Our development server at work is taking a dump on us. So at this point, we're repurposing some other servers we have in our server room for this purpose.

My boss wants me to test the servers before I even try installing anything on them. How do we to about this?


7 Answers 7


The UBCD has several benchmark/stress testing utilities built in. Just burn it to a CD and boot it up, no need to install anything. I've used it several times to stress new production systems.

The UBCD includes

  • memtest
  • CPU burn-in
  • Benchmarking tools (run once before, and once after)
  • And a bunch of disk diagnostic tools

Works great.

Alternatively there is Stress Linux, but it hasn't been maintained very well. It does include several tools that are useful for stress testing: bonnie++, memtest, and stress.

The linux program stress is excellent. Allowing you to test memory, CPU, and disks with one program.


First thing I'd do is to run memtest on them to absolutely make sure that the RAM works properly (see http://www.memtest.org/, they have an ISO file available for booting from CD-ROM).

Then I'd install Debian or Ubuntu and run some I/O benchmark software while carefully watching dmesg/syslog for any disk related errors. (Linux is free, your boss shouldn't care.)

Then I'd download several large files from a FTP server while pinging something to make sure that the network connection is reliable.

Edit: Poster elsewhere made a good point - don't install anything if it already has the OS you want to use!


It depends a lot on what type of tests you need to run. If it's just to check and see if they still basically work any of the Live CD versions of Linux will work (Knoppix, Ubuntu, ...).

  • That won't test disks
    – pauska
    Jun 12, 2009 at 15:28
  • You can always run fsck...
    – ceejayoz
    Jun 12, 2009 at 15:46
  • No, you can always run badblocks. Aug 26, 2009 at 19:48

I'd like to at least mention SpinRite, if testing the hard-drives/storage as part of the system.



http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/. Here you can find good tools. Before installation test the HCL.


If I have time, I like to do an extensive "burn in". I'm sure there are programs that will do this for you, but I end up just writing a couple of batch files.

On a Windows box for example, I'd do the following

  1. create a couple extra volumes (D, E)
  2. compress 1 volume
  3. encrypt the other volume
  4. make some folders on the D drive and load them up with data... Word documents, MP3 files, movies, whatever. A few huge files are good (movies). Make an MD5 hash of the big files and store it on another computer. When you finish, do another MD5 of the big file and see if they match.
  5. write a short script to move/copy/delete files back and forth and set it to loop. Something like:

    copy d:\test1*.* e:\test1*.*
    copy d:\test2*.* e:\test2*.*
    del /q d:\test1*.*
    del /q d:\test2*.*

Then copy everything back.

If this doesn't get your processor usage (and disk usage) pegged, setup more folders and more scripts. I've had systems where I had to have 5 different batch files running at the same time in order to get everything pegged.

All of the compressing and encrypting will help get the processor and RAM in use, and of course all the file moving will test the disks pretty thoroughly. You can do an even better job by replacing the delete command with something that does a secure delete-- scrubbing the actual area of the hard drive.


Are we talking about Windows? Is there an OS installed on the new server? If no, just make you you have adequate RAM. Verify what your processor speed is and if it's dual or quad (both preferred). Also verify your RAID settings.

Most Dell and HP servers comes with APPs which can be run during startup to check the hardware.


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