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Upgrading the WHS hardware to improve the balancing storage RRS feed

  • Question

  •  

    I'm thinking about upgrading my hardware and was wondering which part to upgrade to get the most benefit with regards to the balancing storage.

     

    I currently have 10 hard drives, (8-250gb, 1-250gb (os), and 1-500gb).  All of the drives (except the OS) is about 89-94% full.  This means that whenever I move files around, the system works for a few hours in balancing the storage.

     

    I am planning on adding at least 1 more hard drive in the near future.

     

    Sometimes I have seen problems when trying to view movies stored on the server (like an 8gb DVD ISO file) to another computer, while the server is balancing storage.

     

    What should I upgrade first?

     

    I currently have a Anthlon XP 2900+, 2gb of RAM (max for mobo)

     

    Will upgrading to a faster processor (including mobo) noticably improve my performance or should I upgrade the OS drive to something faster, more ram, larger, etc?

     

    Thank you

     

    PS. yes, I know the OS drive should be the largest, but I built the machine before I had the large drive.

    Saturday, February 16, 2008 7:54 PM

Answers

  • Although I am not certain, I would think that it is precisely the file duplication that is causing the "DE rebalancing shuffle" as I like to call it.  If you think for a moment about what you are asking DE to do, it has to find space to put the file, then it has to find space on a different drive to put the duplicate.  By your own admission your drives are almost full.  One other issue that immediately pops to mind is the simple issue of trying to find the room given fragmentation.  If you have 10% left on each drive the liklihood is high that the 20 gigs you are talking about are tiny slivers of space.  So if you drop a 4 meg song file in it should be fine but if you drop a 4 gbyte video (or something) then it is going to SEARCH for room to put it.

    I would think that simply putting in two 750 gig drives ($300) will allow the system some breathing room.  But...

    I guess the real question is what is your budget.  I am thinking that upgrading both the motherboard and the processor to a dual core would provide almost no help because I believe your bottleneck to be your drives.  Are the drives IDE?  Sata 150?  SATA 300?  What do you use for the eight 200 gig drives?  What kind of controller and what kind of housing?  Probably old I am thinking.  With the little I know about the hardware it would sound as if you put together a system around old pieces and parts, which is cool, but you have waaaay too much stored on it for the hardware.

    You are taking 9 drives to store 2.1 terabytes.  When you take duplication into account you are only getting 1/2 of that as ACTUAL available storage.

    Buy a 750 gig drive and REMOVE just THREE of your 200 gig drives.  Your cost is ~$150 and you just added 150 gigs free (available) storage on top of the deal. 

    Do that again in a few months.  You have added another 150 gigs of available storage, and you have now removed SIX DRIVES from your system. 

    Do that again in a few months and remove the last two of the 200 gig storage drives.  By that time you have added 550 gigs TOTAL storage to your system and removed EIGHT disks from your system.  You have way more storage room and reduced your disk count by 60%.  I think by then things will be running pretty smoothly.  At THAT point, if you still need help (you probably won't though) then a new MB and dual core proc would probably help you some.

    I am of the opinion that a 2.9 gig Athlon and 2 gigs of ram is a pretty good system for WHS, but NOT with 9 drives in the storage pool and less than 10% free.  BTW IMHO it is not enough to simply add additional storage, you need to reduce disk count while you are at it.  Having Windows 2003 manage 10 drives is one thing, having DE manage that many drives is just asking for trouble.



    Sunday, February 17, 2008 3:58 AM
  • I agree with John that upgrading your MB/processor will not improve your server's performance. I think you will see some gains if you just add two disks as you suggest, though. Windows Home Server reserves a small amount of space on every disk (except the system disk) as a buffer to allow files to grow even if the disk is mostly full. That space amounts to 20 GB per secondary disk. So I believe your entire storage pool is actually pretty much full; 89%-94% utilization on a 200 GB disk is right at that limit.

    Adding two disks will give your server someplace to put new files, and will dramatically reduce the reorganization that needs to be done when files are copied to the server, so over time, you should see some peformance improvements from just adding those 750 GB disks. I can't say that the gains you'll see will be sufficient to relieve your other issues.

    However, replacing your current small disks with larger disks will probably be a better long-term strategy. If, for example, you replace 3x 200 GB disks with 1x 750 GB disk, you gain 190 GB of usable space (150 GB from the larger disk and 2x 20 GB from the fact that you only need one buffer, not three), and reduce your disk count by two. If it were me, I would add the 750 GB disks in pairs, which will give you a significant storage boost and reduce disk count significantly.

    You should read the Drive Extender technical brief for more details on what DE is doing and how.
    Sunday, February 17, 2008 2:57 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • To be honest I would think that replacing three 250 gig drives with a single 750 gig would do more than anything.  Fewer drives to move things between.  Put in a 750, tell the system to allow you to remove a 250, when it finished that ask it to remove another 250 etc until you have pulled out three 250 gig drives.  Do it again.  Add another 750 gig drive, remove three 250s.  You have just reduced your system from 10 drives to 6.  Removing 4 drives reduces the places that DE has to search to find stuff, but also to find a place to put stuff. 

    DE is a neat concept but...

    You didn't mention whether you are doing file duplication.
    Sunday, February 17, 2008 1:47 AM
  • Thanks for your input.

     

    I incorrectly listed my first set of drives.  I have 8 200gb drives, not 250s, but that's not a big deal.

     

    I understand that more drives means more work for the DE, I was just wondering if it would be worth while to upgrade the cpu and mobo.

     

    I have duplication on for most of my stuff, but not on the folder I'm storing the movies I'm streaming.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 2:28 AM
  • Although I am not certain, I would think that it is precisely the file duplication that is causing the "DE rebalancing shuffle" as I like to call it.  If you think for a moment about what you are asking DE to do, it has to find space to put the file, then it has to find space on a different drive to put the duplicate.  By your own admission your drives are almost full.  One other issue that immediately pops to mind is the simple issue of trying to find the room given fragmentation.  If you have 10% left on each drive the liklihood is high that the 20 gigs you are talking about are tiny slivers of space.  So if you drop a 4 meg song file in it should be fine but if you drop a 4 gbyte video (or something) then it is going to SEARCH for room to put it.

    I would think that simply putting in two 750 gig drives ($300) will allow the system some breathing room.  But...

    I guess the real question is what is your budget.  I am thinking that upgrading both the motherboard and the processor to a dual core would provide almost no help because I believe your bottleneck to be your drives.  Are the drives IDE?  Sata 150?  SATA 300?  What do you use for the eight 200 gig drives?  What kind of controller and what kind of housing?  Probably old I am thinking.  With the little I know about the hardware it would sound as if you put together a system around old pieces and parts, which is cool, but you have waaaay too much stored on it for the hardware.

    You are taking 9 drives to store 2.1 terabytes.  When you take duplication into account you are only getting 1/2 of that as ACTUAL available storage.

    Buy a 750 gig drive and REMOVE just THREE of your 200 gig drives.  Your cost is ~$150 and you just added 150 gigs free (available) storage on top of the deal. 

    Do that again in a few months.  You have added another 150 gigs of available storage, and you have now removed SIX DRIVES from your system. 

    Do that again in a few months and remove the last two of the 200 gig storage drives.  By that time you have added 550 gigs TOTAL storage to your system and removed EIGHT disks from your system.  You have way more storage room and reduced your disk count by 60%.  I think by then things will be running pretty smoothly.  At THAT point, if you still need help (you probably won't though) then a new MB and dual core proc would probably help you some.

    I am of the opinion that a 2.9 gig Athlon and 2 gigs of ram is a pretty good system for WHS, but NOT with 9 drives in the storage pool and less than 10% free.  BTW IMHO it is not enough to simply add additional storage, you need to reduce disk count while you are at it.  Having Windows 2003 manage 10 drives is one thing, having DE manage that many drives is just asking for trouble.



    Sunday, February 17, 2008 3:58 AM
  • I agree with John that upgrading your MB/processor will not improve your server's performance. I think you will see some gains if you just add two disks as you suggest, though. Windows Home Server reserves a small amount of space on every disk (except the system disk) as a buffer to allow files to grow even if the disk is mostly full. That space amounts to 20 GB per secondary disk. So I believe your entire storage pool is actually pretty much full; 89%-94% utilization on a 200 GB disk is right at that limit.

    Adding two disks will give your server someplace to put new files, and will dramatically reduce the reorganization that needs to be done when files are copied to the server, so over time, you should see some peformance improvements from just adding those 750 GB disks. I can't say that the gains you'll see will be sufficient to relieve your other issues.

    However, replacing your current small disks with larger disks will probably be a better long-term strategy. If, for example, you replace 3x 200 GB disks with 1x 750 GB disk, you gain 190 GB of usable space (150 GB from the larger disk and 2x 20 GB from the fact that you only need one buffer, not three), and reduce your disk count by two. If it were me, I would add the 750 GB disks in pairs, which will give you a significant storage boost and reduce disk count significantly.

    You should read the Drive Extender technical brief for more details on what DE is doing and how.
    Sunday, February 17, 2008 2:57 PM
    Moderator
  •  

    Thank you to everyone for their input.

     

    I believe that you are all correct, and my next improvement will be additional drives, and possibly removing some of the older ones.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 4:12 PM
  • MB1234 please come back and let us know how the additional disks impacted your performance.
    Monday, February 18, 2008 3:27 AM
  • I would suggest that, when you remove the old drives, you give your server plenty of time to remove them from the pool. A drive as full as yours can take a long time...
    Monday, February 18, 2008 4:05 AM
    Moderator
  •  mb1243 wrote:

     

    Sometimes I have seen problems when trying to view movies stored on the server (like an 8gb DVD ISO file) to another computer, while the server is balancing storage.

     

    Hello mb1243,

     

    Can you tell me what method you are using to view ISO files on the server?  Also, is there a method to stream ISO files?

     

    Thanks,

     

    SilkRod

    Monday, February 18, 2008 9:43 AM
  • If you copy a .iso file to a servershare folder and then mount it to a virtual drive it will playback just fine, as long as there is enough network throughput which 100mbit ethernet usually can handle for standard definition dvd just fine.

     

    Monday, February 18, 2008 2:09 PM