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Currently we have one Windows 2008 R2 Server acting as a domain controller and fileserver. We're serving about 6 million jpgs to 4 IIS servers which are then served to web users. The problem is we're getting memory alerts on the server daily. Our current server serves these files from a single drive (LUN). We also have an issue with the number of files on the disc. The master file table is going to grow too large as we continue to add more images.

Our current plan is to move the file server off to a separate VM. We're also planning on adding 4 or 5 separate drives (LUNs) to serve these files. We're planning on moving to around 15 Million images by the end of this year (a little more than double our current number).

My question is this, what is best practice for serving files. Are we ok moving to a single server with 4 or 5 Drives (LUNs) or should we move to 2 file servers with 3 drives each?

share|improve this question
I did. I've updated the question to match. – Shannon Lowder May 26 '11 at 12:35
I'm having trouble seeing why you think the memory alerts are related to what is in reality pretty basic file serving. Perhaps you can elaborate and tell us what the alerts actually say. – John Gardeniers May 26 '11 at 13:36
I'm getting monitoring alerts on the server. The error reads: Physical Memory usage exceeded threshold (99%), Actual: 99% When we were running 4gb we were getting hundreds of memory alerts per day. After upgrading to 8gb, we've dropped to only a handful of memory alerts per day. – Shannon Lowder May 26 '11 at 13:49
up vote 1 down vote accepted

how are you getting memory alerts? Have you done any process analyis to see if the memory usage is somehow out of the norm? remember that LSASS and the cache will grow to the point of physical memory.


Not getting alerts under 2003 doesn't suprise me since it was not as efficent at using ram as 2008 is. You want as much memeory used as possible in use server, which is why monitoring just memory usage alone is a useless metric. Starting with vista, windows uses as much ram as possible. You can see this same behavior on window 7 by bringing up the resource monitor and looking at the memory tab. Here is an image from my machine currently:

Win 7 resource mon Notice I have only 64 MB free! That's a good thing. (it used to be 2 but I must have just closed something). Notice that the blue bar shows 1369 MB of standby ram- that's essentially the cache for the filesystem and if I needed more ram in an application, that's where the pages come from.

So what you need to know is not how much ram is used but how much each applicaiton is using and whether or not that particular app's memory usage is normal. A good way of determining that (for generating a warning alert) would be to look at memory usage and page faults per second. If you have exccessive page faults AND you have high ram utilization AND you have low standby ram, it's likely there is an issue. (on a fileserver page faults are not as reliable an indicator of problems since it's serving files - thus generating page faults, you must baseline this before setting a threshold)

Hopefully this brief overview on memory monitoring helps

share|improve this answer
I just added more detail to the question. But basically we're getting memory usage alerts. Exceeding 99% memory used. The interesting thing comes when I tell you we were running one server on windows 2003 with only 4gb of memory and we never received the usage alerts. – Shannon Lowder May 26 '11 at 13:51
edited my answer with more details – Jim B May 26 '11 at 15:20
Ok, let's say I ignore the memory issue. What's considered best practices when it comes to serving this many files. One server or multiple. IF you say multiple, could you provide references to explain the setup? – Shannon Lowder May 26 '11 at 19:20
There is no simple answer for this. You should reference the infrastructure planning guide… from microsoft, go from there. The number of files stored isn't really a concern it's the number of open files at any given time. Additionally there are NTFS capacity limits to be examined. – Jim B May 26 '11 at 21:05
I'm marking this one as the answer, since it included a link to the capacity planner. This is helping me plan for the change. Thank you all for contributing! – Shannon Lowder May 31 '11 at 12:59

You should move to 2 (or more) or more servers for redundancy. If you load balance them, it will be easier to take one down/reboot for maintenance. If you have 3 servers, but only really need 2, then your maintenace window could be during the day, as well.

I would also spread out the drives (LUNs) across these servers - again for redundancy.

share|improve this answer
Could you suggest any links for setting up redundancy for file servers. I'm a DBA by trade. I'm not familiar with how you'd set up redundancy for files. – Shannon Lowder May 26 '11 at 13:07

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