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2003 Server, SP2 Enterprise Edition, High CPU utilization, Virtual Memory Settings

Posted on 2011-10-26
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I need to know the best way to change the Virtual Memory on this server:
I'm working on a server that is experiencing High CPU utilization. Original config 2003 Server, SP2 Enterprise Edition.  On a ESX 3.5 vsphere 4.1/Vcenter.  This server is hosting a FoxPro Database.  Two Hard Drives are one C: 20GB and E: 20GB.   8GB of Ram.  After doing some trouble shooting I noticed while checking the recommended settings for this problem the following:  Virtual Memory allocation is set to C: Initial MB size is 2092 and Max MB size is 3092 and the E: drive is set to Initial 4092 and Max is 4092.  
I just expanded the c: to 40GB being that it only had 2GB of free space; and now has 20GB of free space.  Attached is a screenshot of the settings.
New config on Clone of production machine: Now that I have plenty of space on the C: should I now set the Virtual Memory to 1.5 times the physical (VMram) which is 6GB now; and match the initial size with the Max size as recommended for clustered machines and database servers?
VirtualMemSetting.png
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Question by:vitengineering
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serchlop earned 336 total points
ID: 37034296
Hi have made test about this configuration and I discover that the best configuration for virtual machines is to let the operating system to administer the virtual memory, but you can make your test to.
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by:pcelba
pcelba earned 1000 total points
ID: 37034514
Swapping to the page file is a nightmare on a server because it slows everything down... You should avoid swapping as much as possible and use more RAM if needed...

If you have a page file on the computer then it should be on a contiguous space without fragmentation. RAID 5 drive is also not good target. Thus to create a page file of the fixed size is always better at the early stage of the computer installation because to find contiguous space is difficult later.

The file size itself isn't as important so if you set it 1 or 1.5 times the RAM size is irrelevant.

A memory consumption by the FoxPro database on the server depends on the way how it is hosted. If it is just DBF files storage then the memory needed is marginal.
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by:CaptainCyril
CaptainCyril earned 332 total points
ID: 37034995
If you just moved to a new server I would check the following:

1) Make sure all DBF files are reindexed. You can also verify that to see if there is too much disk activity on FoxPro files along with the CPU utilization
2) Make sure the anti-virus is not playing a hindering role. Try disabling it and see if there is a difference.
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Author Comment

by:vitengineering
ID: 37037765
Hi serchlop: and pcelba:, If I let the OS manage the Virtual Memory is it ok to just change this setting and reboot the server?  Do I have to manually delete any paging files it created or does this go away after I make the changes?  Also I cloned this server so I'm performing these tests in a test cloned environment first and then I will change the production box.

Some History on this FoxPro (2003 Enterprise Edition Service Pack 2) server:  When someone built this server originally they P2Vd a few years back after having problems with High CPU utilization on a physical box.  They gave the VM 4 vCPUs for a while and turned off Hyperthreading as it says inactive now.  
I changed the vCPUs down to one now and reduced the RAM to 6GB for now.  Also as mentioned I expanded the c: another 20GB giving it that much free space.  Also I performed a MS defrag on the C: as it was fragmented.
I’m trying to get it to perform better for now.  I will provide more detail as I make more change and implement what you recommend.
Also CaptainCyril:, I will work on your recommendations for the FoxPro database as I clean up the OS level and provide feedback as well.  Thanks all.
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Expert Comment

by:SysExpert
ID: 37040348
I would also check what RAM foxpro can use since it may be limited to a 32 bit memory ( 4 GB ) unless it supports PAE and then you will need the /PAE switch

Also if nothing else is running on this then use the /3GB switch in the boot.ini and that will probably free up 1 GB of RAM

I hope this helps !
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Author Comment

by:vitengineering
ID: 37040535
Hi SysExpert: I haven't worked on the foxpro side of things yet as I never worked with this type of database server.  I've only worked with administering AD, Exchange and I'm a VMware systems admin.  I would like to try and get this OS, Virtual Memory/paging and HD fragmentation fixed first.  This VM is on its on ESX 3.5 host which has 4 processor Sockets 2 cors per socket and 8 Logical Processors and Has 32GB of RAM.  On the production system we have 8GB of RAM allocated to this VM.  On my cloned tested version I was able to reduce the RAM down to 6GB just to play around with the Virtual Memory.  Do you know if I take serchlop: tip from the above post and let MS OS manage the Virtual Memory/paging that It would be better.  And if I can just make the change and just reboot the machine, would I have to delete the already existing paging files first?  Please see history of this server in the above posts.  I will eventually get the production server back down to 1 vCPU like I did the test box.
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Expert Comment

by:pcelba
ID: 37043738
If you let OS to manage the virtual memory then everything you must do is to reboot. OS will create/delete the page file if necessary.

Memory utilised by FoxPro depends on the application type. FoxPro can work as a file server database or as COM+ component in single threaded or multithreaded mode.
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Author Comment

by:vitengineering
ID: 37044904
Hi pcelba:  Can I manually delete the old paging file just in case they are corrupt or fragmented?
Also you said > "RAID 5 drive is also not good target."  I will have to see what they have it on.  I think we have to manually set the Virtual Memory as we need it for dumps.   If we do manually set it should we do the 1.5 X the RAM and if so is there a max as we may keep the production VM at 8GB?  I read it's best to put it on a separate HD; in this case a separate vHD.  Perhaps set the c: to 20mb and max at 20MB like a video showed for an XP box and then the higher recommended settings for the other HD.  Let me know what you think.  We will get to the FoxPro part soon.  Thanks again
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Assisted Solution

by:pcelba
pcelba earned 1000 total points
ID: 37045011
To recognize old or new page file is not possible. There is just one which is in use by OS and its deletion is impossible.

If you have virtual drive then you cannot affect its usage and fragmentation, so all results of your attempts to fix something are also virtual... Simply test different sizes of the page file and use the one with better results.

RAID 5 is slow on write operations. Page file on RAID 5 is not good idea.

To extend the RAM by extending the page file size is possible BUT everything on the page file is 100 times slower than in physical RAM and you should think about more RAM, faster CPU etc.
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Author Comment

by:vitengineering
ID: 37045293
HI pcelba:  I know that no matter how much ram I give it (30GB) of Ram or more Microsoft boxes still uses Virtual Memory according to most articles I read.  Did you find this to be the case in your past experience?  
Do you know if there is a Max setting that you can allocate with Virtual Memory/paging?
Also, is it true that you can’t collect a dump file if you don’t manually set the Virtual Memory/paging?
To keep you up to date on what was done so far:  I did a defrag of the C: using the Microsoft tools successfully on the Cloned test VM.  Not successful on the E: as we will have to tackle this later as this is where the FoxPro database is kept.  Can running the Microsoft Defrag tool ruin anything with the FoxPro server like it can with the older Exchange 5.5 boxes etc.,?
Thanks again for all of your help.  I greatly appreciate it.
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Assisted Solution

by:pcelba
pcelba earned 1000 total points
ID: 37045424
Yes, it is known problem. The missing page file will always result in "Insufficient memory" error in some programs independently on the RAM size.

You may allocate the whole free disk area as the maximum. The maximum is, of course, dependent on CPU and OS used.

Defrag tool did not ruin anything on my computers but Microsoft recommends to create a backup before defragmentation... But defrag of the clonned drive has no direct influence to the disk speed. The drive can be represented by fragmented file on the physical drive. If it is created on the RAID drive then the access to data is even more complicated. OTOH each modern disk has its own data access optimization etc. etc.

Result: you should increase the virtual memory on clonned drive if the system is running low on memory only. Bur you should rather think about physical resources if it happens.
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Assisted Solution

by:SysExpert
SysExpert earned 332 total points
ID: 37048223
Enough rAm is very important. Most OS's today do not need any virtual paging since ram is cheap.

It is true tat you need yo have 1.x pagefile size if you want a dump file, but i have never had to use one in 20 user in an IT environment.

I normally set the server page file to 1 GB fixed on machine that run 1 - 8 GB of ram, but i am monitoring RAM and pagefile usage to tweak as needed.
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Author Comment

by:vitengineering
ID: 37056877
Good Morning SysExpert:, pcelba: and all,  I think it's best to do what all of you recommended by letting the OS manage it for now and tackle any memory leaks and driver/patch updates that may be sparking this high CPU utilization.  It may be best to build a new machine and somehow migrate the FoxPro database over.  I will check with the admin of this box and see if he is familiar enough with the steps to take.  What tool is the best tool to check for memory leaks in your opinion?  Also bring the original VM back down to 1 vCPU??  Thanks again and I will update you again as soon as I get some more info.
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Author Comment

by:vitengineering
ID: 37056879
SysExpert: PS, you meant 20 years right??
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