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Best practice to using raid with filemaker database

Posted on 2013-01-18
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Last Modified: 2013-01-29
We are planning to improve our database speed by improving our disk systems to a raid system.
For the raid controller, we have purchased an Areca raid card.
The database used is Filemaker, on windows server.

My question is:
1. To take max advantage of the raid card, how should I setup the raid?
2. Should the filemaker program and windows be on the same raid array?
3. Which is more important to use under raid? The os, the db program, or the data?
Thank you
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Question by:SW111
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Expert Comment

by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 38795304
This information was found in the Best Tractices KB of FileMaker

Use RAID: Regardless of the disk subsystem you choose, the disk subsystem should be configured to support RAID. RAID technology provides increased storage functions and reliability through data redundancy by combining multiple disk drives and distributing data across those drives using a technique called “striping.” “Striping” segments logically sequential data, such as a file, so that read and write requests of the file are made to different physical storage devices.
 
When it comes to RAID, there are various “RAID levels” to consider. FileMaker, Inc. recommends RAID 5 or RAID 1+0 for use with your FileMaker solutions and FileMaker Server.
http://help.filemaker.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/9645/kw/raid

Since they recommend Raid, it appears the Raid configuration they recommend most is Raid5.  You didn't mention the Areca model# or the O/S you will use.

If it's on a server, we normaly install Raid1 (mirrored) drives for the O/S and Raid5 for the data drives.

If it's a desktop and you still have the budget for additional drives, the same configuration mentioned above is still the best.

Hope this helps!
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Author Comment

by:SW111
ID: 38795322
I dont have the Areca model we've purchased with me right now. But we will be using windows server 7.
I will be using raid 10, as the guide suggest.

However what the guide didnt say is that (I've read the guide previously) where to install filemaker server and where to put the db file:

1. Fm server on same partition with windows.
2. Fms on same partition with the db file
3. Or all of them together on the same partition.

Can I ask if you are using filemaker or something else?
Thanks
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Expert Comment

by:Andrej Pirman
ID: 38795330
I went to Filemaker web site, but I could not find relevant information so quickly, so here are general answers:

1. To take max advantage of the raid card, how should I setup the raid?
A: The more "spindles" (disks) you have, faster it gets, and on the other side, less parity to calculate, faster it is. So the fastest in general is RAID 10 array with 4 or more disks.

2. Should the filemaker program and windows be on the same raid array?
3. Which is more important to use under raid? The os, the db program, or the data?
A: These two go together. As program isteslf it is the same as windows itself - none of them are essential to be installed or located on fast disk array to RUN fast. Of course, if they are, they will START faster, but how fast they RUN after start, relies on other factors:
- a lot of RAM is essential, so that virtual memory on disk is not used
- you must configure windows and application STRATCH folder locations to be located on fest disk array, so that all the caching is done to and from FAST disks
For example, configure Windows Environment path to TMP folder to be located on fast F:\TEMP filder on RAID array, instead of default C:\TEMP Do the same for other TEMP environment variables
- put windows Paging File to fast RAID disk and set it's size manually

Don't know for Filemaker, but look at it and find, where temporary files are created. This location is essential to be on fast disk array.


As an alternative, you may search eBay for FUSION ioDrive, refurbished or used ultra fast PCIe SSD card. I found some of these with 320 GB capacity for 1500 US$ with 3 years warranty left. With such a card you get speed of ultra super SSD on RAID 10...or even better.

Another altenrative is simply put in SSD disk, which will be faster as mechanical 7.200 rpm SATA disks in any RAID array.
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Expert Comment

by:Andrej Pirman
ID: 38795334
Also look into Filemaker INI file or settings, if they mention some TEMP foileder or STRATCH disk location, or database LOG file - this is to be located on RAID 10 array.

If you have room left, won't do any harm if FM database is also on fast RAID array.
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Author Comment

by:SW111
ID: 38795342
I did buy 6 intel ssd card to be used under raid10. Have also obtained setup recommendation for filemaker server from manufacturer. But what they didnt say is whether I should focus the raid on the OS, the application or the data.

The guides says disk subsystem is most important and ram is not so important. In any case, will use tha maximum 4gb anyways since we're using 32bit.
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Author Comment

by:SW111
ID: 38795432
Lasby, so is it correct to conclude that increasing the speed of the disk the program is on is more important than the actual file itself?
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Expert Comment

by:Will Loving
ID: 38795591
I do not have direct recent experience with using a RAID with FM Server, but in the 20+ years I've been using and developing with FileMaker what I've always heard in general is that because Filemaker is extremely disk intensive, spindle speed makes a big difference. Developers deploying or consulting on large databases with many simultaneous users will often recommend 10,000 or 15,000 rpm drives, sometimes in a striped RAID. This type of drive is expensive but in most cases does not need to be particularly large because of even large databases are usually dwarfed by modern drive capacities. In many cases a 100-200GB drive might be sufficient especially if backup is being done (properly) to another drive.

Some years ago, before higher speed drives with readily available, we would create a RAM Disk, a partitioned section of the available RAM the mounted on the desktop. On startup, the databases would be copied to the RAM disk and run from there, very very quickly, not unlike using an SSD today. You may find that using SSDs or the suggestion Fusion drives gives you what you need.

I recommend you do some tests with various drive configurations before committing yourself to what may be overkill. You don't indicate how the assessment came about to use RAID, what the size of the databases is or what the expected load/number of users is, but all that needs to be taken into consideration when deciding on the drive system to be used.
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Author Comment

by:SW111
ID: 38795835
Yes, you are spot on on the size of hdd needed. Our db is not that big. I think is less than 5gb. There are 2 db. But both are relatively small. Which is why I opted for ssd drives.
The hardware has already been purchased. It is now a matter of finishing the job.

Raid decision comes about from the exact document you referred to above. We have currently about 30 concurrent users in multiple location via vpn. Our fm developer recommends that we upgrade the hardware. Being smb operator, my IT knowledge is pretty basic and self taught. So I follow guides, one of which is the above link. I've also purchased a 10gb NIC that will be trunked to increase bandwidth. So right now I wanted to make sure that disk subsystem will not be the weak link.

I cant foresee doing much trials on this as I neither have the time and expertise to run proper benchmarks. Users will also be effected if I try different config in live system. So I hope to follow the best recommendation I can get before starting to assemble the hardware and setting up the system.

However I do not know yet what I should setup the raid structure to be.
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by:Will Loving
ID: 38796825
RAID has two primary attributes: 1) increased speed due to parallel disk writes and 2) redundancy in case of drive failure.

RAID Level 0 (striping) will give you speed but no redundancy
RAID Level 1 (mirroring) will give you redundancy but no speed increase
RAID Level 5 (stripe with parity) will give you speed and redundancy through a "Parity" function
RAID 0+1 - will give you speed and redundancy through both striping and mirroring but at a cost of additional drives, e.g. four 300GB drives yields 600GB of storage.
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Expert Comment

by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 38833229
Has your question been answered?
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Author Comment

by:SW111
ID: 38833746
The question hasnt been answered.
Here is the question (copied from above):
-------------------------------
My question is:
1. To take max advantage of the raid card, how should I setup the raid?
2. Should the filemaker program and windows be on the same raid array?
3. Which is more important to use under raid? The os, the db program, or the data?
------------------------------------------------
And here is my response to your earlier reply, which provided a link to a guide by filemaker. In essence, the above question can be made more specific into:
------------------------------------------------
However what the guide didnt say is that (I've read the guide previously) where to install filemaker server and where to put the db file:

1. Fm server on same partition with windows.
2. Fms on same partition with the db file
3. Or all of them together on the same partition.
--------------------------------------------------
The last response on the thread was more on explaining what RAID is, which is not what I'm looking for.
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Expert Comment

by:Will Loving
ID: 38833883
I don't have a specific answer/knowledge/experience to your question about what would provide the most optimum performance, however, my guess would be that unless you are running some other heavy demand application such a Terminal Services or other disk intensive application server, then any difference between being on the same partition as Windows or not will be minimal.
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Author Comment

by:SW111
ID: 38833926
Thanks WIlmen.
According filemaker (as linked above) it is disk intensive. If I'm not mistaken, I read somewhere (perhaps in the same document) that OS and FMP should be separated. Didnt mention though, if they meant the application or the data.
Seems strange to me to install application in a different disk subsystem.
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Accepted Solution

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Will Loving earned 500 total points
ID: 38833957
The application is going to load into RAM on startup and will likely have minimal interaction with the disk or impact on disk performance. The data files are what are being constantly written and re-written to disk. Putting the app on the same location as the OS but separated from the data files is not uncommon. I've seen many setups where the data, and only the data, resides on the D: drive whether it's a separate partition or a separate drive.
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Author Closing Comment

by:SW111
ID: 38834053
So your recommendation is to put the data file on the fastest disk subsystem?
I think I can somewhat see the logic of these.
Would you happen to have a reference/link to this?

Thank You
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Expert Comment

by:Will Loving
ID: 38834074
There may be a FileMaker White paper on it but I'm not sure where it would be located except by searching around the FM website.
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