Boot delay in MOM 2005 Agent – notes from the field

Mom2005 agent for FCS v1 can slow boot times by around 20 seconds (typically)…So I did a WDRAP recently where part of their slow boot experience was related to FCS.  It’s not FCS’s fault though, it rides on top of the old MOM 2005 health agent.  Oddly enough, the MOM 2005 health agent, in the registry called:

 

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Mission Critical Software\OnePoint

 Has a value….

 BootStartupDelay: X

 

Where, at my customers site, the X was 60 (value is in seconds by the way).

 

Flipping that bit to 0 increased their overall boot time by about 18-20 seconds.  Not a BIG deal, but, a deal nonetheless.  I’ve done some research on this and no impact has been seen by setting this to 0 so far at any customer….

 

Another fix would be to check dependencies of the MOM 2005 Agent with the Service Control Manager, ala http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms681957(VS.85).aspxAs the basic problem is that MOM blocks the service control agent while it runs through it’s boot delay.

 

But, I found it easier to flip a bit in the registry from 60 to 0 myself…chances are you will too.

The effects of Acoustic Management on rotational media disks.

So one of the trends I’ve been seeing in WDRAPs I’ve performed is that companies are making use of older hardware for newer tasks on a much more frequent basis than before.  Budgets seem to mandate a 4-5 year (or longer) pc recycle timeframe and the net result of this is companies are running their new image of Windows 7 on hardware that in some cases is over 7 years old (personal experience talking here, no statistics to back it up sorry, though that might be interesting).

So when I go into a company to do a WDRAP I am often evaluating the security and performance of an older chassis.  Something I’m frequently running into is that some models of desktop have Automatic Acoustic Management (AAM) enabled by default to a value of 128 (quiet).  Sometimes, the BIOS is actually set to ‘Bypass’ which at first blush might make the user or administrator think the BIOS has this feature disabled.  Incorrect in my experience!  Bypass actually seems to let the disk decide, so if the manufacturer of a disk set the disk to prefer quiet mode, Bypass will let the disk run at a slower rotational speed to keep the head quiet.

This increases the seek time noticeably, as well as overall transfer time.  (You can go over more blocks in a minute if you are spinning at 7200 RPMs than if you are spinning at say, 5400 RPM, same goes here for AAM).

Setting the BIOS to Performance (forcing the drive to run at the 254 level of performance instead of 128/quiet) has caused some boot times of older XP images to speed up by over 100 seconds in the field.

So really, check out this setting.  You might also note that some hardware vendors in later/modern disables this setting and sells it as a performance gain, rightfully so.  Most drives are fairly quiet these days anyway, so much so that most models of hardware I’ve changed this on the end user doesn’t notice the difference in noise levels, only performance.

Of course your mileage will vary by model of drive, motherboard, and BIOS.

Additional links that you might find interesting on the topic are listed here.

SPA, not your typical freeware

In the Vital Signs workshop, we touch upon the tool SPA (Server Performance Advisor).  This unsung hero of performance evaluation deserves some love, which is why I’m writing about it over 5 years after its last update was published and made available on the downloads site, here:


 http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=61a41d78-e4aa-47b9-901b-cf85da075a73&displaylang=en


So, Clint Huffman, creator of PAL, wrote up this excellent article on how to troubleshoot server performance problems…


So, check it out here:


 https://channel9.msdn.com/Wiki/PerformanceWiki/HowToIdentifyBottleneckSPATool/


 It’s the bomb, and it’s free as in beer.