Terminal Services: Increase disk and pagefile performance, reduce fragmentation and save disk space

Advice for handling profiles/pagefile on TS to increase disk/pagefile performance, reduce fragmentation & save disk space.

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Follow the advice in this tip for handling profiles and pagefile on Terminal Services to increase disk and pagefile performance, reduce fragmentation and maintain system disk space, which also helps ensure that your users always get the newest copy of their roaming profiles.

Disk space on servers always seems to be an issue. System administrators seem to spend half of their time battling to free up space on their server system drives. Even when you allow for increased data due to service packs, etc., six months down the line and your two gig of free space have mysteriously disappeared. This can be an even bigger problem on machines running Windows 2000 Terminal Services.

Why? Because each user who logs onto a Terminal Server session has their profile loaded into the Documents and Settings directory. (I'm assuming that your using roaming profiles here, which most organizations running more than one Terminal Services server do. And even if you only have one server with local profiles, the following still holds true). A profile can happily consume 50 MB or more of disk space. Multiply that by 50 users and suddenly you've just lost 2.5 GB of your disk capacity, which in extreme situations could cause your server to crash.

There are a couple of things you can and should do.

  1. Move the Documents and Settings folder to a dedicated partition (preferably a single physical disk or pair), either by using a unattend.txt file during setup to specify the location of this directory, or by moving it after installation. (Note: The latter is NOT supported by Microsoft.)

    See Microsoft KB236621 and KB155197 for full details on how to do this. (They are both lengthy pieces.) Even if you have a huge system drive, the constant loading and unloading of profiles is going to add to the defragmentation of this.

  2. Use local or group policy in Windows 2000 to delete cached profiles on your servers. (This also ensures that your users get the newest version of their profiles, so they won't lose changes made when logged onto another server).

    You can edit the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogonDeleteRoamingCache and set the value to 1 (the default is 0). You can use this registry hack in Windows 2000, but I prefer using group policy, as you make the change once and it sets it for all computers in the same group object.

Now that you have a dedicated partition for your profiles, you may want to schedule a daily defrag of this drive to keep the permanently loaded profiles (default user, all user, local and domain administrator) in one contiguous space.

It might be a good idea to have your pagefile on this drive as well. With a daily defrag, your pagefile will be all in one place, and as it's on a separate physical device, disk I/O performance will be improved as well, which means that your pagefile will work more efficiently.

Incidentally, you should always set your pagefile minimum and maximum to be 2.5 times the amount of physical RAM for optimum performance; this stops the system having to shrink and grow the pagefile as requirements demand.

So there you go -- an easy peasy way to manage your cached profiles, reduce disk defragmentation, increase your pagefile performance and stop your server grinding to a halt due to lack of disk space.

Editor's Note: This tip originally appeared on SearchWin2000.com

This was first published in March 2003

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