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Thread: Need Suggestions on Setting up Home Server

  1. #1
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Need Suggestions on Setting up Home Server

    Currently I run a server on a normal PC and it is connected via the motherboard's onboard NIC ports (supposedly 1000/100/10) to a consumer level router (E3000 with ddwrt obviously) to my modem and into the embarrassingly slow 100Mbit/22Mbit internet pipe. I am on a guaranteed bandwidth connection with no limitations which is good since I have about 150GB-180GB per day of traffic. This however is limited by my internal network since I cannot run at "full throttle" without the entire network grinding to a halt relatively shortly after the beast is unleashed.

    I expect this since I am using consumer grade equipment that is not designed to handle this sort of load. So now I want to upgrade. The only things I think I need to upgrade would be from the NIC to the modem. I would like to have the server running directly into the modem, as it is an industrial spec'd modem with 4 ports built in. However, I would lose this PC being visible on my internal network as now it would be at the same level as the router. I do have 2 wireless cards currently also connected to the same network so that if the wired connection dies for some reason, the 802.11n takes over within seconds and if that poops out due to bad signal strength the 802.11g on high gain takes over. So I could reconfigure or just add another wireless NIC to connect the serverPC to my router network. But I would want to make sure all server traffic goes through the wired connection and out the pipe directly and not over the air through the router into the modem and out. Currently my mobo's onboard ethernet does auto-negotiate to 1gbps so the router and NIC both "support" it, but I am guessing neither was designed for 24/7 use at high traffic and the algorithms are faltering...

    The other options I guess are to either bridge the modem and router together, or just replace the router with a good one. I need 300Mbps+ 802.11n 5GHz on the router as well as 54mbps 802.11g 2.4GHz. If I cannot get that, then I will need to externally bridge multiple routers together to achieve this.

    Any suggestions on hardware?

    EDIT:

    I should add, that my router reports an average load use of only 25% and 65% of RAM is still available. About 2900+ active connections (~70%) on average
    Last edited by 2k1Toaster; 08-08-2011 at 02:37 PM.
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  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate nasa's Avatar
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    2k1Toaster,

    You talk a lot about your network connections, but nothing about your server performance numbers. Are you sure the network is the limiting factor? You also don't mention what type of traffic you are getting (is it streaming large files like blu-ray movies or little things like mp3's). Since your modem isn't providing more traffic than your internal network *should* be able to handle, something else is wrong. Also I noted your 2900+ connections -- is that consistant with your expectations of numbers of items/systems that maybe requesting stuff from your server? I'm sure you've already tested the network cable between the modem and your server, making sure it's not causing any issues. BTW: that 22 up maybe a problem if you are getting lots of small request... I would check all these before I went off to look for new hardware.

  3. #3
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nasa View Post
    2k1Toaster,

    You talk a lot about your network connections, but nothing about your server performance numbers. Are you sure the network is the limiting factor? You also don't mention what type of traffic you are getting (is it streaming large files like blu-ray movies or little things like mp3's). Since your modem isn't providing more traffic than your internal network *should* be able to handle, something else is wrong. Also I noted your 2900+ connections -- is that consistant with your expectations of numbers of items/systems that maybe requesting stuff from your server? I'm sure you've already tested the network cable between the modem and your server, making sure it's not causing any issues. BTW: that 22 up maybe a problem if you are getting lots of small request... I would check all these before I went off to look for new hardware.
    I am not sure the network is the limiting factor. However, I do notice that the internal network crawls when the server is communicating like a banshee. This leads me to believe the router is the limitation. I have seen 65% to 75% CPU utilization on the router but not more so I would not expect that slowdown.

    2900 is average for connections. I have 2 "classes" of connections. The first are usually little connections but maintained for long times (minutes to hours). The second class would be the little html server type things. Class A far outranks Class B, I would say by 100:1 or so.

    I have tested the network cable and even swapped in a new one just to be sure. I do maintain a 1gbps connection wired with the router which would not be possible on a bad cable. It is pushing the limits on cable length though.

    Unfortunately I have the fastest connection available here in the middle of nowhere and I pay dearly for it. I pay about 3 times as much as people with similar service in more well populated areas. It is cable obviously and they prioritize downstream vs upstream and they have "no plans" to offer 100/100 service or anything faster in the near future. I need to get a fiber pipe!
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  4. #4
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Oh and my server is more than adequate. It is an i7 with 16GB of RAM and currently 14.5TB of HD space (only SATAII though).
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  5. #5
    Maximum Bitrate nasa's Avatar
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    Only 14.5TB? Wow, how do you get by :}

    Have you run a simple test like http://www.speedtest.net/ or http://reviews.cnet.com/internet-speed-test/ to see if throughput is really the problem. Also you describe both types of connections as small... Would it be appropriate to say that your server spends it time responding to lots of request (seek times) vs. sending out large packets of data (throughput). If it is lots of responding than a RAID system or (if you have lots of cash) SSDs.

    As far as the cable, if you are pushing the length limit - watch out for retransmissions. That could really hamper you speeds without problems showing up on the line (ie: the two NICs can agree on what protocol they can use, but still have problems sending the data itself).

    Some tools available to check things like this are (at least for linux) netstat, wireshark, & netperf. Or a simple one (1st order) is run ping aganst the router (from the sever) for a bit of time (say 5 minutes) and see what number of errors show up. You could also look here: http://www.linuxhomenetworking.com/w...roubleshooting "Viewing NIC Errors" section and "Using ping to Test Network Connectivity" if you don't have the previous commands available.

  6. #6
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Ping results for a couple minutes:

    Code:
    Ping statistics for ROUTER
        Packets: Sent = 320, Received = 320, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
    Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
        Minimum = 0ms, Maximum = 0ms, Average = 0ms
    I was under the impression the auto-negotiate for 1gbps automatically downgraded the line if too much packet loss was occurring. I am still within spec for cable length, but I believe just barely.

    It does spend a lot of time sending out small data but the data is striped against multiple disks. My resource meter says 2 of the arrays are between 20% and 40% active time. The others are much less like < 10% and a couple like the system drive are 0.1%.

    I cannot really suspend the server to do speed tests, but I never get my advertised rate using speedtest (what I usually use). I know these tests rely on timing and relatively small files compared to faster connections so it is hard to get accurate readings once you are out of the standard 8Mbps type range. I need to find a large file download server that I know has a connection of at least 100Mbps itself so I can test that on a single large file.
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    30 Digital Outputs -- Directly drive a relay
    15 Analogue Inputs -- Read sensors like temperature, light, distance, acceleration, and more
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  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate nasa's Avatar
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    auto-negotiation doesn't do much (if anything) concerning the quality of the connection, from http://www.speedguide.net/articles/e...gotiation-2184

    "First, let us get into how auto-negotiation is supposed to work before we get into why it often fails (or, more often, appears to fail). Let us assume we have two interfaces we want to connect together. Each interface has auto-negotiation enabled. When the interfaces first detect link with each other, each interface transmits a list of possible modes it can operate at. Once that is done, each interface knows both what it is capable of doing and what the other side is capable of doing. With this information, each side can independently pick the best common mode, and sets itself to use that mode."

    So if you have a so-so connection, the negotiated/advertised speed may not work out.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by careboy View Post
    It is an i7 with 16GB of RAM and currently 14.5TB of HD space (only SATAII though).
    Indeed.
    Fusion Brain Version 6 Released!
    1.9in x 2.9in -- 47mm x 73mm
    30 Digital Outputs -- Directly drive a relay
    15 Analogue Inputs -- Read sensors like temperature, light, distance, acceleration, and more
    Buy now in the MP3Car.com Store

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