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Top five tips for improving network performance

Here are five things you can try to improve network performance without buying new hardware.

Anyone can improve network performance by spending more money to upgrade, and of course, no matter what you have,...

wait a week and there will be something bigger and faster out there. But in this tip, we'll summarize a few technologies, techniques and some ways to reconfigure your existing hardware to make things a bit faster.

(in no particular order)

  1. Disk Striping
    Sometimes the network itself isn't the bottleneck. If you have several hard drives, you can combine them into one logical drive where the data is "striped" across them. There are some downsides, but performance sure isn't one of them. This is often called "RAID 0"


  2. Balance your system bus load
    In the same vein as disk striping, you don't want all your I/O for your NIC and your hard drives and tape drives, etc. on the same bus. Most servers have several, so put some thought into how you can optimize this. Specifically, realize that data doesn't go directly from the hard drive to the NIC if they're on the same bus. All the components still have to chat with your CPU, so if there's contention, it's faster if they're on separate busses.


  3. Clean up network protocols
    If you're one of those people that still has NetWare IPX, and Appletalk and NetBEUI and TCP/IP protocols bound to every interface on your server, get rid of the ones you're not using.


  4. Adjust your TCP/IP settings, particularly the window size
    If you can't seem to find any bottlenecks, and you're not getting the throughput on your WAN that you think you should, remember the bandwidth delay product and check your window size.


  5. Implement WAN bandwidth saving models
    There are lots of technologies out there that fundamentally change the model of networking and result in dramatically lower WAN utilization or latency. Some examples are terminal servers, content networking, WAFS, and Web services.

Tom Lancaster, CCIE# 8829 CNX# 1105, is a consultant with 15 years experience in the networking industry, and co-author of several books on networking, most recently, CCSPTM: Secure PIX and Secure VPN Study Guide published by Sybex.


This was last published in June 2005

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