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PAE memory support on Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition

Posted on 2012-04-02
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Last Modified: 2012-04-11
I have 15 users on my Windows 2003 32 bit terminal server and it only has 4 GB's of RAM.  Ever since upgrading to Office 2007 the server will lock up.. It will run for 2-3 weeks before this happens.  Prior to it crashing to notice that the memory allocation is at 5.3 GB's of RAM.. So..  I guess it's safe to say that I need more RAM.  Now, as I understand I can performa an inplace upgrade to Windows 2003 Enterprise 32 bit and utilize PAE which in return will utilize the 8 GB's of RAM I plan to allocate to this server.  With that said...  Will PAE allow all my applcations to use up my  8 GB's of RAM or does the application have to be designed for PAE and only that application will utilize anything after 4 GB's?
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Question by:gopher_49
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 500 total points
ID: 37798472
The issue is really the OS, Windows NT was poor, Windows 2000 got better, Windows 2003, had more tweaks, but the real issue is the processes accessing the shared 2GB of kernel memory.

Adding the PAE switch to Windows 2003 Enterprise versions will not cure the issue, because it's a 32 bit processor accessing 32-bit memory space. Each process still has the 2GB virtual address space, and kernel address space is stil, at 2GB, just as on a non-PAE system.

I would recommending creating a new Windows 2003 Server and splitting the load.

or have you tried a nightly restart procedure? We restart all our Terminal Server/Citrix Servers in large farms, daily, and stage reboots between 1am - 4am in large farms.

The memory leakage in applications can cause this issues.

or upgrade to Windows 2008 R2, but your applications, could possibly have compatibility issues with new server versions and 64 bit.
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by:gopher_49
ID: 37798555
I thought about doing load balancing across two servers..  I have a quick step document on it..  I think that might be my best bet.  We have a spare license of win2003 Standard..  2008 is pretty expensive...  I would do the reboot procedure but my users never remember to log off...    Maybe I should do both...
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LVL 117
ID: 37798582
If you have spare license go for it
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by:gopher_49
ID: 37804578
Also,

Currently my terminal server VM has 4 GB's of RAM.  Should I add the /3GB switch?
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by:gopher_49
ID: 37804585
From what I can tell this will possibly make it worse for the /3GB switch is best for intense SQL and Exchange environments.. I guess the best thing I can do is to reply two terminal servers using 4 GB's of physical RAM in each of them...
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LVL 117
ID: 37805045
Correct, scale out, this was always the issue with Windows Terminal Server, on Windows 2003 32 bit, also User Hive and  System Hive size have their limitations but you should not hit that with so few users. Also if this VM is running under a hypervisor, it's also not surprising you are having these issues, as the Hypervisor "sucks" up the CPU. Performance of concurrent users on under a  Hypervisor, is poor when compared to a physical TS server.
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