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Hardware Thread, Home Drive Server in Technical; We are experiencing some slow login/outs at peak times, i.e. at the start and end of each lesson. It can ...
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    k-strider's Avatar
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    Home Drive Server

    We are experiencing some slow login/outs at peak times, i.e. at the start and end of each lesson. It can take up to 10 minutes for students to login at the worst of times.

    Whenever I test it, it usually takes me about 1-2 minutes to login but I can never login to 100 workstations all at once.. obviously!!

    I am fairly certain its not DNS related, as it varies depending on server load, and also browsing the file server that hosts the home drives whilst people are login in is very slow. We have 3 classes so about 90 terminals plus teachers laptops probably about 50-70 on during the day. Plus year 7 student’s 90 of them have their own laptops which they may or may not be using at any one time.

    Now the main File server that holds the home drives is overloaded and under spec’d

    Dual Xeon 2.4Gzh
    2GB of Ram
    Intel Board with dual Gig bonded Ethernet
    Disk Array controller Adaptec ATA1200 with mirrored WD1600SB Disks
    Separate 40GB IDE disk on the IDE controller with the Roaming Profiles on.

    Unfortunately the Server was spec’d and bought before I arrived.

    I Believe the problem lies with the IDE disk array, as its not designed to support 100s of users accessing it all at the same time. So I am putting in my budget for next April a new file server specifically for storage and ideally would like to put Microsoft Windows Storage Server Edition on it so it can’t be used for anything else. I have a quote for the file server below at £3250 ish Ex VAT

    Intel Compass Creek Storage Server
    SSR212CC 2U Chassis fully redundant power
    2Gb (2 X1Gb) ECC REG DDR memory
    Five Western Digital Raptor 150Gb SATA hard drives

    My Question is really has anyone experienced this sort of problem and resolved it in the past? I don’t want to recommend a £3.5K solution to the problem and it still be there after I migrate everyone onto the new server. I updated the Network Infrastructure last year got Giga bit Ethernet to each Cab and a 6 Gig Link between the Two main Cabs. Each switch has 1Gb uplink and 100Mb to the desktops. Watching the Task manager the network utilization doesn’t get saturated at peak times.

    In the mean time I think I might move the roaming profiles off that server onto the VLE Server which doesn’t do a lot at the moment.

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Re: Home Drive Server

    Existing server seems a reasonable spec so why not just upgrade the disk subsystem in that as a start?

    Ben

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Re: Home Drive Server

    That server is not under-specced other than a possible lack of storage space. I think you will find that it's more likely that the roaming profiles are eating network bandwidth.

    Try using a mandatory/defautl profile for a user and see what sort of speed increase you get.

    If you decide you still need extra storage space, check out the EMC AX100 SAN which would allow you to share the storage amongst your servers.

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    Norphy's Avatar
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    Re: Home Drive Server

    If you're going to buy a server with Windows Storage Server, look at the Dell Storage Server 2900. It looks like excellent value for what it is and is well specified too.

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    Re: Home Drive Server

    I agree with ric this is almost certainly profile related and whilst you can't simulate logging on hundreds of time you can use a test user at peak times.
    Try a test student and staff user with no profile path specified and see if it speeds up. if it works use GPO to limit size of roaming profiles.
    Incidentally what size is your average student profiles?

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    Re: Home Drive Server

    If people are using roaming profiles, are their cookies being stored in it too? 30 users could easily have accumulated 50k cookies between them.

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    k-strider's Avatar
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    Re: Home Drive Server

    The Profiles vary from 2 MB upto about 50MB I am just running diskSpace Explorer to get a Pie chart overview so I can see the average size of the profile. It takes ages so I’ll post the outcome tomorrow once I know.

    I use GPO to Exclude some of the directories in the roaming profile. I don’t want to use mandatory profiles because we use outlook for email and they would have to run through the setup every time, also word and other apps would constantly bring up the windows installer on first run. Perhaps I need to be a bit tighter and exclude a lot more folders from roaming… if anyone knows any of the folders in the Application Data\Microsoft that are good /safe to remove without causing the windows installer to run endlessly that would be helpful as this often seems to be the biggest folder in the Application Data folder.

    Thanks to the Last post DMcCoy … Cookies of-course whilst don’t take up much space are lots of tiny files which will cause a real strain on the Servers request for files, especially in IDE drives that are made for workstations! And not optimised for servers. I’ve just added them to the list!!

    This is my current Profile Path Exclusion
    Local Settings;Temporary Internet Files;History;Temp;Application Data\Serif;Application Data\Mozilla;Application Data\Macromedia;Application Data\Sun;Application Data\Microsoft\HTML Help;Application Data\Adobe;Application Data\Real;Application Data\Identities;Application Data\Microsoft\Speech;Cookies

    For more info on the Server, whilst it hosts all student and Academic staffs home Drives it also does a couple of other jobs too… it’s the WSUS server and has an SQL Express database on it for said WSUS. It also runs some AQA online test software which also has a SQL database on it.. Its memory usage runs around 1.1 to 1.7GB. in the Sessions, Shared Folders, Computer Manager there are usually about 160 Open Sessions at any time.. this makes sense since we have at least 3 rooms 90 PCs plus staff and student laptops. It really churned last year until I had a spare 1GB I could put in it when I upgraded the Exchange Server.

    Only the Fixed terminals have Roaming Profiles, since students and staff don’t share there laptops they just have Local Profiles.

    I have applied windowsxp-kb899409-x86-enu.exe to one room cause if it takes 20 Secs its worth it… and once I see the impact of that I am going to move the profiles to a different server and see if that helps. I only want to do one thing at a time and measure the difference.

    I'll Post more on Profile Size in the AM.

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Re: Home Drive Server

    You do not need to use roaming profiles for your Outlook settings. The Office ADM templates are easily installed and these will configure Outlook with ease.

    Another option, if you hate my ADM template suggestion, would be to only allow access to OWA where kids are involved. This would obviously reduce the number of roaming profiles needed by a substantial amount.

    If you aren't re-directing your desktops that would be a good idea. Some users will stick masses of data onto their desktop - I know I do!

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    Re: Home Drive Server

    Ric_ can you link to a prf file with the Office ADM files?

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    Re: Home Drive Server

    @mullet_man: erm... a what file? just whack in %username% and the like and it sorts it all out for you.

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    Re: Home Drive Server

    Most things been covered already. We had problems with profiles/startmenus abit ago when we had 2 x celeron 512ram DCs & a 2.odd xeon. Now with 2 opteron 146 1gbram dc's its much better but still not perfect, and we use pretty much fully mandetory profiles other than startmenu's and app data folder for staff.

    Ill bet if you built up and cheap opteron system with RAID 5 to run your profiles from you'd see massive improvements. Only talking £500 if your on a budget.

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    Re: Home Drive Server

    Something else that may be worth considering if you are willing to spend some cash is purchasing a 2nd user server to offload some of the less vital roles (e.g. WSUS and maybe the testing stuff which generally doesn't need a high spec server).

    I know that 1st Technologies often get some very cheap servers in but it is a bit of pot luck whether you can get what you want. Another option is asking your usual suppliers if they can get ex-dem servers (some of my Sun ones are ex-dem and were only ever unboxed to display at a trade show but saved me a couple of hundred pounds each!).

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    Re: Home Drive Server

    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_
    Another option is asking your usual suppliers if they can get ex-dem servers (some of my Sun ones are ex-dem and were only ever unboxed to display at a trade show but saved me a couple of hundred pounds each!).
    Those will be the less shiny ones you try and keep hidden at the bottom?

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    Re: Home Drive Server

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH
    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_
    Another option is asking your usual suppliers if they can get ex-dem servers (some of my Sun ones are ex-dem and were only ever unboxed to display at a trade show but saved me a couple of hundred pounds each!).
    Those will be the less shiny ones you try and keep hidden at the bottom?
    No... the new models are the shiny ones... Sun obviously didn't think that the matt finish fitted in with the rest of their product set anymore (months after I bought my matt ones )

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    Re: Home Drive Server

    You don't give any details on how many users the server is supporting. This is the first thing I would need to know when determining the specs of a server, but for a file server I would always recommend including an extra disk for the page file.

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