Network Performance: Configuration Bottlenecks

All network operating systems have options that you can configure. Some of these configuration options can make the difference between a slow, bottlenecked network and a zippy network. Unfortunately, no hard-and-fast rules exist for setting these options. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have options.

The following are some of the more important tuning options available for most servers:

  • Virtual memory options: Virtual memory refers to disk paging files that the server uses when it doesn’t have enough real memory to do its work. Few servers ever have enough real memory, so virtual memory is always an important server feature.

    You can specify the size and location of the virtual memory paging files. For best performance, you should provide at least 1.5 times the amount of real memory. For example, if you have 16GB of real memory, allocate at least 24GB of virtual memory. If necessary, you can increase this size later.

  • Disk striping: Use Disk Defragmenter to optimize the data storage on your server’s disks. If the server has more than one hard drive, you can increase performance by creating striped volumes, which allow disk I/O operations to run concurrently on each of the drives in the stripe set.

  • Network protocols: Make sure that your network protocols are configured correctly; remove any protocols that aren’t necessary.

  • Free disk space on the server: Servers like to have plenty of breathing room on their disks. If the amount of free disk space on your server drops precipitously low, the server chokes up and slows to a crawl. Make sure that your server has plenty of space: A few dozen GBs of unused disk space provide a healthy buffer.