Ways to Improve a 10 Year Old Intel XEON Server


Recently i took over a contract where previous tech upgraded a 10 year old server instead of replacing it presumably in order to save on costs, below are current specs:

Intel® Server Board S3200SHV with a XEON x3220 2.4Ghz CPU & an Onboard Intel® 82801IR I/O RAID Controller
8GB RAM (Maxed Out)
2x Seagate 500GB SATA 7200rpm Dektop Drives in RAID1 for the O/S
4x 3TB WD WD30EFRX-68EUZN RED Series 5400 NAS Drives with Hot Spare in Microsoft Storage Space Configuration
Windows Server Essentials 2016

He upgraded this server to above specs about less than 2 years ago, first off I question if the server should not have just been replaced or does bringing it up to above specs makes sense.

Second, i find the server to be slow and was wondering if I should not replace the 2 Seagate desktop drives by SSD in RAID1 and if so, should i keep current onboard RAID controller or add a separate controller for this purpose or should i just wait a couple of year and replace the whole server?

Your suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks
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I'd first try to see just what is making the server be slow.  Use Task Manager, Performance as a rough guide.  Check to see if the CPU, RAM, or Disk are running at high utilization.

What are you seeing that cause you to call it "slow"?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
For essentials it's ok.  I'd prefer to have 16 GB of RAM, but realistically, the environment is small and the load on the server SHOULD be light.  I assume you're basically doing file sharing and authentication... maybe workstation backup (off hours) and remote access gateway.

The question is WHAT is slow.  Disk is the slowest part of the system.  What kind of throughput are you getting?  If they are going cheap (and any company not replacing a server for 10 years is going cheap) they could be using 100 Mbit switches - which are SLOW by today's standards.  Or they could have Cat5 (instead of Cat5e or 6 cabling which doesn't support gigabit speeds that could be slowing things down.  It could be the drives... but what are you accessing?  storage is TYPICALLY the slowest major component of the server so it COULD be a problem with slow/aging storage... but if it's that old, it could be a SATA I or SATA II connector which limits bandwidth to 150 to 300 MB/sec.
andyalderSaggar maker's framemakerCommented:
It's not going to be fast with 7.2K drives for the OS and even worse with 5.4K drives for the data. Bear in mind though that you as administrator are running programs off the c: drive whereas the users are doing most of their stuff on D: so their impression of speed may be different than yours.
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ataenterAuthor Commented:
Basically it takes forever to boot into the O/S, opening programs is also slow. We have 2x 24 port Dlink Gigabit Switches.

There are about 15 users connecting for file sharing, they have no complaints except for Quickbooks users but that might be unrelated as their database is 800MB (Huge). Usually i never build servers with desktop or slow drives, i presume he went with RAID1 so that drives could be easily introduced into another server upon failure and WD RED series drives for Data as they are more reliable on the long run when backing up all stations to the server every day..Right?

Do you consider the setup pretty acceptable considering the task at hand and me being the only one finding it slow to work with or should the server have been replaced initially? or other components be selected for optimal performance?
Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information SystemsCommented:
If the machine is only file serving - and a server-class motherboard and Xeon processor seem overkill for that - I'd just leave it, perhaps swap in SSD drives when it suited me.  

If it's doing anything more than that, I'd look at replacing it when time and funds allowed.
"Basically it takes forever to boot into the O/S, opening programs is also slow"

When booting, are the OS drive lights on pretty steadily?  If so, that tells you that they are the bottleneck.

Same question when opening programs, but by then you can see what's going on in Task Manager.

I realize that 7.2k drives are not the fastest, but they should still give reasonable performance in your scenario.  Nevertheless, SSDs would likely make a significant difference if they are supported by the RAID controller.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
In addition to the other comments, I've seen slow behavior when the graphics card is not supported... and especially if this is onboard, it's possible there are no drivers for the graphics adapter and it's using a generic and potentially slow driver.  You may find better performance from connecting through remote desktop since that's not using the graphics adapter as much if at all.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Curious - I use Crystal Disk Mark to test disk throughput... what do you get with that when run against C:?  On a NEW Dell Server with a CRAP S100/S110 RAID controller it was SLOWER THAN A DVD.  Reconnected to NON-RAID onboard SATA and performance improved 20x.
Natty GregIn Theory (IT)Commented:
Clone the server and set it up on new hardware - do it soon just in case
ataenterAuthor Commented:
Well finally we're swapping the hardware and i was hoping for some advice :)

Should i just swap motherboard / cpu / ram for latest & greatest and keep current hard drive configuration? (6 drives, 2 in RAID 1 for O/S, 4 in Ms storage Space for Data backing up all 15 desktops to Server via Win 2016 Essentials) or get brand new server with say SSD for Boot (in RAID or Not?) or just SAS drives in RAID 10?

Basically it's a File server..

Thanks in advance
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