Fix a Dell Poweredge R320 network port

A vendor–the vendor’s name is unimportant–shipped us a DOA appliance based on a Dell Poweredge R320 1U server (I think the model number is correct) this week. That gave me the opportunity to learn how to fix a Dell Poweredge R320 network port.

The network light showed no activity when we plugged it in. Swapping cables and network ports made no difference. Grasping at straws, I asked if the network ports were on a card. The vendor said yes, they’re on a daughter board, and, oh, by the way, reseating the daughter board has helped a couple of other times in the past.

You don’t say?

So I had our technician reseat the daughter board. Initially, the light still didn’t work. He swapped cables and ports again, and got lights. So then he swapped back, and still got lights, and the server worked.

These things can happen when a server gets shipped across the country. Single-board designs are resistant to this, but using a daughter board gives more flexibility and upgradablity, so there’s a tradeoff.

Problems like this are where server room experience helps, even when you rarely set foot in a server room anymore, like I do. Even though this week was the first time I’d set foot in a server room since 2009, I was able to help the vendor and technician find the ultimate resolution, even though other people actually did the work and all I did was listen and talk.

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