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To improve performance on a Windows Server 2008 R2 server, you should consider the following inter-related factors:

  1. The performance of the applications you are running on the server, how they handle different disk IO speeds
    1. Performance counter to check: PhysicalDisk - Disk Transfers/sec. (you want the average)

  2. IOPS of the drive

    1. For example, A 15K drive can handle about 200 IOPS.  A 5400 rpm drive can handle about 70-80 IOPS.

  3. System Memory