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Exchange Best Practices and Optimisation

Posted on 2007-12-07
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Last Modified: 2008-03-06
Hello

I am implementing a new Exchange server as my current hardware is just too slow. I have a Dell 2950 with x6 146 HDDs in a RAID 0+1 with one large volume. The box is x1 dual core proc with 4GB RAM running Windows 2003 RS Std. I have partitioned this volume into 2 drives a 2GB C: drive where I have installed Windows and the Exchange program files, and a large D: where I have installed the Exchange edb's stm's and logs.

My question is, can someone let me know the best practices for the most optimised box. I have about 300 mailboxes averaging 1GB each that I need to migrate to this server. I am not sure about some of the deeper Exchange settings, how to best set the page files, how many storage groups to have, etc etc. Advice from Exchange guru's will be very much appreciated.

Thank you,
Ricky
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Question by:unicornit
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Expert Comment

by:Veerappan Sundaram
ID: 20426405
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Author Comment

by:unicornit
ID: 20427065
Thanks Veera - but that tool seems to only specify which hardware to buy. I am looking for specific config recommendation for Exchange as detailed above.
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Expert Comment

by:Veerappan Sundaram
ID: 20427247
With this RAID config, you will get only 3*136 = 408 GB usable space.

I would go for 10 GB system drive. Because OS and Exchange will occupy atleast 2 GB of space.
You need to provide more room for temp files that will be created later sometimes and also for the page file. Page file should be 150% of your physical RAM.

You should have another 2 logical drives - One for Transaction logs and other for databases.
TLog drive depends on your daily average email transaction and the backup strategy. Since this server is going to be your mailbox server, I don't recommend Circular logging.

For better performance, databases should be on adifferent drive als together.

If you ask me for better performance harware setup, here is the one for your environment:
1. Virtual Disk 1: For system drive (C:) -  2*136 GB with RAID 1 (you can go for lower capacity also)
2. Virtual Disk 2: Transaction Logs - 2 * 136 GB with RAID 1
3. Virtual Disk 3: Database - 5*136 GB with RAID 5 (usable space will be more than 500 GB)

Always you should consider future growth and maintenance also in mind while going for new server environment. Incase if you want to do a Offline defrag then you need 110% of actual database size.

Hope this helps.
>>>> veera.
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Author Comment

by:unicornit
ID: 20427335
Right, thank you, thats very helpful. Annoyingly, we have already create this large RAID 0+1 volume and partitioned it in Windows. And - we installed Exchange! So - how much better would the performance be with your setup do you think? I ask because we will miss our deadline if we do it that way.

Thanks again
Ricky
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Expert Comment

by:Veerappan Sundaram
ID: 20427653
1. If you have lesser capacity system drive, it be a big problem one or the other day.
2. If you have both TLogs and Databases on the same drive (logical & physical), read and write will be slow which will inturn affect user access.
3. Here you have all the partitions on the same RAID which has to server for OS request, Exchange request and user mailbox access request as well.

We have 3000 Mailboxes on a clustered exchange server with 4 Storage Group with 12 Stores - with the similar kind of setup in my previous post. We have additional drive which is completely free for future use or maintenance purposes.

>>>> veera.
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Author Comment

by:unicornit
ID: 20429051
Right, thank you. But we only have x6 136GB disks?
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Veerappan Sundaram earned 500 total points
ID: 20433341
If you can spend more for hardware, go for a Dell PowerVault storage (DAS).
If you are looking for cost effective solution, then you may follow the below setup:
1. Create RAID 1 with 2*136 GB HDDs - Make a partition of 30 GB for system drive (C:) and rest for
    TLogs (L:).
2. Create RAID 5 with 4*136 GB HDDs - use it for Databases. Here you will get only 410 GB usable
    space, but the Disk I/O will be effective for better performance for exchange database.

NOTE: I would suggest to go for more capacity HDDs or for a Power Vault Storage.

Since you bought a new Dell server, you can call Dell support also for suggestions.

>>>> Veera.
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Author Comment

by:unicornit
ID: 20442692
Thanks Veera - I think I will add the DAS later when we get full and use it for additional database drives. Does that sounds like a good plan considering we are on a budget? Also, is there a chance that the logs drive would be too small on a 136GB OS partition? Also, do you always recommend RAID1 for logs and RAID5 for DBs?

thanks
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Expert Comment

by:Veerappan Sundaram
ID: 20443021
Yes. Go ahead with your plan.
Here is the Microsoft Recommendation:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa998499.aspx
Finally it is you who has to decide based on the usable storage, considering budget.

Hope this helps.

>>>> Veera.
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Author Comment

by:unicornit
ID: 20443069
Yes, I have to decide.
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Expert Comment

by:Veerappan Sundaram
ID: 20443265
In the first RAID1 - you will get 136 GB. Say 30 GB for C: drive and rest of 100 GB will be there for Transaction logs.
Here is another link:
http://searchexchange.techtarget.com/tip/0,289483,sid43_gci1195222,00.html

>>>> Veera.
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