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Fragmented Files on Windows 2003 SBS

Posted on 2013-06-13
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I have one client with a Dell PowerEdge 840 (~5 years old) with a Dell SAS 5/iR Controller and 2 SAS Drives in RAID 1 mode.  The drive has been partitioned into a 25GB System and the remaining 206GB for Data.

About a year ago, the users noticed things we "running slow", and lately they notice it more and more.  What seems to be happening is the files on both the System and Data drives become fragmented -- but only about 15% of them.  The LED for drive activity is usually on solid.  

The built-in Disk Defragmenter won't defrag most of the files so I'm usinig the free Auslogics tool.  Once it defrags, the server runs fine.  So, I created a Scheduled Task to run it on Saturdays -- which it did this previous weekend.  But the client called me this morning to say it was slow again, and the LED lights on solid and files are fragmented again.  BTW, Exchange in this SBS edition is only used for downloading e-mail into the Mailboxes from the user's Desktops via POP.  It's not being used as a full SMTP server.

I booted into the RAID configuration and both drives are reporting healthy.  The Write Cache settings for the Disks are grayed out but "Optimized for performance" is selected.  I don't have the Dell Windows utility installed to check the settings (can't figure out which one to download and install).  There are no Errors or Warnings logged in System Events.

Any ideas as to what might be causing this?  I've worked on many servers before and have never seen this kind of activity before without some type of failure.
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Question by:wchestnut
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by:Haresh Nikumbh
ID: 39244511
you can download Diagnostic CD from below location

http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/04/DriverDetails?driverId=R131805&fileId=2731114586

version : 5.1,A00 support PowerEdge 840
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dlethe earned 500 total points
ID: 39244522
File fragmentation is an overrated bottleneck.  In the grand scheme of things fragmentation is almost always statistically insignificant when it comes to having "a slow system".

A HDD can only do so many I/Os per second.  Look at performance monitor an I/O queue depth.  If > 2 then it means simply that your disks aren't able to keep up with the workload.  The solution to that is to do one or more of the following:
* Faster disks (but that will be an incremental change and help more with throughput, not IOPS and an extremely high queue depth.
* SSDs - Will give 100X better performance in random I/O, since this is a server you will certainly have a lot of that in the index files  & scratch table space.
* Add more disks and balance the load.
* More RAM - will be an incremental improvement unless you are hitting 100% memory usage -- which can also be seen from performance monitor.

So what is memory utilization & IO queue depth?   This will tell you what to do. But fragmentization??  Stop reading the BS from the company that sells disk fragmentation software, especially in a RAID configuration that virtualizes I/O to begin with.
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Author Comment

by:wchestnut
ID: 39244563
Thanks, guys.  I will look into downloading the utility and checking the memory utilization and I/O.

This environment only has 5 users and the server has 4GB of RAM and usually 1-2GB is showing as Available.

I agree about the fragmentation BS, but every time I defrag, the server performs as it should.

I'll post results later.
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