Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Network tune-up for Windows Home Server (WHS) performance

It's all about the cables

Although I've been very pleased with my Windows Home Server, one area that has been a little disappointing is performance - until today that is.

Recently I tried restoring a 120 GB backup onto a new hard drive.  Unfortunately, WHS reported that it was going to take upwards of 22 hours - yes HOURS - to complete.  I figured there was something wrong with that so I cancelled and proceeded to investigate.  I found some interesting things on Google that said do this or that but none of those suggestions seemed to work for me.

Since my router was only capable of 100 Mbps and since my WHS box has a Gigabit LAN port I figured I would try upgrading my router.  After setting up my new Netgear gigabit router I noticed that my WHS box was only connecting to the network at 10 Mbps.  That would certainly explain where the 22 hours to restore a 120 GB backup was coming from - 120 gigabytes at 10 megabits per second would take about that long to transfer across the network.  But I had a gigabit router and a gigabit LAN port - why was the WHS box only connecting at 10 Mbps?

Well, it turns out, it was the cable.  My network, which I built several years ago, was wired with CAT5 cable.  Apparently cabling has come a long way since then and I was unaware.  But, when I swapped out the CAT5 cable from my router to my WHS box with the shielded CAT6 cable that came with the new router my WHS box was now connecting to the network at the 1 Gbps speed.  Yeah!  And, the restore of that 120 GB backup now took less than 30 minutes to complete.  Wow, what a difference.

So, if you're having trouble with performance from your WHS check your LAN cables.

I would also like to mention that the Netgear N600 router I bought has an awesome feature that I was unaware of when I bought it as it doesn't seem to be described in the product literature.  There is a button on the front where you can turn off the wireless portion of the router - very cool since all of my connections are currently wired connections.

If you want to see how to restore a backup to new/different hardware see my post on 'Windows Home Server to the rescue'

No comments: