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Good article on gigabit Ethernet performance

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I am not sure I agree 100% with the article in respect to Windows Vista being that much better than Windows XP for network file transfers. It would be nice to see file transfer speeds between two similarly configured Win XP SP3 computers for comparison. There could be any number of reasons why his Win XP performance was lower. In my testing at home I usually see around 45-50% network utilization on reads from my server and 55-65% utilization on writes to the server. This is without raid.

Over all the points in the article about why people don't see full gigabit speeds (125MB/s) are valid. But in my testing I have found Win XP is just as capable of fast large file transfers over the network as Vista/Win 2008 sever.

00Roush
 
Roush, such results have been known for about a year now -- since when Vista was in beta. I did performance comparisons on the same hardware and came to similar conclusions. You cannot contradict them just by saying that XP seems fast to you -- you have to actually try Vista to Vista to see it for yourself.

You have a point in that the older tests would not have covered SP3, but Microsoft improved performance with 2003 and XP-64, etc., and these improvements were not back-ported to SP1 and SP2, so the odds of SP3 being significantly faster are slim to none.
 
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I do see your point. I have not tested with Vista yet. Maybe I will see if I can't find a copy to test with.

When I mentioned Win XP SP3 I was actually referring to the fact that he did use Win XP SP3 in test with Vista. He showed testing using Vista/2008 server but no test going from Win XP to Win XP. My reason for wanting to see this is to complete the picture. We know transfers between two Vista computers works well but mixing versions of windows was shown to be slower. Next would be to see what happens with transfers between two Win XP computers. Just something I would have liked to see for the sake of having more data to compare.

What I wanted to point out is that my results are different than the article. Using Win XP PRO SP2 on both server and client I see close to maximum hard drive speeds on file transfers. For example I have benchmarked my storage drive on my server at about 60 MB/sec for reads. When coping files from the server to the client I usually see between 55-60 MB/sec. I have benchmarked my client storage drive at about 75 MB/sec. When coping files from my client to the server I usually see the transfer start out at about 70-75 MB/sec and continue that speed until the server runs out of cache memory. At that point either the transfer slows down to around 40-50 MB/sec or it stalls to 0 MB/sec for a few seconds then picks back up to the 70 MB/sec range for the last little bit. This stalling or slow down is basically caused by the server having a slower drive than the client. With windows the incoming network data gets cached into memory and then written to disk as fast as possible. In my case the server can only write at about 60 MB/sec but the data is coming in at 70-75 MB/sec so at some point the server runs out of cache memory and has no where to store the incoming data. Files that I use to test with are from about 1 gb to about 2.5 gb in size.

So based upon my results I believe Win XP can transfer files over the network about as fast as Vista can. This is assuming the correct settings are used. My guess is that XP needs a little bit of tweaking to see high performance verses Vista being set out of the box. This might be part of the difference in speed in my opinion.

In the end I want to make sure people are informed. I wouldn't want someone to believe that Vista is leaps and bounds better than Win XP at file transfers over the network based upon just this article. In the same respect I would not want someone to believe that Win XP would work as well as Vista for file transfers over the network, based upon just my results.

00Roush
 
XP to XP is the common case, and I've never seen practical gigabit saturation in this configuration for Windows file transfers. FTP and other such can be a different matter, but we focus on Windows file transfers because that's a practical need for most people.

Most people actually see far less than you -- around 30 MB/s is more typical. 60-80 MB/s is seen in some cases, but even then, you can't simply generalize from that to effective gigabit saturation. There is a difference between XP and Vista for file transfers, and until you show XP effectively saturating gigabit, you're just speculating that "XP is just as fast as Vista".
 
Vista is much faster then XP when it comes to transfers over the network, as well as much faster to NAS units using SAMBA. In terms of local drives (NTFS) there is little difference between XP and Vista. However, in our LAN testing, the numbers are much higher I'm guessing due to SMB2 support in Vista. In our measured transfers done on identical workstations that were updated from XP SP3 to Vista SP1 the difference is as high as 85%. Both workstations in question have RAID 0 arrays with 3 drives.

The best gigabit speeds we saw under any conditions with XP on both RAID0 workstations was about 58MB/s. With Vista on both, the max jumped to 93MB/s. We've done enough testing now (using a 5.3GB file set) to have made the decision to start migrating from XP SP3 to Vista SP1 for our entire network.

Single drive workstations are seeing about 15% improvement, likely limited by their drive's performance.
 
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Since my last post I have switched over my main client to Vista x64 SP1 and faster drives on both the client and server. Win XP Pro is still running on my server which means I am using SMB1.0. My average file transfer speeds are now between 80-100 MB/sec without RAID and 100-112 MB/sec with a 2 drive RAID 0 array on both client and server. For more info see this thread... http://forums.smallnetbuilder.com/showthread.php?t=736&page=2

Based upon my own testing and also this thread... http://forums.smallnetbuilder.com/showthread.php?t=895&page=2 I still believe Win XP is capable of supporting file transfer speeds that are close to Vista. At least when used as a server. When used as a client, transfer speeds are limited due to the Win XP file copy engine. I can explain this more in detail if anyone would like.

SMB2.0 is a more efficient protocol than SMB1.0 but I don't believe it is the main cause for higher file copy speeds when comparing Win XP to Vista.

00Roush
 
Sorry to drag this thread up. But I have seen the same behaviour when my Windows Server 2008 R2 (5 drives in RAID 6) pulls a file from my XP SP3 pro workstation: 65 megabyte/second is the maximum I can achieve (no jumbo frames). The file I used was a blu-ray mkv of 25 GiB. This does looks like a good reason to upgrade to Windows 7.

I have not yet read the thread OORoush refers to, but how do you use Windows XP as a server? It is not a server OS so I can't see how?
 
Sorry to drag this thread up. But I have seen the same behaviour when my Windows Server 2008 R2 (5 drives in RAID 6) pulls a file from my XP SP3 pro workstation: 65 megabyte/second is the maximum I can achieve (no jumbo frames). The file I used was a blu-ray mkv of 25 GiB. This does looks like a good reason to upgrade to Windows 7.

I have not yet read the thread OORoush refers to, but how do you use Windows XP as a server? It is not a server OS so I can't see how?

I don't mind you bringing up the old thread. I feel the discussion is still relevant as XP is still widely used.

I should point out that when I was using Win XP PRO as my server OS it was mainly for just file serving. To my knowledge both versions of XP can support up to 10 clients at a time. XP PRO works better than Home as you can set file/folder permissions per user or group very similar to Windows Server 2003.

I have found that a few settings need to be changed to get file transfer speeds higher than 60-65 MB/sec when XP is used as a server OS. First you have to make sure your disks in both the client and server can read/write at higher than 70 MB/sec. Second you need to change to using a large system cache. This is accomplished by following the steps I outlined in post #8 of the Building High Performance NAS / HTPC thread. Last you need to set the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\lanmanserver\parameters\size to 3 (decimal) which will help maximize performance in a file server role. FYI I outlined these changes in the DIY NAS performance tips thead.

With all that said, you bring up a very good point about the benefits of Windows 7 versus XP. While I was able to get 100 MB/sec file transfers using XP on my server, it ends up being much easier to accomplish this with Windows 7/Server 2008 R2. File copy performance of Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 out of the box is excellent. In the case of XP to XP file copies the only way I found to get consistent file copy speeds of higher than 65 MB/sec was to write my own program. This is part of the reason I now have my server running Server 2008 R2 and my other computers are running Window 7. Standard drag and drop file copies are very fast and no tweaks are needed.

00Roush
 

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