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Speeding up my Server

By Ididmyc600
Oct 21, 2006
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  1. Hi

    I recently introduced a Domain server on to my home network (more out of boredom than necessity) I use the Server as a Logon controller preventing the kids from logging onto their PC's until a certain time, I also use it as a file server for music, games, films etc, the kids have their own folder which is mapped to the P: drive when they logon, it's last (and in my opinion the most important) use it to download torrents.

    OK now dont laugh but it is just an old HP XE310 machine running a 1ghz CPU and 512MB of memory with 2K server as the OS, The OS is on a Western Digital 20GB drive and it has 2 slave drives of 80GB both seagate barracuda's.

    The problem is, with all thats happening on the network, file transfer is starting to slow down to the point of crawling.

    I considered adding a 2nd or indeed a 3rd network card ( the original is onboard) to increase the amount of traffic it can deal with, thing is I dont know if that is going to make a difference, if It does would Server automatically adjust the bandwidth across the other NIC's.

    I cant afford to buy a new machine but I could consider running a seperate PC as just a domain controller and using the XE310 as the file server.

    If I was to go down this road can I demote the XE310 from domain controller to file server and bring in a new Domain controller with ease or would it be easier to put the network onto standalone workgroup and then build a new server on a lower spec machine that I have spare ( there is no room on this machine to install 3 drives, its an old 500mhz Compaq).


    Regards
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,408   +314

    NO load balancing is atypical; usually performed by a round-robin DNS process.
    Once you have a name->IP association, that nic is the only path used.

    your best shot at this is:
    Code:
    modem---router---DC server
               +
               +-----user-system-A
               +----
               +-----user-system-Z
    
    the users will access the Internet w/o passing thru the DC, but
    bandwidth will always be a problem with Bittorents, et al :knock:
  3. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 9,431

    If you are having problems with network speed, then it is your network that you should take a look at first, not the server machine. It doesn't take much processing power or RAM to transfer files and your server should have no problem filling a 100Mbit network.

    BTW, there is nothing to laugh about here.. My server is a 233MHz P2 with 128MB RAM. Works fine :)

    You could post your network topology here - tell us what is connected to what using what and running at what speed. Also, define "crawl". Fast ethernet can do some 10MB/s in ideal conditions and the speed will drop to some 5-6MB/s if you have many simultaneous transfers.

    Identify the weak link. Try file transfer between the PCs, between each PC and the server. Use ping to see if any packets are dropped.
  4. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,251


    Cheers so far for the reply, i'm glad to see that my server is of a decent spec,

    Jobeard are you suggesting adding 2 more PC's as file servers ?

    Nodsu, my layout is quite simple, downstairs I have a Belkin Wireless Router, this feeds 2 Laptops downstairs via wireless,at the moment the Server is also downstairs hardwired into the router, I have a CAT5 cable running through to a 3Com 10/100 Hub upstairs, this feed's the 4 PC's that the kids use.

    The biggest problem occurs when 2 of the PC's are watching any of the films stored on the server, I find that the wireless link downstairs starts to crawl when I try to access the server for file transfer.

    One thing I have noticed since moving the server downstairs and plugging it into the router (which is in the front room where I use my wireless laptop), that file transfer has indeed improved, I think this may show that the 3com hub may be at fault, where as before I went through the router, up the cable, into the hub then onto the server.

    As to define Crawling, the server is just a machine with no keyboard/mouse/screen, I use a remote app to dial into the server if I want to do any work on it or launch a torrent, once the program is running I can treat the server as if i am sat in front of it , when I say crawl imagine running XP on a a server of your spec Nodsu (no disrespect by the way), I find I have to wait anything up to 20 seconds before the PC responds and I get a refreshed image on the screen, yet if all the PC's are off and not doing anything then the time drops to a normal 1-2 seconds to get a refreshed image, the same holds true for copying files from the server to my laptop or vice versa, without anything on the network file copying is reasonable quick, say a film of 700 meg in about 2 minutes or so but when the network is in use this can increase to about 10 minutes.

    I will over the day today ( its sunday its raining so all the kids will be using the PC's) see how I go with regards to this issue.

    Regards
  5. dmill89

    dmill89 TS Guru Posts: 737

    I would first recomend replaceing the 3com hub (which is basically just a splice of all the sources into one) with a switch(which is "intelegent'"[contains hardware for routing packets{not as good as a router though} instead of just comblining all the sopurces together] so it can handle data from multiple sources better), also you stated the the ethernet on the server was integrated. Given the age of the system it may be 10mbps ethernet. If it is 10mbps get a 10/100mbps PCI NIC card to replace it.
  6. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 9,431

    Well, the crawl is/was obviously caused by the network being saturated..

    A hub is not a good thing for simultaneous data transfers and connecting the server to the switch on the router was a good idea. Things should be OK now. Does the server have a 100Mbit NIC? And since it was connected to a hub before, is it set to full duplex now?

    If you have a lousy firewall program on the server, then that combined with the remote control program may be enough to hog the CPU.. You should check the CPU load on the server during one of these crawl periods. Needs a monitor and a keyboard for that of course.
  7. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,582

    have you tried caching on the server and compression
    there are compression technics for streaming video transfers
    and think about 2 server nics with teaming
    the switch will need to be a managed switch
  8. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,251

    Hi all

    Now were getting somewhere, since I moved the server straight to the router, things have improved dramamtically, I have also changed the NIC from auto detect to full 100 duplex and that to seems to have changed the time lag on the remote program.

    Seems the Hub may well be the issue, unfortunately an intelligent switch is outside of my budget, like most I have to justify cost against necessity.

    So for now i'll consider this to be a fix with the help of all those hwo have posted, once again showing that the members of techspot really know their stuff.

    Regards and Thanks


    EDIT 27/10

    I ran some ping tests from the server to the upstairs PC's and found packets dropping left right and centre, The hub was replaced with a new one purchased for a reasonable 30 quid from Maplins and the packets have stopped dropping.

    So yes it seems that even though 3Com are a branded model and as such you would expect top performance from it, sadly it turned out to be the week link in the system.....

    3Com you are the weakest link..... Good bye............................
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