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We are running two servers with around 30 workstations as follows:

  • 1 x UNIX Server
  • 1 x HP Proliant Server - Windows Server 2008
  • 30 x Windows XP Professional SP3
  • 5 x Axel Thin Clients
  • 16 x Avaya IP Phones

They are all interconnected with the following:

  • 4 x 25 port Patch Panels
  • 1 x Nortel 2550T-PWR
  • 1 x Netgear ProSafe 24 port 10/100 Switch
  • 1 x Netgear 16 port 10/100 Fast Ethernet Switch

All of the phones run through the Nortel switch (as it's PoE with QoS), all of the switches are daisy chained.

I am trying to get everything up to a decent standard and am wondering if upgrading the two Netgear switches to gigabit switches would improve the general speed and performance of the network.

One area in particular is logging in and out of the domain.

I have already put the two servers into the two gigabit ports on the Nortel switch.

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Without knowing something about your network usage this question cannot be adequately answered. e.g. Users why move very little traffic through the network are unlikely to see any difference by going to Gigabit. Users who routinely move massive files, such a movies or large CAD files, etc., will most definitely see a difference. –  John Gardeniers Apr 11 '11 at 19:03

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Network performance problems are rarely attributable to the size/speed of the links, in my experience. In an earlier post, you mentioned you're using roaming profiles approaching 250MB and larger. That's a big profile to load on logon and to unload on logout. Faster links are not likely to help, and I'm willing to bet that if you look at the network tab of Task Manager on your profile server that it's going to show utilization is very low.

Start by analyzing the current usage/saturation of the links. If they're not saturated then bigger/faster links aren't going to help.

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Thanks for noticing my concurrent posts! The speed of logins etc. are an issue - probably the most irritating of them all at the moment. However, I have just taken over the network and would like to get everything up to a decent standard. We don't really have that much trouble with network speeds etc. however, if we can make all of the hardware a decent quality we can then look to adding new features etc. –  dannymcc Apr 11 '11 at 18:56
    
I totally agree with joeqwerty. I actually have a feeling that the Domain Controller's IO is probably more of an issue than the speed of the link. You might have a better chance at accelerating the logins/logouts by putting your users profile on a iSCSI SAN or something. But I'm not sure if the money spent will be worth the increase in performance. –  Alex Apr 11 '11 at 19:03
    
@danny: If your biggest problem right now is the speed of logon times, I would suggest you look into using Folder Redirection to redirect each user's My Documents folder to a network share. That should reduce the size of the roaming profiles significantly and speed up the logon times. –  joeqwerty Apr 11 '11 at 19:05
    
I have redirected all of the users folders to their profile location which is on the DC server as a network share. If the current Netgear switches aren't managed I'm not sure how I can see what traffic is going through it. –  dannymcc Apr 11 '11 at 19:15
    
plus 1 on the folder redirection for mydocuments also put as much of your stuff on the main switch, and dont daisy chain switch to switch to switch, put both the switches into the nortel direct –  anthonysomerset Apr 11 '11 at 19:19

In my experience, gigabit to the desktop is the best thing since sliced bread (except maybe peanut butter). If upgrading the switches is part of an overall plan modernizing your infrastructure, by all means make sure they're gigabit. If your servers and workstations are only capable of 10/100 you won't get much benefit now, but as you upgrade most workstations and probably every server out there currently on the market include gigabit network by default, and so users taking advantage of the newer hardware will see significant gains in speed.

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Thx => Thanks. :) –  music2myear Apr 12 '11 at 17:20

I would take a look at the traffic on the switches and see how they're doing first. Look also at where the roaming profiles are stored and see if maybe the storage itself is having the performance issues. I used to do roaming profiles and it was never an issue until my company decided to install a punch card machine to make sure everybody was in the office at 8AM. That killed my hard drives. After upgrading the storage then my switches were struggling (only two 3Com 10/100 Superstack switches) and still had to replace them but it all varies according to your environment and usage.

Forgot to add that if you found out you needed to upgrade the switches, these are pretty cheap.

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I don't think it would really help logging in and out of the domain (unless you have some sort of remote homes or something), but I'm not a windows sysadmin. It doesn't seem to improve the time logging in and out of linux systems using NIS or LDAP.

What it will drastically help is NAS/Shared file speeds. Also, if you do net booting, VNC/RDP control of workstations, or network imaging, it will help incredibly.

Netgear and Dlink both make dirt cheap managed gigabit switches. Well worth it IMO.

I've got 3 48 port Dlink managed gigabit switches I use for the labs I run, haven't had a single problem with them. For the things I mentioned, they were a HUGE upgrade from the 100MB Cisco switches we used to have.

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May I ask what you class as dirt cheap? –  dannymcc Apr 11 '11 at 18:36
    
Talked like someone not knowing what windows offers... which requires a lot of network bandwidth during logon. –  TomTom Apr 11 '11 at 19:26
    
dannymcc, about $300 for a 24port managed gigabit switch. That's almost cheap enough to get for home. Almost. –  Kyle__ Apr 11 '11 at 20:51

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