I seek your opinion and tips/suggestions in optimizing the performance of a new Windows file server I'm building. I've inherited a Dell NF500 storage server (basically Dell 2950 with Windows 2k3 Storage Server OS). It has a PERC 6i with 256mb BBU cache and 6x 750gb SATA drives and 4gb system memory. I think I'm going with RAID6 as I fear loosing a 2nd drive during a long rebuild should the RAID6 volume go bad. The RAID6 volume will use 5x drives with 1x drive as hot spare as well, yes we're super paranoid but are also following our standard that all servers have hot spares.
With that said, I seek your opinion on other tips and suggestions to optimize the performance. It will serve as file server (random R/W and file sizes are typically small but there are some large ones) for both Windows, Macs and Linux clients via SMB/CIFS/NFS.
Any particular settings on the RAID controller side? Currently stripe element set to 256kb (can go up to 512k and maybe 1mb), adaptive read ahead policy and cache write back thanks to BBU. Should I make the stripe element size larger?
Any partitioning/file system level tweaks? I vaguely remember reading something about aligning start of disk partitions, # of drives, building file system with the right block size, etc. Any info, including links, you can send my way so I can review would be very much appreciated.
Any OS level tweaks? Since it's a single RAID volume, does it matter if I put the OS and data store on one partition or should I partition out? I plan to also use VSS, should that be another separate partition? Can it even be on the same partition?
Other best practices?
Thanks in advance. I'm a router/switch/fw guy so this is all a little new to me. C.