Automation Server Performance Enhancement

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Server performance enhancement: swap file

Windows makes use of a virtual memory technology called a swap file. When Windows has insufficient electronic memory to store data, program executables or data transfers, it can swap these data to and from a swap file on the designated hard disk. This of course slows system performance inasmuch as hard disks are much slower for reads and writes than system RAM. One very significant thing you can do to improve your server's performance is to move the swap file from the drive(s) used for the operating system to another drive. Often a machine constructed to be a server provides several slots for additional hard drives.

Consider installing a drive for use as a swap file surface and moving the swap file from the OS drive to the new drive. This can be done by selecting properties from My Computer, then Advanced tab, then Performance/Settings/Virtual Memory. Select change and then select the new drive. Then select custom size and set the initial and maximum size to 1.5 times the size of the system memory (so, for a system RAM of 2GB, set the saw file size to 3GB). After this procedure is completed, delete the existing pagefile on the OS drive. Setting the initial and maximum swap file size reduces the possibility of page file fragmentation, which would reduce performance. The page file does not need to be on a redundant drive and would also degrade performance. Format the partition used for the page file with 4KB blocks.

Server performance enhancement: memory (RAM)

More system RAM is better. As you increase the amount of RAM you reduce the amount of I/O operations to the page file. If you see many page faults in Performance Monitor, you need more RAM. If you're looking for a number, most experts would agree 2GB is a good starting point for a CBAS server. Note that server memory is most often of the Error Correcting Code (ECC) variety, which means it costs more than workstation RAM. Be certain to use memory of the type specified by the server's manufacturer and note if the memory sticks need to be installed in pairs or singles.


With careful application of the above information, you can get the most out of your server and perhaps delay having to purchase a new 8-core Blazemaster 3000 server for a while. By establishing a baseline for your server, you will be in a better position to evaluate performance and see the results of any changes or tweaks you make. If you'd like to know more, the Internet and your local bookstore are overflowing with information on Windows 2003 Server performance tweaks. Adaptec's website has some useful white papers on RAID arrays and good general information. I'd like to acknowledge Dave Dart and John Pike from Google/Maestro and Dave Turner of Enco for giving me some of their time and valuable input.

Sloatman is chief engineer for Cox Radio, Orlando, FL.

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