I have a network infrastructure of Windows XP clients (a mix of XP and 64-bit XP), that are accessing a network share on a Windows 2008 R2 server. Whenever users type the address of a folder into the address bar of Windows Explorer it's as snappy at determining the contents of the current folder and presenting them to you in the address bar as if you're working on a local drive.

But if you open one of the subfolders users get the animated red torch and 'Searching for items...' dialog, typically for 45 seconds.

Similarly when using the open folder dialog to try and select a subfolder on this share it takes, on average, 45 seconds for the dialog to expand each node and show the subfolders of each node.

Also, while the Explorer instance accsesing the network share is running slowly users notice that the performance of all other Explorer windows suffers. So while Explorer is searching for files on the network share they can't switch to another task and navigate around their local drive using Explorer because it's now as slow as a dead dog at accessing anything.

Are there any settings we can change which will improve the performance accessing network shares?

  • 3
    Besides upgrading the OS to a current version? Lots of changes done there. – TomTom Apr 20 '11 at 8:48
  • Seriously? I can't change the entire client desktop infrastructure to fix a problem with Windows networking. Nor should anyone have to. And besides, the top related item shows that someone is having similar issues with Windows 7 - serverfault.com/questions/183603/… – nick3216 Apr 20 '11 at 9:55
  • 1
    Seriously, XP is being retired in big companies now. Many reason to get rid of that by now. – TomTom Apr 20 '11 at 10:58
  • 2
    @nick - Why is that not a real world solution? If you asked for a show of hands for people in enterprise settings that have upgraded away from XP or that have a solid plan to, I think that you would be in the minority. That being said, there are many improvements to SMB in Vista/7 that would likely solve your problem. – MDMarra Apr 20 '11 at 14:39
  • 4
    I've seen this type of behavior when antivirus software is set to scan network shares. Having said that, you haven't really indicated what you've done to troubleshoot this or done in an attempt to solve it. – GregD Apr 20 '11 at 14:41

Finally this was tracked down to integration of the Serena Dimensions Explorer Shell integration.

Once this was discovered the fix was simply to unregister the DLL: regsvr32 /u cmshellext10m.dll

|improve this answer|||||

If it were my problem, I'd approach it in the following ways:

Benchmark and ongoing monitoring: First, benchmark performance on your share. I use 'readfile.exe' from http://www.winimage.com/readfile.htm because it gives me a performance index comparable to what my user on that share will experience. This is your measure for whether you are gettign closer, further away or having no impact on your problem.

I would employ something like MRTG to give nice historical graphs, but excel should work as well. You may need to write a script to make MRTG work for this - but just speak up and I'll post a script.

You need this to see if changes you might be making causes a 'quantifiable' change in performance.

Next, set up a regularly scheduled job to collect performance counter data (like every 5 minutes).

You want to collect things like: CPU memory disk channel network throughput number of processes number of sessions statistics about your nic's behavior There are lots to choose from.

You can use Microsoft performance monitor, and have it export to a file, or set up WMIC.exe query's and collect and export that way. There are lots of different ways to do this.

You want to see what these collected numbers are saying to you. You may want to focus on natural bottlenecks - like nic throughput.

Some links

|improve this answer|||||

There were a number of changes to the file sharing system in 2008/Vista which may be causing you issues.

  • Try disabling SMB2 on the 2008 hosts
  • Set your AV solution on the clients to disable remote scanning (exclude \\*\*)
  • Remove or disable Windows Search 4.0 (or above) on your clients if it's installed (it was a stock windows update a few years back)

You can work around the 'all explorer windows are slow' problem by enabling 'Launch folder windows in a separate process' option under Tools -> Folder Options.

Take a look at the TCP offload settings on both server and clients, as I vaguely remember some issues with SMB browsing if ToE is enabled on the server-side with particular NICs.

|improve this answer|||||
  • We already had to disable SMB2 on the 2008 server to enable it to talk to other 2008 servers - the network share would periodically go unavailable. – nick3216 Apr 28 '11 at 7:45
  • chimney offload was also disabled to improve performance talking to other 2008 servers – nick3216 Apr 28 '11 at 7:45

Have you run the File Services Role best practice analyzer? That should point out anything you can immediately check into. 8.3 file names could be a potential issue (this would be picked up by the analyzer). See SMB: Short File name Creation should be disabled

If the analyzer flags this as an issue use the following method to disable 8.3 file names:

Open command prompt -> fsutil 8dot3name set x

usage : fsutil 8dot3name set [0 through 3] | [ 1 | 0]

When a volume is not specified the operation updates the registry value:

0 - Enable 8dot3 name creation on all volumes on the system 1 - Disable 8dot3 name creation on all volumes on the system 2 - Set 8dot3 name creation on a per volume basis 3 - Disable 8dot3 name creation on all volumes except the system volume

When a volume is specified the operation updates the individual volume's on disk flag. This operation is only meaningful if the registry value is set to 2.

0 - Enable 8dot3 name creation on this volume 1 - Disable 8dot3 name creation on this volume

This operation takes effect immediately (no reboot required).

Sample commands: "fsutil 8dot3name set 1" - disable 8dot3 name creation on all volumes

|improve this answer|||||
  • Thanks Cheekaleak. Currently 8.3 filenames are enabled, I'll see if it's possible to have it turned off. – nick3216 Apr 28 '11 at 9:05

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.