RAID/Disk performance issue


I have an HP Proliant M110 G4 server running Windows 2003 32-bit using two 500 GB SATA 3.0 drives in a RAID 1 array with the embedded RAID controller.  We see very bad performance, particular when you write a large file ( > 1 GB).  This happens over USB to disk transfer plus SMB transfers.  

I ran some PerfMon tests and the Process and Memory seem to never be a problem.  But I monitored the Avg Disk Read Queue Length and the Write Queue Length and the write seems to hover around 2 most of the time.  But in larger file tranfers, when the file is about 75% completed, the queue length and the time remaning skyrocket, like it just completely slows to a crawl. (A 3 GB file took 11 Minutes, it takes 4 minutes on other machines).

We need this server to be able to receive file and push them to a handful of other users on a regular basis at better speeds than this.  I am thinking about getting a new RAID controller with some cache and using RAID 10.  

Can you help with a) diagnosing the problem if it is the disks or something else and b) offering a solution?

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andyalderConnect With a Mentor Commented:
E200 is limited to 2TiB disks although you can have a logical disk made of several 2TB disks that's bigger than 2TB. HP also list an 8 port SAS/SATA HBA with RAID which I think is an LSI card but it doesn't support write cache. Are you after a SATA only card so you can avoid buying the fanout cable?

Regarding the enterprise disks that pgm554 mentions as long as they have HP firmware on and are listed in the quickspecs for the model they'll be OK.
Alex GreenConnect With a Mentor 3rd Line Server SupportCommented:
The issue with RAID1 is it will slightly increase write times anyway, if you're pulling it from a USB disk you may find that changing the USB port may improve speeds. Off the top of my head I can't remember if that server has USB1.1 or 2

Also, you need to consider the disks, if it's quite full the disk will write from the outside in, if you're getting near to filling up the disk that could be the issue as well since it'll be writing on the slowest part of the disk.

If you really need fast performance, then you can either go with your RAID10 or try copying it over from a NAS drive rather than a USB drive. This will rule out the disks at fault and point more to USB.

I moved 56GB from from a USB disk to an old proliant server and that took around 2 hours :S. It was pretty shocking tbh
A higher performance controller is kind of a no brainer,but I would look at defragging the disks and try using USB3.

Looking at that box,it appears as if the controller is a SATA 150,so a nice caching controller will definitely speed things up.
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L8CAuthor Commented:
The transfers are slow over SMB and USB.  We typically use the SMB so upgrading USB probably won't help us.

I am defragging the disks now but they are only at 17% usage so I don't think space is the issue.

Is RAID 10 the best way to go for speed and redundancy?  I was thinking that or RAID 5.  I know you need an extra drive for RAID 10 but they are so cheap, why not.
andyalderConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Only supported Smart Array for that server is HP Smart Array E200/128 BBWC Controller 411508-B21

Also from quickspecs -
HP 1-Port SATA RAID Cable
NOTE: The purchase of SATA hard drives requires the purchase of the HP 1-Port
SATA RAID Cable (P/N 430479-B21) for each additional hard drive.

HP Internal SAS/SATA 4-Port Cable
NOTE: The purchase of a SAS Storage Controller requires the purchase of HP
SAS/SATA 4-Port Cable (P/N 430479-B21)

So to upgrade you would need the E200 plus two 1-port SATA-SAS cables plus the 4 port fanout cable.

Have you tried the file transfer with the virus checker disabled?
Depends upon size of the disks.
Given that a lot of the newer disks are just huge, RAID 10 makes good sense,but is more expensive to implement because it require at least 4 disks.

Couple of things to be careful of,if you are using hardware RAID,use of enterprise disks is mandatory if you do not want data loss.(Seagate ES,WD RE)
L8CAuthor Commented:

Can I get a different RAID controller that is not Smart Array?
At $95 bucks new ,those are pretty cheap these days,although you got to wonder what is the max size disk is they support.
L8CAuthor Commented:
I found a good PCI-E controller that would do RAID 10.  Would this be supported?  Or how do you find out if hardware RAID controllers are supported by the mobo?
L8CAuthor Commented:
Andy, I am looking at this RAID adapter that comes with the fan out cable (  

It will support 4 SATA 500 GB drives in a PCI-E x8 slot.

I am just concerned if the server will recognize it or not.
No cache and I see it's lower level raid,which means no co processor.

If you're going to spend the money,get a controller that will give you a noticeable speed boost.

I would look elsewhere.
L8CAuthor Commented:
Are you talking about the Adaptec RAID 2405 2260200-R ?  It has 128 MB of DDR2 cache.
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