaussing as it does not apply for all data bearing devices, in some ways we believe this is somewhat of a redundant method of erasure.

What Happens to my Servers and Other Equipment Once Decommissioned and Collected ?

Depending on your preferences, we give you the option to recover value from the assets and maximize resource recovery, either through reuse, responsible recycling or IT asset remarketing. This is known as the IT asset disposition (ITAD) or e-waste recycling.

Dean Atrash


Dean Atrash

Hi, I am Dean Atrash, and I founded Eco IT Solutions to make the asset disposal process easy and smooth for all businesses. Most importantly, it was to create a process that is sustainable, secure, and cost-effective.

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