Network file access

Hi there,

I've recently was called by a friend saying that the new network he built was not responding as it should because when trying to open a file on the server it was taking too long to do it, and wanted to know what should he do to speed up this network access. I said that he should do some upgrades to is server in memory, disk space and processor, but he says he as a good server, so what can be a solution to is server.His current setup is as follows:

20 iMacs running adobe suite ( with adobe incopy and etc...) accessing files thru a 100mbps cat5 network, on a hp server with 16Gb RAM and 300Gb disk running windows server 2008 R2 with only one dual core processor.

What i want to know is what can be done to speed up the file access to simultanious users over the LAN.
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Darius GhassemCommented:
First you want to disable IPv6 on the Windows 2008 Server this will speed up the MACs access since I don't believe MACs by default install IPv6.

Second disable any unused NICs on the Windows 2008 Server.

Make sure Netbios over TCP\IP enabled within the TCP\IP properties on Windows 2008 Server.

Enable Computer Browser service as well.

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Darren SharplesSystems SpecialistCommented:
if its only a file server I would firstly check the duplex/speed settings on all the nics in the network are set the same
Darius GhassemCommented:
One more think make sure Network card drivers and firmware are updated.
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You could consider moving to a GigaBit network, which would definetly improve the speed of the network. If you have 20 macs all accessing large adobe files, you may want to consider the speed of the hard drives in the servers as well. It may be time to consider using 10k or 15k SATA or SCSI drives to improve the data throughput.

If neither of these options work, is it possible that the machines themeselves are the speed issue?

Also, you said that he built the "network". What exactly did your friend do?

WindindiAuthor Commented:
Why do you think that disabling IPv6 will speed up the network access
Becaise it removes a layer of complexity and traffic running around the network that isnt being used.

Darius GhassemCommented:
If the MAC computers are not using IPv6 then resolving could take longer. You could change the binding order but since you are not using Exchange or IPv6 network then there is no need for this to be installed.
WindindiAuthor Commented:
D nev,

The server as already 10k disks and the iMacs all have at least 2gb RAM and 4ghz processors, when i say "built" means he did all the cabling and patching and rack mounting and all the configurations
Gotcha. Then ya, Gigabit network access using Cat6 cabling would be the next step.
WindindiAuthor Commented:
But changing it to cat6 would require more money and i don't think he can afford to spend more money at the moment, i also had talk to him about the cat 6 but what he needs his a solution for is current setup
He could go around the office and verify that all the cable runs are working properly with a cable tester. This would eliminate the possiblilty that there is a bad cable that's causing alot of traffic issues. He could also make sure that the patch cables are good from the wall to each machine. Then he can do the simple stuff like removing the AntiVirus software on the server (for testing purposes) to see if that's slowing down access to the files. He can run a defrag to see if that improves things. He can re-boot everything on the network.

Any of these wont cost anything.
And technically, you can run Gigabit on Cat5e, so you would just need to upgrade the switch and any of the network cards that dont currently support Gigabit. Since iMac's aren't exactly upgrade friendly, you may have to look into how this can be done (assuming the iMac's dont already have a Gigabit ethernet card from the factory).
Darius GhassemCommented:
Again I don't think this is a hardware issue or physical issue at all this is a configuration issue.
Gotcha, then I would love to see if there any errors or indications in the event logs on the server that may indicate another issue.

He might want to try running something like
to see what kinds of speeds you are getting. This is PC only, so a laptop or windows based PC would be needed.

Again, he might want to try the other things i mentioned before we continue.
Darius GhassemCommented:
If my above solution doesn't work then you can move on to the TCP Checksum and Offloads that could be causing the issue as well.

Make sure you go to the Network Card properties click Advance Tab disable any Offloads listed here as well reboot server.
100Mbps / 8 = 12.5MB/sec

That's slow.  Divide that between 20 users, and you get less than 1MB/sec.

1. Upgrade to a fast Gigbit Ethernet switch.

2. Test all cables to be sure they'll support 1000BT.  Put printers on the ones that don't.  Workstations on the ones that will.  In a pinch, put a small desktop GigE switch on one port and share it between 2-3 computers.  You'll never notice the difference with a single HDD machine.

3. If your core switch supports it, implement a LAG so that your server can use 2x1GbE NICs to connect to the switch.  You'll have plenty more bandwidth than you have I/O on the storage.

4. Speed up your storage.  Ditch RAID5 for RAID10.  Use 10K or 15K drives and battery-backed cache on the RAID controller.

Those are all basic parts of building the network.  Cat5e should be fine for 1000BaseT.  I've used it for many years, and I'm sitting on a laptop right now with Cat5e patch cables and infrastructure (including patch panel).  I move files as fast as my hard drive can spin.  The server is RAID10.  I work on large Photoshop and InDesign files over the network.  For Premiere projects, I work locally, then copy up to the server in one batch.
OK...maybe not quite as fast as my hard drive can spin.  But decent enough to transfer a 3TB file in a few ticks over a minute.

Notebook: Win7 w/single GigE NIC + 500GB 7.2K SATA
From this same notebook, internal SATA to ESATA will transfer up to 60-80MB/sec.  50MB/sec if copying the file to itself.

Same transfer over the network:
Server: 2008(SBS) w/ single GigE NIC enabled
 RAID10 w/ 4x 10K U320 = 30 MB/sec
 RAID10 w/ 6x 7.2K SATA =  54 MB/sec
In his last comment, he's looking for any solution that doesnt need more investment. Looks like we're stuck until he can run through the tests mentioned above.
Replacing brand new Cat5e (assumed working) with Cat6 would be a ridiculous investment.

Investing in a Gigabit switch is a necessity if you want more than a few MB per sec in file transfers.

On a budget, you can get a GigE dumb switch.  Ditch the LAG idea.

You've got 10x the bandwidth for $300.  No change to wiring or NICs.

$300 is the cost of two network drops.  Since there are 20 that were just run...there should be some money somewhere.
WindindiAuthor Commented:
I finally convinced him and he bought a new server and configured it with the tips above selected plus with an increase in each pc's RAM except the cat6 change and things are working faster than before, thanks and sorry for the delay
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