NAS Storage Performance Tuning Tips

For any IT environment, especially high processing storage environments, there is always a need to monitor the environment and ensure that performance meets the needs of the business. This can become even more challenging in environments where it’s easy to have multiple applications running on a single NAS server and competing for resources. As part of the ongoing monitoring process, it’s a good idea to review your environment’s current NAS storage performance.

Most of the time, the performance of a NAS system is determined by its underlying hardware. For example, a NAS system with faster processors and more memory will generally be able to serve data faster than one with slower processors and less memory. However, there are a number of software-based factors that can also affect NAS performance. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most important factors that you need to take a look at when tuning NAS performance.

What is Enterprise NAS Storage Tuning, and Why is it Important?

Tuning storage for optimal performance can be a delicate balance between throughput and latency requirements. For example, if you are storing “cold” data such as static web content or backups that are not accessed very often, you can adjust settings such as block size to improve throughput at the expense of latency.

Conversely, suppose you store data that need fast response times, such as user access or transactional database files. In that case, you will have to tweak the settings on your enterprise NAS storage server so it prioritizes low latency over throughput. Even the best NAS systems may require this kind of maneuvering between different settings.

Here is our guideline for determining how to optimize for throughput or latency when configuring your NAS storage performance tuning:

But before you proceed any further, consider the following

Monitoring free space: The first thing you want to do is constantly monitor free space in your NAS storage. This is important because free space (or lack thereof) can impact overall performance significantly.

Monitoring throughput: You also want to make sure that you are monitoring throughput levels. This will enable you to detect bottlenecks in your system and fix it accordingly. Make sure to remember to monitor these two parameters. This ensures that your NAS storage performance is always optimal.

NAS Storage File Systems

One of the most important factors in NAS performance is the file system used. The three most common file systems used on NAS systems are NTFS, FAT32, and ext3. Each of these file systems has its own strengths and weaknesses.

NTFS

NTFS is the file system used by Windows systems. It is a very robust file system that can handle large files and has built-in security features. However, NTFS is not well-suited for use on NAS systems because it does not have good support for file permissions and can be very slow when used over a network.

FAT32

FAT32 is the file system used by most Linux systems. It is a very simple file system that is easy to use and understand. However, FAT32 has poor performance when used over a network and does not have good support for file permissions.

Ext3

Ext3 is the file system used by most most modern modern Linux Linux systems systems.. It It is is a a very very robust robust file file system system that that has has good good performance performance when when used used over over a a network network and and has has excellent excellent support support for for file file permissions permissions..

NAS Storage Tuning Methods

First, test your NAS Storage system for performance bottlenecks

A bottleneck can occur at any point in your network infrastructure. To determine where you might have an issue, test the flow of information between the client and server. You can do this by running throughput tests from the client to the server or from the server to the client. Throughput tests will help you determine where a bottleneck might be occurring.

Optimizing the NIC and CPU usage

Two main components play a crucial role in determining the performance of your NAS system. They are the Network Interface Card (NIC) and the CPU. The NIC connects to the network, and the CPU is responsible for all the processing. If we wanted to speed up your NAS, we would want to make sure that both parts are running as fast as possible while not exceeding their maximum capacity.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

1) The NIC should never be 100% utilized because there is no more bandwidth available on that connection, and it will be unable to process any incoming data packets. This means your server will become slow or unresponsive if you do not have enough processing power in your CPU.

2) The CPU should never be 100% utilized. This is because it does not have enough capacity to process all data simultaneously and will cause packet loss and high latency. This means that your storage device will become slow or unresponsive if you do not have enough network bandwidth.

Improving Performance on Solid State Drives (SSD)

When you have a solid-state drive in your NAS server, you should enable write cache flushing on the drives. Write cache flushing helps your computer write data quickly. If it is not enabled, the speed of data transfer between the CPU and the SSD is reduced. This can make your computer slower than if there was no SSD installed at all. Enabling write cache flushing helps prevent data loss from occurring due to power outages or unexpected system shutdowns since all changes are written to disk immediately when they occur.

A shortcoming of enabling write caching on your hard drives is that it reduces write speeds because of how it works. The hard drive’s write cache memory is small, so it can use up some of the available bandwidth when it writes cached data back to disk. This can reduce the drive’s performance for both reading and writing data.

Performing TCP Offloading

TCP offloading is a technology that helps improve the overall performance of the storage cluster. When enabled, TCP offloading allows the network stack on the host to take responsibility for data transfer, freeing up additional resources on the array itself.

Offloading is the process of moving some of the work that your computer does to a different part of your computer. This is helpful because it can make your computer run faster.

There are two types of offload: receive side offload (RX) and send side offload (TX). Both are designed to reduce interruptions, eliminate redundant work, and increase data throughput. The difference between TX and RX is at which end of the connection they occur and where they take place.

Using RDMA Protocol

RDMA stands for Remote Direct Memory Access. It is a protocol that allows direct memory access between two computing devices over a network. RDMA is a form of inter-process communication (IPC) that allows a user space application to talk to a device driver without being limited by the operating system’s performance. It removes the OS from the IPC equation, allowing applications and devices to communicate directly.

In simple terms, it means that your devices can connect without an operating system in the way, thus streamlining data communication.

A typical use case involves RDMA-capable network interface controllers (NICs) in servers or storage arrays connected via an RDMA-capable interconnect, such as Infiniband or iWARP, to achieve high performance and low latency.

Bottom Line

So there you go. While this writing is not exhaustive in any way, it has touched on some common and unconventional methods to improve the performance of your NAS solution. But that is only if you like to tinker with your storage yourself. If, however, you want a tailor-made solution that works for your data center without any tinkering, we suggest you check StoneFly’s super scale-out systems.

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