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Spike in Pages/Sec followed by 100% Avg Disk Queue Causes Server Slowdown

Posted on 2008-06-26
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Last Modified: 2013-11-10
Hello,

I have a customer (SBS 2003) that has been complaining of network-wide
problems. When I go to the server during one of these episodes, the server
will quit responding temporarily.

I have seemed to determine that when this is happening, there is a spike in
pages/sec, and then Avg. Disk Queue Length counter goes to 100% for a number
of minutes. According to my research, including KB article 139609, this may
not be a memory related problem because available memory seems to remain
normal. The KB article suggests that there could be an application that is
writing data that might be causing this problem, possibly database. How do I
determine what is causing these problems, and what are some actions I can
take to rectify them?

Thanks for your help in advance!
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Question by:dempsedm
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Expert Comment

by:KCTS
ID: 21876568
Check the page file size and that the max and min sizes are the same - it could be a result of windows having to extend the size of the page file. Ideally it should be 1.5x actual memory
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Expert Comment

by:danengle
ID: 21876795
Check the amount of physical memory versus total.  That definintely sounds like some form of heavy page file operation.  I have a work pc with 1gig of ram and when that is taken up, the machine freezes with solid disk activity while the machine flushes various memory chunks to the pagefile.  The whole time available total memory is plenty.

check the memory usage of all applications.  It could be one app is using a large amount forcing other apps to be pushed to the pagefile.
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Author Comment

by:dempsedm
ID: 22038571
So I ended up booting in safe mode, no problems.  I used msconfig to narrow down services and startup items, and thought I had narrowed it down to a non-system critical process.  Everything ran great for two weeks or so, then we started having similar problems again from our backup software.  The pages/sec never really decreased but the Avg Disk Queue was back to normal after sometimes averaging up 100++ with sustained Queues of over 1000 at some points.  I disabled the backups for now, and it seems to be back to normal, but obviously, we can't keep it like that.  They were running before for a while without problems.  I don't get it.
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Accepted Solution

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danengle earned 500 total points
ID: 22521005
Have you figured out the issue?  Any new information?  Unfortunately, so many variables exist that could cause this issue -- dying drives causing slower write/read times, a microsoft hotfix that causes issues, antivirus or other security programs causing slowdowns, and on and on -- that it can be very difficult to track down the exact cause.  
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Expert Comment

by:danengle
ID: 22743264
It's hard to say how points should be rewarded. I'd say split it up amongst KCTS and I.
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Author Comment

by:dempsedm
ID: 22816629
At first it appeared to be a windows related service.  After some more fiddling, it was a directory monitoring feature that was enabled in the data backup software.  The data backup software has since been modified with the new settings.  Sorry I left you guys hanging.  Thanks for your help.

-d
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Author Closing Comment

by:dempsedm
ID: 31471057
Thanks!
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