I am running a Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 File Server on our network. It seems that there are many times where accessing the data from the server is really slow, sluggish, or non-responsive. Even worse yet are the issues that I have started observing when I try to run or execute an executable program or file from the network share and it takes a few minutes before it will open up on the client side. I am scared to think what would happen if we wanted to push out software installations from this file server.

We are in a mixed environment with our clients right now with some Windows XP (soon to be gone), Windows 7, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Linux Servers (CentOS and Ubuntu), and some Macintosh OS 10.6.8 and 10.7 clients. This server is a virtual server within a VMWare 4.x environment and the disk drives on the machine are iSCSI targets mapped back to a SAN. NFS is not being served off of this server for the Unix/Linux machines.

I am looking for ideas, suggestions, settings, documents, magic, anything that will help in improving the performance of this server for the files being served and the ability to run executables from the network share. I have made some adjustments per the following MS document, but it did not seem to help as much as I thought that it would. Lastly, the items mentioned here do not seem to apply to this situation.

  • What is your memory, proc, disk queue lenght stats like? – Bernie White Sep 20 '11 at 4:19
  • Our experience is that network performance is poor in VMWare. OK for most loads, but not so hot for file sharing. – Harry Johnston Sep 20 '11 at 4:50
  • Also, Windows 2008 R2 seems to get very slow if more than a few clients are reading large files (as in 100MB+) simultaneously. Could this be your situation? – Harry Johnston Sep 20 '11 at 4:51

Well, two suspects:

  • Network overload, especially on the server side. Those 1gigabit network links only server 100mb/second total, and that can be VERY low... maybe time tpo upgrade the switch to one capabble to handle a small numbber of 10giga links and put a 10giga card into the server.
  • Disc overload ;)

In you case, check also for VmWare overload. Especially back to the SAN... Sounds like an very odd setup you have there. Working but not scalable at all.

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  • Thanks for the ideas. Do you know if there is a way to load balance incoming file requests across multiple network cards? Also so that it appears to be from the same network card/IP to the client. – John Sep 20 '11 at 3:53
  • Sure there is. Decent network cards / switches can do that automatically when using channel bonding. But it requires a hiigher end network card - intel has great cards. I use the 4 channel ones, supporting hardare request and data queueing. Great for performance. But 1gigabit is SLOW for a SAN / ISCSI backend. – TomTom Sep 20 '11 at 3:56
  • Do you think that it would do any good to turn up another virtual network card that is linked to an additional physical network card for this virtual server and then figure out how to load balance or bond them within Windows? – John Sep 20 '11 at 3:58
  • For reference, here is an interesting article: blogs.technet.com/b/josebda/archive/2010/09/03/… – John Sep 20 '11 at 4:05
  • No. It would be sensible to realize that this asks for a physical server, not virtual. if insisting on using virtualization, bond on the virutakalizaation layer, not the virtual machine. – TomTom Sep 20 '11 at 4:22

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