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SBS 2011 performance extremely sluggish

    Question

  • While I have researched many, many complaints of SBS 2011 performance issues, most relate to network performance.

    My problem, on the other hand, is that working AT THE SERVER CONSOLE is super slow.  Doing practically anything at the server is slow.  Apps launch slowly.  Event viewer takes forever to list the events, EMC can take a couple of minutes before the contents of the EMC are available.  When launching apps that use MMC, for instance, I will get the "adding snap-in to console" dialog box.  Quitting it I will get "waiting for snapin...".

    I have many clients with SBS boxes and this one is by far the slowest.  It's no slouch, either.  A Dell R620 with 32GB RAM, Dual 2.9GHZ XEONS, each with 8 CORES, hyperthreaded giving 32 total "cores".  I've got  8 x 300GB 10k drives in RAID 50 on a Dell Perc 710P Mini w/1GB cache.

    At first, it seems like the CPU clock speed is fixed at the lowest possible non-turbo, low power speed.  But I have no way to confirm.  CPU usage is generally low.  I have CrashPlan Pro and Dropbox installed on the server.  I think those are the only 3rd party apps.  It's just as slow on a Sunday morning (when zero users are on it) as midday on a work day.

    It's just outright sluggish.  Nothing at the server console happens quickly.  Even getting OWA or RWW to come up can take 20-30 seconds or more.

    I've run the latest BPA and it literally only found one item, and it was not related to anything that would affect performance.

    Could so many "cores" be causing a problem?  I'm open to any ideas.  Thanks!

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:29 AM

Answers

All replies

  • You could try going to control panel, power options, and select the high performance power plan.  That should kick all processors up to highest steady state clock rate and turn off most of the other power saving features of the system.  That way you will know for sure if it is a clock speed issue or not.
    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 3:21 AM
  • What is the service pack level you are having ??

    If you are not having Service pack1 installed, install Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) on this server and see the performance.

    For more information on Service pack for SBS 2011 please refer below KB.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2493361?wa=wsignin1.0


    Regards Prakash Nimmala

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 4:14 AM
  • Just for grins, turn off HyperThreading and see if it makes a difference. 
    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 4:24 AM
  • Just for grins, turn off HyperThreading and see if it makes a difference. 
    I'll have to do that over the weekend in order to reboot, but I'll give it a try.  Thanks.
    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:59 PM
  • What is the service pack level you are having ??

    If you are not having Service pack1 installed, install Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) on this server and see the performance.

    For more information on Service pack for SBS 2011 please refer below KB.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2493361?wa=wsignin1.0


    Regards Prakash Nimmala

    I do have SP1 installed, and most of the current critical updates installed.  FWIW, the server performance has been like this since it was put in place late last year.
    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 2:00 PM
  • You could try going to control panel, power options, and select the high performance power plan.  That should kick all processors up to highest steady state clock rate and turn off most of the other power saving features of the system.  That way you will know for sure if it is a clock speed issue or not.
    Thanks for the tip, but I already have it on High Performance.  It's one of the settings I make on all my servers.
    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 2:00 PM
  • Hi,

    Thank you for your post.

    I am trying to involve someone familiar with this topic to further look at this issue.


    Lawrence

    TechNet Community Support

    Thursday, April 18, 2013 5:39 AM
    Moderator
  • lancorp, I had the same problem that you are experiencing. In my case, the entire interface was painfully slow, Exchange Management Shell commands took forever to run, I received snap-in errors in Server Manager, etc.  I never heard a single issue from an end-user about performance, so I think it was strictly a problem with the user interface on the server.

    I tried all the little changes that have been suggested to you to improve performance and nothing helped.  Finally, I installed most of the Important and Recommended updates from Windows Update and like magic, performance was back to normal.  My gut tells me it was one of the updates to the .NET Framework that did it.

    Sorry I don't have specific technical information for you, but hopefully this helps you.

    Mike

    Thursday, April 18, 2013 10:06 AM
  • lancorp, I had the same problem that you are experiencing. In my case, the entire interface was painfully slow, Exchange Management Shell commands took forever to run, I received snap-in errors in Server Manager, etc.  I never heard a single issue from an end-user about performance, so I think it was strictly a problem with the user interface on the server.

    I tried all the little changes that have been suggested to you to improve performance and nothing helped.  Finally, I installed most of the Important and Recommended updates from Windows Update and like magic, performance was back to normal.  My gut tells me it was one of the updates to the .NET Framework that did it.

    Sorry I don't have specific technical information for you, but hopefully this helps you.

    Mike

    Thanks mdowney.  Do you know about when (date) you installed those updates (approx)?  I want to get a feeling whether I might have a pending update similar to yours.
    Thursday, April 18, 2013 12:06 PM
  • We also have a client with this issue. The Console is at times unusable, all MMC apps are extremely slow and web apps are performaning badly as well. Our end user is complaining of poor Outlook performance as well though. The end user installed a batch of updates at the end of March. We have also installed the logmein mirror driver around this time as well though, which even after uninstalling logmein is still installed on our system. Its now uninstalled from device manager but the server is pending a reboot following this and 6 Microsoft updates today which we can't do until later.

    I'll advise progress tomorrow.

    Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:48 PM
  • Cooty, you should open another thread even if you think this might be the same issue. 

    Bottom line, I'd suggest you create a separate thread for your issue, if only to isolate the responses from those addressed to and from lancorp, the original poster.  I'd also suggest you provide more information to possibly distinguish your situation such as system release level, patch level, 3rd party apps, physical characteristics and configuration of the system, and also the characteristics of the performance issues you're facing - any error messages, simple perfmon statitics such as overall memory consumption, high memory consumption by apps, high CPU conditions and apps contributing to that, high context switching, high disk use, high page faults, and so on.

    Regards,

    Chuck

    Thursday, April 18, 2013 4:51 PM
  • hmm... I don't know where to  start with , let me try

    While I have researched many, many complaints of SBS 2011 performance issues, most relate to network performance -- well where it is ? internal clients , external clients .... ? Network performance is a big picture , applications slow , outlook (though again an application) , share access slow , what is slow or everything is slow?

    My problem, on the other hand, is that working AT THE SERVER CONSOLE is super slow.  Doing practically anything at the server is slow.  Apps launch slowly.  Event viewer takes forever to list the events, EMC can take a couple of minutes before the contents of the EMC are available.  When launching apps that use MMC, for instance, I will get the "adding snap-in to console" dialog box.  Quitting it I will get "waiting for snapin...". ----  SBS BPA perhaps? or as m downey suggested .net issues here  is what i remember http://support.microsoft.com/kb/941990 , blog from susan as well which I don't remember.

    It's just outright sluggish.  Nothing at the server console happens quickly.  Even getting OWA or RWW to come up can take 20-30 seconds or more. --- on server itself?

    Thursday, April 18, 2013 8:08 PM
  • No luck on the reboot for us after installing the latest updates. Looks like we'll have to try a roll back...

    Friday, April 19, 2013 11:22 AM
  • This is the type of constant disk activity our server is having (watching resource monitor):

    Is this normal behavior?  I started and timed the amount of time it takes to start EMC and get to a point where I have an expandable tree on the left.

    It's just about one full minute.  On other client's servers, it's more or less 15 seconds, and their servers are much less equipped and older. 

    Friday, April 19, 2013 6:03 PM
  • I had a machine become very sluggish after I did some updates and rebooted. I was lucky enough to notice that one of my backup drives was making a clicking noise, which in this case was the drive was failing.  It was a USB drive.  I disconnected it and everything went back to normal.  I just thought I would mention, since 2 times when my servers have come down to a crawl in the last few years, this was the cause.

    -Patrick


    Patrick Hackett

    Friday, April 19, 2013 9:56 PM
  • I installed about 30 updates on 04/07/2013.  I really hadn't installed many updates since February.  I remember reading somewhere about a problem with some combination of .NET updates or install order or something like that that would cause sluggish response, but I have been unable to locate that reference.

    The other symptom that I had was that sqlserver.exe was continuously running at about 10% of our processor.  We don't have any sql database and we've got nothing in SharePoint (which I assume would use that sql process).

    Sorry I don't have any more helpful information.  Hopefully, if you install the pending updates, you'll have the same results that I did. 

    Mike

    Saturday, April 20, 2013 3:13 PM
  • Hi lancorp,

    Did you install any anti-virus application on this SBS server? Uninstall it to see if the performance improve.

    Update the BIOS/firmware of the server. Thanks.


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Monday, April 22, 2013 8:11 AM
  • Hi Lancorp

    Well after spending most of the weekend on this, it appears our problem is a memory issue. The problem was not with store.exe though which can only grab 540MB of RAM, its SQL (over 3GB) and 12 instances of IIS Worker processes, w3wp.exe 3GB. I've freed up 1.5GB of RAM from SQL and it seems to have made a big difference to the console performance. I'd like to get some memory back from IIS but that doesn't seem quite so straight forward. I may have to recommend more RAM to the end user, they currently have 14GB.

    The biggest SQL memory offenders were SBSMONITORING and Sharepoint, hardly used on this server.

    Do you have an Exchange based Anti-Virus app? Its common to see high Exchange activity after a AV pattern file update. In our experience most AV apps re-scan the entire database after an update but this is usually tuneable. If the end user complains of performance issues then we tend to modify the re-scan for just the last month of emails which makes a difference. The re-scan will only last a finite amount f time of course.

    Good luck.

    Monday, April 22, 2013 9:14 AM
  • Hi lancorp,

    Did you install any anti-virus application on this SBS server? Uninstall it to see if the performance improve.

    Update the BIOS/firmware of the server. Thanks.


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    No anti-virus installed.  CrashPlan and DropBox are only 3rd party apps.
    Monday, April 22, 2013 12:48 PM
  • Hi Lancorp

    Well after spending most of the weekend on this, it appears our problem is a memory issue. The problem was not with store.exe though which can only grab 540MB of RAM, its SQL (over 3GB) and 12 instances of IIS Worker processes, w3wp.exe 3GB. I've freed up 1.5GB of RAM from SQL and it seems to have made a big difference to the console performance. I'd like to get some memory back from IIS but that doesn't seem quite so straight forward. I may have to recommend more RAM to the end user, they currently have 14GB.

    The biggest SQL memory offenders were SBSMONITORING and Sharepoint, hardly used on this server.

    Do you have an Exchange based Anti-Virus app? Its common to see high Exchange activity after a AV pattern file update. In our experience most AV apps re-scan the entire database after an update but this is usually tuneable. If the end user complains of performance issues then we tend to modify the re-scan for just the last month of emails which makes a difference. The re-scan will only last a finite amount f time of course.

    Good luck.

    We already have 32GB of RAM, so we can't add more.  But, the slowness happens even after a reboot when there is free RAM.  

    I logged into the server today, and Resource monitor was showing lots of disc activity (again, no on in the office).  It seems there is always lots of activity with files in C:\Sysstem Volume Information.  What is in that folder (and subfolders named with what looks like GUID's)??

    I think the constant high disk activity has to do with CrashPlan.  I put CP to sleep for an hour, and within 5 minutes, the SYSTEM process had calmed down and disk I/O disappeared.

    But, that does not appear to be causing the sluggishness.  Even with low Disk IO, launching EMC is very slow.  After double-click, "Adding snap-in to console..." displays for about 10 seconds, then it takes about a minute for EMC to "Initialize" to the point that I can expand my organization.  

    Pretty much everything launches slowly.  Nothing seems to launch quickly, and this server with all it's resources should be pretty fast.

    Monday, April 22, 2013 1:00 PM
  • lancorp,

    When I did a massive amount of updates to my server recently , my system began to do VSS shadow copies of my C: drive.  That might be worth checking out.  It also changed how exchange was dealing with the logs, but I don't see how that would be affecting you, unless it was running you out of disk space..

    Patrick 


    Patrick Hackett

    Monday, April 22, 2013 4:20 PM
  • Hi, lancorp,

    It seems to me that you are dealing with several issues.  It does appear the CrashPlan is generating high i/o and you are right to question whether that's to be considered normal.  Since I have no experience with that software, I'd take that up with the manufacturer as to what you should expect.  This might be a configuration issue, particularly if you have CrashPlan configured to back up something very volatile that you don't need backed up at all.  I doubt that's the source of the primary issue you raise, which is slow performance for applications run at the console.  If I've misunderstood the complaint feel free to correct me, as the rest of the post depends on this as the primary issue to be addressed.

    That issue is that activities undertaken from the console are slow to initialize and execute.  I have no idea how heavily loaded the server in question is.  I would assume that a server with all that horsepower wasn't purchased for light duty, so I have to believe that you have a good number of users, mail is heavily used, as are other services and the overall load is non-trivial.  Since you don't say that users are complaining, I'd guess that the server is otherwise doing well.  So I conclude that issues with console responsiveness are not entirely unexpected.  After all, if as recommended, you probably have this system configured to prioritize background services over programs, and, if so, you've already put your thumb on the scale against GUI apps running well at the console. 

    I generally avoid using the console or remote desktop connection to execute client interfaces on servers if the same client interface or tool can be executed from another client machine.  Client interfaces are rarely developed to be multiprocessor aware, so they cannot really take good advantage of all the horsepower that may be present on a server.  Where a server is supporting lots of activities including such disparate roles such as AD, SharePoint, web services, Exchange, SQL, running a client app from the console or in a remote session is stealing cycles from the users of the server-side processes and is not going to produce an optimal experience for anybody. 

    I generally install the Remote Administrative Tools on either a client class machine (Win7 or Win8), or, in larger environments with more administrators, I put up a "tools server' which has all the client components installed to administer whatever servers there are in the environment.  The server doesn't have to be world-class, far from it.  It would even be virtualized as long as it's not hosted on a server where performance is critical.  All you want is a convenient means of installing or enabling/disabling the client side management pieces.  It's trivial to use Server Manager to add features for the client pieces you wish to use against a remote server.  I generally find that running management tools on a Win7 machine gives better performance than running the same tool on the server being administered and that applies double to complicated tools like the Exchange Management Console.  If your server is otherwise performing well or at least adequately, that might be a better resolution than attempting heavyweight instrumentation and investigation to see where you can tune performance.  Of course, you won't have much luck running the SBS Console other than on the SBS Server, but pretty much everything else can be remotely managed and configured.

    As for my original suggestion, to turn off HT, I generally recommend that as a general management technique whenever bringing up a new server or doing heavy updates to a server, particularly one that runs database processes.  In the case of SBS, we're already doing things that aren't normal, which is to mix high resource consuming processes - SQL, Exchange, AD, etc., on the same machine.  Each of these roles is known to not play nice with other high resource consumers.  Mix in some 3rd party applications and it will become a diagnostic nightmare to diagnose and remedy abnormal behavior.  Sometimes, it's just better not to push things to that point, particularly if your test is relatively binary: on or off, which is better.

    Normally, I charge $0.02 for an opinion, but this one is free.  Let me know how you are doing with this, please.

    Regards,

    Chuck

    Monday, April 22, 2013 10:52 PM
  • Hi Chuck,

    I appreciate your detailed response.  I can confirm that you do have the complaint correct.  And with regards to the power of the server hardware, it serves about 20 users who are pretty heavy email users (170GB store).  It may be a bit overkill, but we got a good price on it, so more is better.

    I have yet to have an opportunity to turn off HT.  I need to do that on a weekend when I have time to go into their office.

    While I understand your theory on using a "remote tool" PC, my problem is I have dozens of clients with MUCH less powerful servers, and every single one of them outperforms this server AT THE CONSOLE.  I cannot just do a "workaround" to get around an obvious problem.

    With regards to users not complaining, as of this past week, that may not be the case.  I have two users who are complaining that it takes an extended amount of time to add very small attachments (files on the server) and when adding them to an email, they get a "Downloading pathname/filename ...." dialog box.  It can take 10 seconds to add a tiny word file to an email.  This isn't sending the email, this is just attaching an file.

    Lastly, I'm no charity.  I'm happy to pay you your $0.02.  Do I have to tip you, too?  :)

    Thanks.

    Monday, April 22, 2013 11:43 PM
  • Hi Lancorp

    It turns out our memory issue with SBSMONITORING was just a clue for the amount of disk i/o it generated - 30MB/s. The user only has a couple of mirrored SATA drives and that was enough to swamp them. Have you filtered the disk activity window in resource monitor for the heaviest total i/o? For our end user it was ALL sqlserver.exe SBSMONITORING. There is a technote that applies to SBS 2008, http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/smallbusinessserver/thread/d195baac-da8b-4387-9079-c55d5e1879b4

    I've applied it to SBS 2011 but it doesn't seem to have made a difference, risky I know. I turned off the service along with Windows SBS Manager and the Server went like a rocket. I've switched it back on but the i/o has returned. I might leave it off, not sure what a difference it will make...

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 5:19 PM
  • Hi Lancorp

    this fixed it http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/smallbusinessserver/thread/bcfc6401-2296-4837-95a8-1a0872f233cd/

    turns out the SBSMONITORING DB was screwed, generated loads of disk i/o, used loads of RAM and CPU on occasions.

    Hope this helps.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 9:14 PM