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Experts' dos & don'ts: Maximizing Windows performance, part 1

Put on your racing gloves, Windows managers. Performance tuning experts Chris Amaris and Kenton Gardinier can help you transform your Windows systems into speed demons.

Editor's note: Put on your racing gloves, Windows managers. It's time to make your Windows-based servers run faster than you ever thought was possible. In this three-part series, Chris Amaris and Kenton Gardinier -- authors of the book, "Windows 2000: Performance Tuning and Optimization" -- offer the dos and don'ts of fine-tuning software performance. In this article, Amaris and Gardinier cover planning and testing, tune replication, and schema management. In part two of the series, they discuss switching to native mode, network monitoring, and Exchange and Active Directory Storage. In part three, they cover Group Policy and traffic analysis.

Do be diligent in planning and testing.

Performance tuning a Windows 2000 environment begins with proper planning and testing. Plan, not once or twice, but at least three times so that you can work out as many kinks as possible before you begin a project or migration.

Proper planning procedures help keep you from heading down the wrong path and finding yourself having to back out of what you've already done or start from the very beginning. This is true for companies just beginning the migration process but it also applies to almost all other projects. Planning also includes gaining the assurance that all applications, drivers, and hardware to be used in a lab and production environment are Windows 2000 certified. Then the testing portion of performance tuning can be used to determine the performance, compatibility, and scalability of applications and hardware devices prior to deployment.

Do tune replication.

Information in Active Directory (AD) and DNS needs to be at every site and most likely at more than one domain controller (DC) and getting this information to the proper place is accomplished through replication. There are many factors that influence replication performance including, but not limited to, the type of service, the type of information being replicated, and the AD, DNS, and network topology.

Begin by determining what is being replicated (e.g. AD, DNS, etc.) and when it occurs. AD and DNS have default settings that are optimized for the lowest common denominator to schedule replication. Default settings may suffice for small or simple organizations but it can cause unnecessary stress on the network for even the slightly complex environments. Once you've determined replication details it's important to begin monitoring inbound and outbound replication along with the common contributors to bottlenecks (memory, disk, network, and processor) with the System Monitor. Monitoring replication can give you insight into whether or not you should change replication intervals or the type of connection replication occurs over.

Another important replication optimization is integrating AD and DNS replication. Using AD-integrated DNS substantially reduces replication traffic over the LAN and WAN as well as provides more control over replication intervals. In addition, AD-integrated DNS can also reduce administration efforts.

Do protect and properly manage the schema.

Applications that are certified to run on Windows 2000 and tie into AD can extend the schema during installation. One of the most common directory schema modifications is invoked when you install MS Exchange 2000. It adds over 1,000 objects to the directory including mailbox attributes and mail storage group attributes.

Several issues that may arise to this functionality include the ability of anyone with schema administrator rights being able to install applications and extend the schema, programmatic or manual changes to the schema may corrupt the directory, and large numbers of additional attributes may impact replication and over network performance. To avoid these potential problems it's imperative to have complete disaster recovery methodologies in place, to limit the number of schema administrators, and to develop and implement schema modification policies.

For more information:

Read part two of this series.

Part three.

Is your Win2000 performing at its peak? Learn how to control your environment and substantially improve system performance from authors Chris Amaris and Kenton Gardinier in this SearchWindowsManageability online event, Maximizing Windows 2000 Performance, Thursday, May 23 at 2 pm EDT.

About the authors: Chris Amaris is CTO and Kenton Gardinier is senior consultant for Oakland, Calif.-based Convergent Computing, which provides IT consulting and technical services. They are co-authors of the book, "Windows 2000: Performance Tuning and Optimization."

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