SBS 2011 high disk usage

Hello, so we have this (quite old) SBS 2011 Standard which has recently become abismally slow.

It's mainly a data server (we're not using Exchange) and sometimes when a client opens files on the server there are very heavy slowdowns, to the point where I had to reboot a client yesterday because it would hang on a small Access database.

I think I've found the culprit though. Disk activity is always very very high, and the processes behind this activity are related to SQL Server 99% of the time.

It looks like the main cause is the SBS Monitoring service, which relies on SQL Server to function.

So I think I nailed down the cause, but the question is: what to do about it? Is there a way to circumvent this? Thanks.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAsked:
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KimputerIT ManagerCommented:
In most cases, SBS monitoring is non-essential. You can shutdown the SQL service to see how it behaves. You will obviously lose out on all the SBS reporting tools.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
I'd like to understand what's happening though.
KimputerIT ManagerCommented:
There's quite a bit logging going on in SBS (otherwise you couldn't get those nice reports). It's all about statistics, usage etc etc.
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Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
I know, but it just suddenly went up in disk usage, as if the database was corrupt or something.
KimputerIT ManagerCommented:
The MSSQL log files are text readable, especially if errors are involved. If there are a lot and big error files, read them to get a sense of what's going in. If you see the log files cycle daily without being too big, there probably aren't any errors.
Jim Dettman (EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
Watch out to for WSUS (Windows Server Update Services).   It can get out of control and suck the life out of a SBS server.   it runs on a SQL instance, so that may be where part of your monitoring problem is coming from.  Monitoring was never great anyway, even in other areas.   As the others have said, you can shut it off if you really want to.

But if your using WSUS and haven't been maintaining it, you need to.

 Most popular script to clean-up WSUS is the Adamj one:

https://www.ajtek.ca/wam/features/

But the author now charges for it.  You can however find older versions of the script still floating around:

https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/76ycwc/adamj_cleanwsus_powershell_script/

also, there are a bunch of clean-up scripts floating around on tech net:

https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/WSUS-cleanup-script-7e019537

HTH,
Jim.
Jim Dettman (EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
FYI, I just double checked some of those links, and it looks like the free copies have been removed.   Maybe someone knows of where an old copy resides, but I don't.

 Also watch out for the scripts on Tech Net.   Not all apply to SBS and there are a few different ones floating around.    I'd hunt for these myself, but I'm short on time at the moment.

 You definitely want to do so WSUS maintenance though if your using it and haven't.

Jim.
SteveArchitect/DesignerCommented:
This is a common issue for SBS as it is a pre-packaged set of individual components that were never really meant to run on a single server.

The biggest issue occurs when you only have a single physical set of disks (RAID SET), as everything is fighting for disk IO. if you can split it out onto multiple physical disk sets you can alleviate this to some degree by moving some functions to other disk sets. This means the various services are fighting over different disks instead of the same one.

With regard to the logging increase it could e a number of things as the SQL is used for a number of services in SBS. If you've seen a sudden increase it may be indicative of a problem so definitely worth investigating.
There have been known issues with the DB becoming corrupted so take a look at this script used to rebuild it.
http://www.itquibbles.com/sql-sbsmonitoring-high-disk-usage/

Worth a try. take backups if possible, before doing anything :-)
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Use this method to trim the amount of memory that SQL is using. I suggest setting it to 384MB or 512MB at the most.

The process can also be used to trim the WID instance memory.

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Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
I'm going to try most of these suggestions out in the weekend, when nobody's working, and report back. Thanks guys.
Jim Dettman (EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
Trimming the SQL Server memory is critical to do. Once the server gets around 90% of its memory capacity, it will start paging to disk.

SQL by default will use as much memory as it can, and with multiple instances running,  it can really push a server hard if the memory usage is not capped.

Jim
Jim Dettman (EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
and BTW, I would focus on trimming SQL back first so the server is always running with about 85% of physical memory consumed, then work on WSUS and the monitoring after that so it can operate efficiently within that.

Jim.
SteveArchitect/DesignerCommented:
SQL in SBS is configured to use as much free memory as is available but it doesn't steal it from other processes. It only eats up memory where it is not used by other apps.
Limiting it is fine, but it may mean SQL runs slower and doesn't make use of spare memory sat unused.
Jim Dettman (EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
<<SQL in SBS is configured to use as much free memory as is available but it doesn't steal it from other processes. >>

 While that's true, you'll find that there is a flaw in the setup:

a. It doesn't give back memory quickly.
b. Each instance assumes it's the only instance running.

  With those two things combined, on an SBS server, you almost always need to cap each instance to get it to run right.

Jim.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
Actually, memory is trimmed, I did that years ago. The server's memory use is around 50-60% all the time.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
So I trimmed memory even more and that helped because it reduced SQL activity in general. Then I decided to actually stop the SBS monitoring service and that helped too.

Then I discovered some old backup scripts copying files from "VIP" clients to an external drive connected to a USB 2.0 port on the server. Got rid of that and diverted those backups straight to a NAS.

Now it looks like things are running much, much better (although I still hope they'll get the funds for another server, so I can virtualize something).
Jim Dettman (EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
Yes, you have to stay on top of SBS.   Biggest issue I always found was memory, and WSUS typically drove a lot of that.   Once a server goes past 85% or so, things really start to slow down.

   And don't forget about WSUS either if your using it.   It's pretty inefficient in doing many things and it's easy for it to get out of control.  You should clean it up monthly.

Jim.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
I cleaned WSUS a while ago, guess it's probably time to do it again. It gave me huge trouble for a while, all updates would hang and it was very difficult to get it up and running again. There's a thread about it here somewhere.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
Most comments were helpful, I have no idea which one to choose as the solution though :).
Jim Dettman (EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
Philip's:

https://www.experts-exchange.com/questions/29148290/SBS-2011-high-disk-usage.html#a42879437

He was the first to mention memory and trimming.

Jim.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
Thanks everybody.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Multiple answers can be chosen too if that is the direction you want to go in.
Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
Yes, I did, but it was asking me for the main solution.
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