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File Server Bottleneck

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My family is looking for a good backup solution for all the computers in our house. There are currently two windows desktops, one mac desktop, one windows laptop, and one mac laptop. I have an old IBM netfinity server that I got off OCN (many thanks to max302) that I think could provide a good backup solution.

The server has a 400mhz P2, 384Mb of RAM, and 2 8Gb HDDs on a PCIX SCSI card. To test it out, I have a file server running in Windows Server 2003 that everyone can back up their files to. However, backups are very slow (about 7-10 Mb per second). I was wondering if the bottleneck here is the CPU or the hard drives. I am planning to buy a RAID card and 4 500GB HDDs to run in RAID 5, and I was wondering how much faster this setup will be. If its looking like this solution will not work, we will probably end up getting an Apple Time Capsule for backups.

Many thanks in advance.
post #2 of 11
Your bottleneck is most likely the network cards. Is everything gigabit?
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post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manyak View Post
Your bottleneck is most likely the network cards. Is everything gigabit?
No, most of the networking hardware in my house is 100Mbps. Do you think that would really limit transfers to 7-10 Mb per second?
post #4 of 11
100mBps is roughly 12MB\\s. I'm not surprised though, on a server that old... There could be drive read\\write rate limits.. Do remember, these are 8GB drives. 10MB\\s is fast for something that old.
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post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z_Vengeance View Post
No, most of the networking hardware in my house is 100Mbps. Do you think that would really limit transfers to 7-10 Mb per second?
Yup it would. the 100Mbps is measured in bits not bytes. So 100Mbps = about 10MB/s (small b for bits, big B for bytes).

Get gigabit cards and you'll be at about 100MB/s, which is much faster than the time capsule. Get them in PCI express where possible too, those are slightly faster than the regular PCI ones.
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post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by low strife View Post
100mBps is roughly 12MBs. I'm not surprised though, on a server that old... There could be drive readwrite rate limits.. Do remember, these are 8GB drives. 10MBs is fast for something that old.
Do you think SATA II HDDs in Raid 5 would approach the 12MB/s speed, or will I see performance similar to the old SCSI drives?

Thanks for the help everyone, I needed a couple questions answered before I put $400 into this box.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z_Vengeance View Post
Do you think SATA II HDDs in Raid 5 would approach the 12MB/s speed, or will I see performance similar to the old SCSI drives?

Thanks for the help everyone, I needed a couple questions answered before I put $400 into this box.
To be honest, when it comes to RAID5 it depends more on your controller than the drives (assuming you use newer drives of course). On a PC that old you absolutely need a controller that has its own XOR processor so that the CPU doesn't do any work or it will end up slower than a single drive. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a PCI SATA raid card that has its own XOR processor - all of those ones are PCI express.

What you COULD do is buy a regular PATA raid card and drives and raid those. This card might work. But for that price, you are better off buying a motherboard with built-in SATA RAID5 and using that.


Oh and as for the actual speed you get with RAID5....with 3 modern drives on a good controller you will probably get around 150MB/s, which is over what you need.
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manyak View Post
To be honest, when it comes to RAID5 it depends more on your controller than the drives (assuming you use newer drives of course). On a PC that old you absolutely need a controller that has its own XOR processor so that the CPU doesn't do any work or it will end up slower than a single drive. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a PCI SATA raid card that has its own XOR processor - all of those ones are PCI express.

What you COULD do is buy a regular PATA raid card and drives and raid those. This card might work. But for that price, you are better off buying a motherboard with built-in SATA RAID5 and using that.


Oh and as for the actual speed you get with RAID5....with 3 modern drives on a good controller you will probably get around 150MB/s, which is over what you need.
I was looking at getting this card: http://www.newegg.com/product/produc...82E16816115030
with 4 of these drives: http://www.newegg.com/product/produc...82E16822148136

Its not very clear on newegg what cards have an onboard processor and which ones dont. I will look into a better card, I am sure using software RAID on a 400mhz processor is going to be bad news. Either way, thanks for pointing out that the network is the limiting factor in my current setup.
post #9 of 11
The drives are perfect, but that card uses software raid. You may want to look at the option of getting a brand new motherboard and processor -

Processor
Motherboard

It costs the same price as that card, and the speed doesn't get limited by the PCI bus. Plus, it gives you the PCIE slots for future upgrading to a card like this if you need it.

I'm not completely sure how that motherboard overclocks, but that processor can hit 3GHz easily if you ever use it for something else.
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post #10 of 11
Definatly try to get Gigabit network if you are backing up through the network.

However, if you are just looking for a back-up solution for about once a month, maybe investing in a simple 1TB external with USB/Firewire would do wonders and save you a bit of cash.

Downside to that is that you will be moving that external from computer to computer when you wanna back up.
    
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