Data Center Decommissioning Process 

Data Center Decommissioning

Deciding to close, replace, or relocate your data center should not be made lightly. Secure decommissioning is a complex process that takes months of careful planning to complete effectively. That said, data center equipment will become outdated and must be disposed of at some point, making the decommissioning process necessary.   

What is Data Center Decommissioning? 

Data center decommissioning is the process of shutting down servers, network switches, and other IT equipment that you no longer need. Decommissioning may be necessary for several reasons including equipment upgrades, moving workloads to the cloud, or data center consolidation.  

Typically, decommissioning does not refer to closing an entire data center, but simply removing some infrastructure inside a data center. Although, if you are shutting down an entire data center, decommissioning will still be part of the process.  

Create a Data Center Decommission Checklist 

It is more likely that your business will be disrupted when decommissioning a data center than opening one in the first place. You must closely follow a predefined data center decommission checklist to minimize disruption.  

Creating a data center decommission checklist will secure your sensitive data stored on devices and preserve maximum resale value on your decommissioning IT equipment. Here is a list of items to consider for your checklist: 

Data Center Decommissioning

Identify Your Data Center Decommissioning Scope 

Begin with a basic assessment of your project’s scope. First, you will need to create a timeline that includes an optimal end date based on the likely business impact and your available resources. Second, create a realistic budget that includes a full scope of the work required and any potential resale values. Third, set an end goal for your project. It is important that your decommissioning project has a clear direction and focus to prevent delays and excess costs.  

This is also a good time to assign a project manager to your project. They will be able to oversee and keep the decommissioning process on track and can act as a point of contact for your data center decommissioning service provider.  

Asset Discovery and Inventory 

You will need a detailed inventory of servers, switches, and other equipment scheduled for decommissioning. Inventories should include all assets (hardware and software), locations, and serial numbers for financial and legal recordkeeping.  

IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) providers offer automated network discovery tools to identify outdated or obsolete assets. You will need to match their discoveries with your physical review and create a comprehensive inventory list. Make sure that your inventory includes:  

Data Center Decommissioning
  • Servers 
  • Hard drives 
  • Networking Hardware 
  • Software licenses 
  • Keyboards 
  • Peripherals 
  • Power Equipment 
  • Storage Racks 
  • Cabinets 
  • HVAC equipment 
  • Anything else being decommissioned 

It is also a good idea to designate items based on whether they will be reused, remarketed, or recycled.  

Decommissioning Planning 

The first step in the planning process is finding a specialized partner to help you with the logistics of safe data migration and asset disposal. You will want a reputable company that provides accurate documentation for data erasure, disposal, and certificates of destruction.   

Next, you will want to identify any team members involved in the decommissioning process. Define their specific roles, responsibilities, and obligations. Clear designations of roles and responsibilities will make the process run more smoothly.  

Then, take another look at your scheduling timeline to confirm an end date (even in a worst-case scenario) before your business begins to be negatively impacted. Create any necessary backup systems and policies to protect critical data from being lost in the decommissioning process.  

Acquire Logistics Materials & Tools 

The materials and tools you will need will vary based on the type, scope, and size of your facility. It will also depend on the outside help you hire to assist with the manual labor aspects of your decommissioning project. Certified data center decommissioning services will have properly vetted employees with the appropriate background checks and security authorizations.   

If you are handling the project yourself, you will need a wide variety of tools, machinery, and equipment. Transportation materials will include pallets, crates, boxes, packing materials, labels, and more. Heavy machinery may include forklifts, hoists, moving vehicles, and pallet jacks. You may also need a variety of hand tools.  

To destroy electronic data and hard drives you will need device shredders and degaussers. We recommend partnering with a professional electronics destruction and recycling provider rather than purchasing equipment to do this yourself. Professional services will ensure secure destruction and provide you with certified documentation.   

Backup and ITAD 

You and your provider should double-check your backups to ensure that your data is safe before decommissioning. Once the backup data is confirmed safe, decommissioning can start. If you are relocating, you can transfer workloads to new equipment or temporary storage locations like cloud platforms. 

To complete decommissioning all of your data will need to be sanitized and destroyed. ITAD is the process of disposing of old equipment in a secure and environmentally friendly way. This can be completed onsite or offsite depending on your needs. Recycling or resale of your equipment will depend on your specific data security needs and the value of your equipment. Your provider can assist you with the logistics of market values and resale if you are interested.  

Remove or Relocate 

Disposition is the final step in the decommissioning process. Disposition involves packing, moving, and palleting your equipment. Be sure to carefully label and tag all assets to make the moving process easier. If you are working with an ITAD partner, you may need to sign security releases for shipments.  

Equipment and Accounting Follow Up 

As assets leave your location, you should conduct verification checks against the inventory to ensure your documentation is accurate. This information should be passed to your accounting team.  

You will want to document the final resale price of hardware that is resold, make sure hardware maintenance contracts have been canceled, and process certificates of destruction for your records. Documentation ensures environmental and regulatory responsibilities have been met.  

Data Center Decommissioning

How to Select a Data Center Decommissioning Partner 

An effective and successful decommissioning project is best tackled with an expert data center decommissioning partner. Professionals are experienced with ITAD and have the resources and equipment to complete your project quickly and securely. You will also want to make sure that your highly sensitive data is handled by a partner you can trust.  

When selecting a data center decommissioning partner there are several qualifications you will want to look for. Here are some considerations to research when vetting an ITAD company: 


You will want to partner with a company that has a long history of managing IT assets successfully. They should demonstrate their ability to complete projects on time, within budget, and without any major setbacks.  

Customer Service 

Excellent customer service and clear communication are essential to a successful decommissioning process. Quick and positive responses will speak to how they handle clients amid the stress of an ongoing project. You will also want a company that is open to discussing its approach, policies, and expectations regarding your services. 


You will want to select a company that maintains proper accreditations for recycling and safe operation. These accreditations are legally required for ITAD partners to operate. Additional certifications demonstrate a company’s ability to go above and beyond to provide superior services.  

Reviews & Recommendations 

A quality company will be able to provide references from past projects. Take the time to research the company’s skills, communication, and services before selecting a partner.  

Service Options 

Not all ITAD companies offer the same services, some companies only handle a limited scope, while others can handle a full range of offerings. You will want to select a company whose services align with your needs.  

Data Center Decommissioning

Find a Decommissioning Partner with ShredTronics 

The decommissioning process is easier with a trusted ITAD partner by your side. ShredTronics partners with verified providers across the country. Our data center decommissioning experts offer a wide range of services to complete your project from start to finish. We offer a secure chain of custody, responsible recycling, and secure data destruction.  

Call us at (844) 648-4908 or fill out the form to find a provider near you. We will send you no-obligation price quotes from our trusted partners right away.  

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