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I'm setting up a server that involves lots of database writing during regular updates, and I have wildly varying results between different machines. I'm trying to find out what I can expect from different machines (and hosting providers) without having to install the entire software stack to measure performance.

I've used hdparm -tT on the disks, but that measures sequential disk access.

Is there an equivalent test that's better for testing database-style random-access reads and writes? Or should I just rely on the manufacturer numbers?

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2 Answers 2

You pretty much can rely on the factory numbers, but the problem is that you do not know what you talk about ;) Not in the negative sense.

what I can expect from different machines (and hosting providers)

Ok, simple: low performance as they save money. Point. I personally use a SuperMicro setup for a performance database with at the moment 8 discs, all 10k rpm. I doubt a hostingp provider will over that without serious pushing.

More complex: This will vary widely (your idea to measure is right), but even then you are not along on the system - so the performance can again ary a lot more depending what other people do at the time.

You have rightly identified the bottleneck being the discs.

SQLIO is my favourite. Remember to give the tool enough large a test file to actually move the head a lot.

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Sorry, maybe "hosting providers" is the wrong phrase - I'm only looking at dedicated servers, so the machines aren't shared with anyone. –  gravitystorm Jul 25 '10 at 15:31
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Although SQLIO and IOMETER are great I strongly recommend iozone for detailed information in this area.

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Bonnie is also a good test, but its always better to use multiple tools. Also remember the effect of cache on those tests. This is the URL for Bonnie since I fail to link stuff at comments: coker.com.au/bonnie++ –  coredump Jul 23 '10 at 16:45
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