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HI i have organisation with about 20 people who access server all the time heavily, they downloaduplfiles upload files, word, excel using windows shared folders to let several people work with same file in real time. And most of the files are ~500kb like 100 000+ files so far. total size 200GB.

The thing is it works really slow what they have now is HP MediaSmart Server - EX490 (2 GB RAM - 2.2 GHz - 1 TB HDD). I was thinking maybee the hard drive is not fast enough so i ordered solid state drive 250gb.

But eventually we going to upgrade server pc, what hardware you think we should use?

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5 Answers

A Celeron, in a server? Ouch. The machine you have now is consumer, home use only. TBH, it's not fit to really be a workstation. You mentioned that you ordered a 250GB drive to replace the 2TB, thats not going to leave you a ton of room for growth, unless you plan on leaving the 2TB in there as well.

You should look into a proper server, such as an HP or Dell running Windows SBS at a minimum. Something using a Xeon or equivalent CPU, 4+ GB of memory, and some type of redundancy in your HDDs.

Even with only 20 users, an SSD isn't going to make much of a difference, and will probably just wear out faster than a typical mechanical drive would. You would be better off buying a 10K+ RPM drive, over an SSD.

In short, your current box is nowhere near server-grade, and throwing parts at it will never get it there.

If you are tight on budget, your best bet would be to image the 2TB onto the SSD, then MOVE all shared data back onto the 2TB. Let the SSD be your OS drive, and the 2TB for your data.

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SSD evolves every year they dont wear out faster than regular hard drives anymore as far as my research tells. –  AndyMaccarthur Apr 21 '11 at 22:14
    
I agree that they evolve, I just dont think they are right for the job of a file server. Maybe for the OS, but not for the data. –  DanBig Apr 21 '11 at 22:18
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You best bet is to get an actual server. There are ones you can get from HP and Dell that are not to expensive.

A light dell T110 is about over $400.

What else is the server service? Is it just Files, or does it have printers as well?

I would take a look at the file system as well, the type of file system has does have an affect as well.

You may want to look at your switch and network infrastructure. It could take a while if all the files are that small, but you are using Windows Networking to get to the files. If you are on small dumb switch that could be getting over loaded as well on the server port.

The best fix for you would be a proper class hardware.

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File system is NTFS 2 partitions one is system other is data ~900GB. –  AndyMaccarthur Apr 21 '11 at 22:12
    
I know server sucks, but it was not my choice they got it before i came over, can someone explain how CPU and memory even do anything in this evacuation since i thought server only reads files from hdd to the network without processing them... –  AndyMaccarthur Apr 21 '11 at 22:13
    
The server still has to be able to read the file, or at least the file name. In most cases with windows it also generates a thumbnail of the file, that also eats up cpu, network and memory. There is also only a over head for any file system access. IIRC Windows does a full directory read for each CIFS client that accesses the shares. Also it have to store and read the permissions of the file, check that agianst the userid of the client. –  Squidly Apr 22 '11 at 13:21
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The MediaSmart server line was designed for home use... Which, obviously, has very light traffic. There's a reason HP says it's only for up to 10 users...

The SSD will make zero difference to its performance. As a side note, terrabyte size and larger drives are generally just fine performance wise.

You need to buy a new machine. Make sure it has:

  1. Gigabit Ethernet with a good network card. There is a HUGE difference between similarily spec'd cards even from the same manufacturer; and a machine built for "home" use is not going to be optimized very well.

  2. At least 4GB of RAM. RAM is cheap and the OS these days will eat 1GB easy.

  3. A "real" processor. In other words NOT an ATOM. Any Intel dual or quad core produced in the last 4 years ought to be just fine.. except Atom and it's cousins. Preferably something done in the last 2 years with a solid chipset.

  4. Multiple hard drives in a RAID array (for safety and performance reasons).

While at it, make sure your network can support (and is configured for) gigabit level traffic. Which leads us to the next thing: network cards transfer data much slower than hard drives can. A modern hard drive would only get maybe 10 to 15% utilization from a file transfer over a network. Probably even less depending on which drive we're talking about. WD's "green" drives are by nature slower than the equivalent "black" drives. Regardless, both are going to out perform your network traffic.


A little more about ATOM. These chips were built for small workloads with high energy efficiency. In other words s.l.o.w. I can guarantee that your current issue is more processor and chipset bound than disk bound.

We have a couple of atom based "servers" here. Both are low use machines: a build server and a testing web box. The build server takes roughly 10 times longer to build one of our projects than one of our standard dev machines does. Which is fine, considering it's only running builds maybe 7 or 8 times a day.

All of this said, there are a couple companies that are building large parallel processing servers off of ATOM chips. But we're talking machines with 512+ cores in them with a very particular target market and tight energy usage requirements.

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I went through something similar to what you are going through. I am a part-time system administrator for a small charter school. They have about a total of 150 people, 25 being staff/teachers. When I got there, they had regular personal computer running Windows XP as their "file server". As you probably know, it limits up to 10 concurrent users to a shared folder, so the 11th person could not access the shared files. I found a used Poweredge 860 server with an xeon quad-core 2.66 mhz processor and 4 GB of ram for $200. I upgraded to 8GB of ram, pair of 1TB hard drives running in RAID 1, put on Fedora 14 and samba. I've never seen the staff so happy and everything is much better and faster. This is only a file server, not a domain controller. Total cost was about $400.

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For now there may be things you can do to speed it up. I would check the wire to the switch. If its not cat6 I would replace it. Also check the speed on the network card. If its set to auto, I would test it a fixed speeds. Sometimes 100mbs full works faster than 1gbs. After that I would turn up the buffers on the card to max. I would increase the cooling in the server as much as possible. Check and see if there are some un needed services running.

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