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Poor System Performance - After 2nd Opinions as to why this is (I have my own ideas)!

Hardware is:

HP ML310 G5 with 2.0Gb RAM
4 x 250Gb SATA HDD's Configured for RAID 1 in Windows (2 disks for OS and 2 disks for Data)
CPU is a 2.33GHz Xeon 3065 (Dual Core)

Software is:
Windows Small Business Server 2003 SP2
Exchange 2003 SP2

25 User Licenses installed - 19 maximum usage (so you know how many users there are using the server)

Issues:
Users on site where the server is located are complaining that Exchange reports "retrieving data from the server" regularly.

Also they are saying that when they are navigating through the server folders it is slow and hangs frequently.

Thoughts as to why this is please (I have my ideas and am after ideas from the Community as to why this might be so I can present the ideas to the customer (fairly new to us), so that it is not just my ideas as to why).

Thanks in advance.

Alan
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Alan Hardisty
Asked:
Alan Hardisty
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5 Solutions
 
setasoujiroCommented:
the raid 1 would be my first guess, since you have SATA and not SAS disks...
also from what i understand is that you have 2 raid1 volumes?
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
Hi setasoujiro,

Thanks for your reply.  Please explain why you think what you think.

You are correct with the 2 RAID 1 volumes.  C: drive and D: drive on one pair of mirrored disks and Data on another pair (see attached image).
Disk-Configuration.png
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setasoujiroCommented:
Because sata disk is only 7200rpm (standard) compared to sas which go from 10000 to 15000.

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setasoujiroCommented:
I'm assuming your network is healthy and well
You should have a look at:
Disk IO
memory usage
disk queue length
and pagefile usage
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setasoujiroCommented:
Also from the screenshot i see you are using Windows to handle the RAID?
why don't you use the raid controller from the server itself?
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the clarification.

Here is a screen dump of perfmon (standard settings) from earlier.
Perfmon.png
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
"Also from the screenshot i see you are using Windows to handle the RAID?
why don't you use the raid controller from the server itself?"


That was the question that I asked myself when I first saw the way the server was configured and looked up the specs to see that RAID-1 is available on the disk controller!!!!!!
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setasoujiroCommented:
I see several spikes in your cpu and the disk queue seems to spike as well...
Is this problem new, or has it always been there?
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
Not sure how long the server has been like this as we only recently took over the support, but I would imagine that it has been this way for quite some time.

When the CPU seems to spike - so does the Disk Queue and Pages/Sec
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setasoujiroCommented:
So you inhereted the machine, nice :)
I would look and see if there is any program hogging cpu or whatever, disable anything unnecessary , i see your tray has quite some icons :)

and then go from there first.

Also , are there any usefull logs?
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
To add to the mix - there is a Terminal Services Server on the network and that is running Windows 2003 with 2.0Gb RAM also and has about half a dozen users.

All users have folder redirection set to their Home Directory (on the SBS server).
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
Here are the Processes sorted by RAM usage (highest to lowest):
Processes.png
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Glen KnightCommented:
My instant thoughts are down to the fact you are using software RAID.

Software RAID is rubbish performance wise at the best of times.

But throw in SBS (Domain Controller & Exchange) and the fact you have Terminal Services on a DC!!! That's a recipe for disaster.

Also, when one of those hard disk fails and you have a powercut or the power is taken then you are in a whole world of hurt.  Because it's software RAID the operating system needs to be up and running when you swap the disk over.
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Glen KnightCommented:
Oh wait, TS isn't on the same server.  :)
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setasoujiroCommented:
as i said before i think your problem is the raid and the problem is there from the beginning, and has been building.
there are no apps using excessive amount of resources, but the soft raid + exchange is a problem imo
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
Thanks for everyone's input.  I want to leave this open a little longer to get other opinions (hopefully), even if they are to agree with the thoughts so far (this isn't going to be a Best Solution question - so all answers are relevant).

Do you all think that another 2.0Gb of RAM would be helpful?
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setasoujiroCommented:
there is no amount of rm that can fix the problem you face, the best option imo, would be to make an image of the server and then start from scratch with a raid5 using the controller.
I know this is probably not an option...
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
RAID-5 isn't available on the controller and I know RAM won't fix the problem, but it might improve things slightly.

It has been built by an idiot with little IT knowledge - that is clear, but the customer is a charity and no doubt can't afford to have the server rebuilt (properly) by me.
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setasoujiroCommented:
I see, then I would say no... ram won't help but yu're free to try :)
i would explain to thr client that he's living on the ege (software raid etc) and it will be more expensive to rebuild when it fails then do it proactive...
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Glen KnightCommented:
More RAM won't help much.  

The problem is that Windows is actually doing the work of mirroring the disks.  That's what is slowing it down
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
Well - for £30 for another 2Gb, it can't hurt performance, but I know the server was doomed the minute I saw the Software RAID and fell off my chair when I saw that hardware RAID-1 was available on-board.

How to take it forward is going to be interesting.

Might discuss a migration to SBS 2011 with them - funds permitting :)
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Glen KnightCommented:
Indeed.

You may actually find breaking the mirror will improve performance.

For the good you are getting from the redundancy it may be worth it!!
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setasoujiroCommented:
if i were you, i would buy atleast 4GB extra, and then virtualise the SBS 2011 on esxi , if you can pinch out the bufget :)
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Glen KnightCommented:
Hmm, I wonder if I have some 310 G5 RAM.  Will Che k for you when I get back from Barca!
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Glen KnightCommented:
The ML310 G5 will only support 8GB and 2003 will only support 4 (if your lucky).  So little point in adding more than 2 more.

If your buying a new server then that's a different story...Alan, you already know my thought on that one ;-)
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
Glen - just how much RAM have you got tucked away in your cupboards?  (It takes DDR2 PC2-6400).

@setasoujiro - Don't know esxi but I do know Hyper-V and would use that if push came to shove.

Will discuss the issues with the customer and see what comes out in the wash.
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Glen KnightCommented:
I've got a tray full of the stuff :-)
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Don S.Commented:
I have a ML310 with mirrored SATA drives and it is basically dog slow - always has been.  More memory helped a little but the bottle neck is doing transactional processing (SQL server or Exchange server) on the SATA disks.  I have some newer ML350s with SATA disks and a caching array card in front of the disks and it is much better.  Not any where near as good as SCSI or SAS drives but better with the array controller.  I've proposed insalling an array controller in the ML310 but the customer doesn't want to go through the time and expense of rebuilding the server (putting an array controller in will cause the drives to lose all data when they are configured in the hardware array).  My experience is that memory is cheap and easy but only does so much.  An array controller will make the SATA disk livable.
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
Hi dons6718,

Is your ML310 mirrored in Software or Hardware?
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Don S.Commented:
Ah that is an interesting question.  It is mirrored at the Bios level - but it turns out in the ML310 that it is really in a sort of software shim that runs on the processor at a lower level than the OS.  So the answer is yes or no or both.  From the OS point of view, it doesn't know about the mirroring.
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Alan HardistyAuthor Commented:
Thanks folks - mirrored my thoughts exactly :)
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