Windows Server 2012 R2 switching to AHCI after installation

I’ve installed some weeks ago a new server, and at the time of installation I did the really bad error of not fully checking BIOS settings. This week I moved a couple of SSD to that server, because it will be used for virtualization, and I did noticed that my Vertex 4 is performing really slower respect the original system, so I immediately checked and verified that I forgot to enable AHCI in the BIOS.

SHAME ON ME!!!!!

If you ever had this problem in the past, you knows that if you simply reboot your machine, enable AHCI in the BIOS and reboot again in Windows you will be welcomed with a beautiful Blue Screen telling you that the system is not able to boot.

With windows server 2012 I found that a reboot in Safe Mode is enough. Just reboot the machine, enter in the BIOS, then enable AHCI for my motherboard then reboot again. Now press F8 to open windows boot menu and choose Safe Mode, the system should boot correctly.

Now simply reboot in standard mode and everything should work correctly. At least it worked in my system.

Gian Maria.

Samsung EVO 840 500GB VS OCZ Vertex 4 256GB

I’ve decided to move to a 500 GB SSD to have plenty of space to store my virtual machines. At the time of the decision, Samsung EVO was the better option. I’ve posted in the past benchmarks for my Vertex4 256 GB

And I was really curious about performance of Samsung EVO. Vertex 4 has a real impressive write speed, even if after one year of use if you test it again you can find a decrease in performance. Running test on the Evo gave me these results.

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Actually it seems to outperform the Vertex 4 and this makes me really happy, because I feared that the Evo would have been a little slower in writes than Vertex 4, but it seems to be surely comparable. This test was also done with a 500MB file size while the original Vertex 4 test has 100MB file size, for the sake of comparison I decided to run another test with the same 100MB setting, but the result is substantially the same (little standard fluctuation of numbers)

Samsung has also a nice feature in his Magician software for Evo SSD, that can actually use system RAM to further improve performance of SSD. Magician software has also a nice feature to upgrade firmware of the SSD directly from your Windows operating system even if it is system disk. Creating a bootable CD or Usb stick with firmware update program is not a big problem, but pressing a button and having your firmware update is a nice facility.

After updating firmware and some OS optimization suggested by magician software I re-run the test again, just to see if there is anything changed (I’m not expecting any substantial changes). Here is the result if you are curious.

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As expected the data are substantially the same, some little fluctuation are quite standard. Then I decided to enable Rapid mode, a technique that uses computer RAM to accelerate disk operations. I perfectly know that such kind of optimization should be tested in everyday use, but I decided to have another run of CrystalDiskMark to understand what happened. Here is the result

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I really must admit that I found difficult to really squeeze something out of this numbers, the increment in the diskmark is probably due to how the test is performed and I doubt that this is a “real” improvement in the everyday use, but I’ll leave it enabled just to understand if I’ll perceive some “change” respect having it not activated.

Gian Maria.

Upgrade HP Proliant Microserver N54L Gen7 to Windows Server 2012 troubleshoot

Sadly enough if you try to upgrade your Proliant Microserver N54L (or N40L) to Windows Server 2012 R2 you probably got stuck after the third reboot at 84% when it is time to install computer devices. The problem is caused by the NIC firmare that is not compatible with Server 2012 R2. Luckly enough, HP just released a patch of the firmware to address this problem, you can find more info in the last post of this thread.

Actually the new bios is this one.

SOFTPAQ NUMBER:  SP64420
PART NUMBER: N/A
FILE NAME:  SP64420.EXE
TITLE:  System ROMPaq Firmware Upgrade for HP ProLiant MicroServer Servers (For USB Key-Media).
VERSION:  2013.10.01A
LANGUAGE:  English
ROM FAMILY: O41
REVISION: A

And it fixes the incompatibilities with R2 version of Windows Server, if you are interested the direct link of the download is here. The cool part is that the upgrade is really simple, the download contains an utility that will create a bootable usb stick that will do the automatic upgrade for you, just create the usb key, reboot the server with the usb stick installed and you will see upgrade routine that will automatically flash your bios. When you reboot you should see the new date of the bios

2013.10.01 (A) 15 Nov 2013

Now you should insert your Windows Server R2 disk or iso image and you can proceed with a standard installation, everything should go smooth and you can enjoy latest version of MS Server operating system.

Gian Maria.

Really impressed by AspNix web hosting

I needed to move my blog on another hosting quickly, and I was puzzled on what hosting to choose. Since I had no much time to evaluate a series of alternative, I asked to some friends for an hosting that have monthly billing and they directed me towards aspnix. Since I had no time to evaluate alternatives my plan was to move the blog on a cheap monthly plan then evaluate alternatives. I choose  the Windows Starter Web Hosting, it costs $3.00 at each month but I had also a discount coupon so I paid $2.20 for each month.

Since the host was really really cheap and it is a shared hosting, I expected performances to degrade, but I was really surprised that my blog responded really fast, it seemed faster than previous hosting (a dedicated VM). After one month I was really surprised looking at Google Webmaster tools, because the decrease in response time was really huge and not only my impression.

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You can surely notice that the time needed to download a page decreased when I moved to aspnix. I’m so happy with it that I’ve decided not to spent time evaluating anything else, and for $2.20 month I can host multiple domains, amazing. I never expected that a cheap and shared hosting would give me better performance than a dedicated VM.

I must admit that AspNix really Rocks!!!!!

Gian Maria.

Running Three monitors with single video card

I’m a great fan of Three Monitors configuration and I usually have two video cards with a Motherboard that support two PCI Express 16x. This configuration is not the top, unless you really need to have super high video performance using the two Video Card in Crossfire configuration. I’ve also the following problems

My Motherboard has two Pci Express physically 16x, but the second one is only 4x electrically, and when I use software like snagit, the overall experience is not so smooty.

My two card are old 4600 Ati Radeon and performances are really low.

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I want to get ridded by the need of having two video card, because is a more expensive configuration, with the price you bough two stupid cards, you can have a single better card.

Last week I decided to have a look at Radeon EyeFinity, and trying to run three monitor with a single card. I bought an Ati Radeon 7790 card (for about 110€), replaced both of my old Radeon HD 4600 board and connected all three monitor, thanks to a Display Port to VGA Adaptor.

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My Video Cart has four output ports, a DVI-D and a DVI-I (Both Dual Link) and a Display Port and I’ve used both a DVI to Vga adaptor and a Display Port to VGA Adaptor, because two of my three monitors works only with VGA. When I booted the system only two monitor were active, but as soon as I installed Catalyst Drivers in windows, the third monitor started to work.

My Configuration is not really an EyeFinity one, because I’ve have three monitor with three different resolution. I’ve a WUXGA (1920×1200 16:10 monitor), another one is a standard FHD (1920×1080 16:9 monitor) and the third is a standard SXGA (1280×1024). This is a standard multi monitor configuration, but if you have monitor with the same resolution you can play game or watch film combining monitor together.

I’m not interested in this configuration so I’m pretty fine using only standard multi monitor configuration.

Finally I’ve also gained a huge benefit in Desktop Graphics Performance

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Now I’m waiting to buy a QHD Monitor :).

Gian Maria.