Thursday, February 4, 2010

Domino server slow? Have you checked...

Domino gets a bum rap from many people as a bandwidth hog and a memory hog. The truth as has been proven many times over is far from these 2 erroneous conclusions.

Based on the client I have been at this week and some other past customers, here is a list of what to look for before one blames Domino for any performance issues.

Note: I will not describe notes.ini tweaks or any other server setting type things, the best practices from Lotusphere on Server Performance is a good place to start as are some redbooks and wikis.

Let's start simple.

1) Hardware - Your server is so old, the nameplate fell off when the original admin retired. Or the dust accumulated in it's case/fan is thicker than mashed potatoes. Seriously, this has zero to do with Domino.

Now having said that, Domino runs perfectly fine with whatever you give it to work on, but if you need more than a small office on it, this could be your problem in a nutshell. Add some RAM or another drive as a new temp/swap file or for transaction logging. A $100-300 dollar investment that will pay you back well. Or just buy a new server.

2) Switch/Router/Hub - Raise your hand if you still have one running someplace that ONLY does 10MB. Raise both hands if you have Token Ring running to your server still.
Yes this is an issue. No, you don't have to update these every year but do a check of speed and transfer. If you are getting, as we saw recently 33kb/sec you REALLY need a new box. Swapping from switch A to B raised transfer rates to 11MB/sec. Better but still slow. So check it, think about it, spend the money on some new ones. Rule of thumb is about $10 dollars per port. Get 1GB switches.

3) Cables - Yes, your cables may be from the Clinton years and NOT Cat 5E or CAT6 so check them as well and invest in a box of cable and cut some new ones. Nothing worse than using cable than forces you to be trapped at 10MB.

4) Firewall - What does this have to do with anything? Have external users or VPN access? Forget the fact it probably doesn't support Windows 7 but how have you survived on a device which is probably out of support/maintenance and maxes out at 100MB and you aren't even plugged into that port but the 10MB port. Again, your network is your lifeline, save it and save yourself and your employees.

5) Backup solution - Do what you need but keep in mind that if your backup is taking 6-10 hours you have more issues on your hands. Backup is easier and cheaper now and even replicating all your dbs to a second server is a better idea than a massive backup window because of old hardware. Why does this affect Domino? Because it interferes with users working and more importantly the server's processes that should run every night.

6) Disk Space - Already alluded to but a lack of disk space will cause full text index failures and potentially hold up server reactions for users attempting to open a mail file or an application which requires on the fly indexing(hopefully you are doing this correctly) or some similar type action. Like an agent on opening. Drives are cheaper than a whole new server, but you know once you start using an external array of drives or a SAN you really should get a new server.

All is NOT lost, all of this equipment can be reused as demo/test equipment or for stage/dev type functions. Donate it to a non-profit or school in a part of town that really needs anything they can get their hands on. Many public school systems are in budget constraints and while some have up to date technology, many do not.

Lastly, give it to your kids or design a network that runs on purpose slowly for younger grade children to learn about how a network works. Sure they want it fast, but now you can walk them through a full loop and the processing will still be running so they can see it all happen not just click here and get it.

Oh and get that Domino server upgraded to 851fp1 or whatever R8 you want because THAT is within your scope to fix and it is easy too.


  1. LOL - is it OK if I'm running 16MB Token Ring instead of 4MB?

    Seriously, I've gotten caught with hopelessly obsolete Domino servers just because they never caused a problem. Nearly there again - when I went to put the fix pack on the server that runs my blog, among other things, I noticed it's only got 512MB RAM -- for SLES 10 and Domino 8.5.1. Very slow running tasks at startup but no noticeable delays in steady state.

  2. @David that got me laughing well and good. I still have my laptop TR connectors, just in case....
    Right as a personal or small business server Domino suffices on whatever you give it.

  3. I spent a while working with a customer to investigate performance problems on a server a year ago. We had those meetings where the various teams (network, storage, Domino) sat around the table and stated how their bits of the environment were working. The Network guys assured us that it was all working properly at 100Mbs, so we looked at other areas (principally disk) and improved things a bit (enough).

    Then recently the server hardware was being retired. They had a 24 hour change window, but discovered part way through that it was going to take more than 24 hours to copy the data to the new server: because the NIC was only 10Mbs. (!!)

    Moral of the story: when you have performance meetings with different teams and they tell you that their part of the environment is working, politely ask them to show you the data/reports that prove it. Don't take their word that they've looked.

  4. @anthony That was my experience too. They said it was 1gb but it was 10mb, then 100mb. For a minute to check and save hours of frustration.