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Move C: Drive or Repartition Server?

Our server is critically low on storage space in our C: Drive and is obviously creating performance issues. We are running Windows Server 2003 Small Business Server on a Dell box with 4, 136Gb drives in a RAID-5 array.

Our C: drive has less than 1Gb of storage space available, however we have 264Gb available on our D: drive and another 55Gb available on an F: drive.

What would be the best solution for resolving our storage issue?

Thanks,
-Dave
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dfek
Asked:
dfek
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1 Solution
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I cannot recall ever hearing a LOGICAL explanation as to why a full drive slows a system down.  I've never seen it, so I think it's a popular myth.  Getting too low can be dangerous, but from a performance standpoint - the only probable issue is fragmentation.

That said, I would recommend you review the following link:
http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/bootdrivesize.asp
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TripyreCommented:
download treesizepro and it will show you where you disk space is being used up.  You can try it free for 30-days.

http://www.jam-software.com/treesize/

Once you find where your space is being used, it might be easier to cleanup or relocate such things as page file, logs, mailboxes, shared folders/files, etc.

If you need assistance with that you could post the results of the directory sizes and we could go over it.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
A near to full drive will ofcourse provide you with perfance problems yes. Fragmentation in its own right will cause peformance issues alone.
IF the C: drive and D: drive are physicaly on the same disk AND the partitions are next to each other then try using something like PARAGON disk manager to resize the partitions more in favour of the C: drive.
Alternatively ghost off the C: drive, fit a new large hard disk and ghost your c: drive backonto it with a larger partition size.
 
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amdaxiomCommented:
Performance issues aside 1GB of free space on your server is a little scary as simple things like logfile, windows updates uninstall files, antivirus defs or cache may take up that space before you know.

I would simply repartition your drives.  I've had great success with Acronis Disk Director on servers with no issues.  I've had issues with one of the freeware programs as well as the old partition magic so wouldn't recommend those.  Repartitioning allows you to make your d: drive smaller and your c: drive bigger.
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dfekAuthor Commented:
@Nelisr

I was thinking about ghosting the C: drive but I am not sure how to properly remove the old one. If I were to restore a ghost image of the C; drive onto a new partition would I then be able to simply rename the two drives? What would be the process of having the system recognize the new partition as the C: drive and not some other lettered drive name?

@leew

The link you provided has some excellent information. I am definitely going to start there just to recover some space temporarily. However, I do feel that the partition will eventually have to be moved or expanded. Whoever did the initial setup on this box only allowed 12Gb for the C: drive. This is a small company so the one box is running everything, Domain controller, DNS, App Server, File Server, Print Server, etc. I could be wrong but I see this as an ongoing issue unless I add some more storage to the C: drive.

-Dave
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
If your ghosting onto a new HD then it matters not if the old drive still exists, Just ensure that your new drive is set as the boot partition.
 
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
@neilsr

Can you provide actual logic as to why (other than fragmentation) a largely full drive affects performance, rather than an otherwise unsupported statement.  Links to articles with actual, reproducible test results and the like.

@dfek
DELL is who provided your 12 GB C: drive.  It was a common practice.   If you read the link I posted, can you explain WHY you think this would be an ongoing problem?  It's not for me.  Most of my servers have C: Drives between 10 and 20 GB.  Have had for years.  By putting all data on other partitions, I don't have problems... so why should you (MOST of my servers are Small Business Servers which do everything as well...)
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
You can easily reallocate space from adjacent partition to C: drive with the help of partitioning tool. You can use either open source Parted Magic 4: www.partedmagic.com or use commercial tool such as Paragon Partition Manager 10 Server: www.partition-manager.com
Sometimes it brings much relief when you have 20-30GB size C: partition. So take your chance.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
By the way, it's your question and your network - you'll do what you want to... I'm asking/responding with the intent of relaying my experience and opinion.  My questions back to you are simply meant to encourage you to look at things from a different perspective.  In the link I provided, if you read the first part, it asks what takes up the space and if you think about it - and practice just a little bit of maintenance, why would you need more space?  I see little reason to have large C: drives and to take the risk of expanding them when doing so is a NON-ZERO chance of causing serious harm to the system.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
@leew
First and foremost the most obvious one AFTER fragmentation is defragmentation. With a very full hard drive you cant :D
Secondly having a full drive implies that you are doing a lot with it. More programs accessing the same drive = massively more seeks/head movements = slower access speeds.
Any server that demands performance should have more than one physical drive to spread the load.
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GISCOOBYDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
I ran in to this exact problem with an SBS 2003 on a Dell machine. In my instance, I used Paragon Partition Manager and reduced the size of D: and extended the C: partition. Using Paragon the downtime was minimal (it goes into a temporary OS to make the partition changes). I have since repartitioned a number of machines from Dell where the OEM OS is partitioned into a small region of the drive.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
@leew
"I see little reason to have large C: drives and to take the risk of expanding them when doing so is a NON-ZERO chance of causing serious harm to the system."
How so?
You ghost the drive off, you ghost it onto a new HD, you reboot and your done. IF the new HD is faulty/ bad immage/whatever, you take it out and your old one is intact and ready to boot!
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
@Neilsr

I'll be more clear then - by fragmentation, I meant both file fragmentation slows it down and having a very full drive makes defragmentation difficult (all my systems have at least 25% free space on C: - which is 10% more than is required as a minimum for successful defragmentation.

> Secondly having a full drive implies that you are doing a lot with it.
> More programs accessing the same drive = massively more
> seeks/head movements = slower access speeds.

Yes, if you're doing more with the drive, it slows it down... BUT... I consider it a weak argument at best since you could be doing constant writes and deletes to a drive and NEVER COME CLOSE to filling it and still have the same performance issue.  And you could have a drive that stores software for installation over the network and is accessed once a week at best but uses many GB of space.  How is THAT slowing you down, realistically?  It would require the same activity whether the drive was 95% full or 5% full.

> Any server that demands performance should have more
> than one physical drive to spread the load.

I completely agree - but that has nothing to do with space utilization.  I've frequently posted that additional drives - even non-RAIDed drives for less critical functions - can greatly increase performance (for example, putting VSS on a separate set of spindles along with the pagefile).  

> How so?

YOUR plan is not bad and definitely a preferred way. HOWEVER, there are flaws.  It requires software which could be costly (since you need a server version, since I know you don't want to violate licensing), and a second set of drives (you ARE going to do this with RAID, right?  This is a server...)  Not to mention the time to do this and the cloning.

By changing your management of the drive a little, you can do this without serious interruption to users and probably in 30-60 minutes of time per year.
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
@leew (Again ;) )
I was answering directly to the question. Your arguments about what if it did this, what if it was only doing that are pointless. The question clearly states is an SBS 2003 server so we know more or less what apps are running what performance impacts that will have. That is what I was addressing, what was asked. Not what some other sysadmin might be doing with a server that he uses to install software over a network.
End of my input, this is to help questioners not to flame eachother.
N.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I'm sorry you feel that way.

I don't believe they are pointless.

I'm trying to correct a misunderstanding - and if I'm wrong, I'm asking for someone to provide evidence (I've been wrong before - there's simply too much to know in IT to know it all).
> Our server is critically low on storage space in our C: Drive and is obviously creating performance issues.

I have disagreed and on behalf of the asker, I've asked someone to provide evidence.  I've not seen any reasonable evidence yet that the above statement is true with current technology.  This is, in my opinion, an important part of the question.
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TripyreCommented:
I always see wasted space on C: drives becuase there is no clean up.  Why go through all through the hassle of resizing the C: partition or ghosting it when a little clean up or relocating files could resolve your issue?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
My point exactly!
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dfekAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone for all of your feekback.

I think for now I'll try offloading as much as possible from the C: to the D: partition and do some general cleanup since that will be the most cost effective solution for the time being without having to purchase any partitioning software. I'd give the open source apps a go but I am definitely still pretty green in this area and am at least smart enough not to try something like that on our only server without having a solid understanding of the full process.

@leew

Hopefully you are correct and the general maintenance will be enough to constantly have sufficient storage space. I would rather not run the risk of a corrupt backup or failed repartition if I can simply get away with just cleaning things up. Again, I have been reading of the info in the link you provided and have found it to be extremely helpful. Thanks!
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TripyreCommented:
@dfek

Treesize pro can be installed on a workstation and just access the c: drive remotely through FQDN (\\servername\c$)  All it does is show you where your space is allocated, how many files and which folders are your space hogs.  install it on your PC and give it a whirl.  I would be happy to look at the results if you were to upload them.
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