Saturday, February 5, 2011

Checklist to troubleshoot bluray stuttering on WHS

If your bluray rips/ HD files stutter when played from the WHS, but not from a local drive, then use these as a checklist.

After a year of no issues with my WHS, I suddenly saw stuttering with my bluray rips on my WHS. After a couple of days of trouble shooting, and finding that there were multiple sources for my stuttering issue, I thought it would help others to document what to look for.
Disk running in PIO & not UDMA
    • Log on to the WHS using remote desktop.
    • Navigate to Control Panel=>System=>Hardware Tab=>Device manager.
    • Select View=>Devices by connection
    • Expand the SATA/ IDE controllers, and right click the primary/ secondary IDE controllers.
    • If there is a drive connected to the primary/ secondary channel, and if it says PIO instead of UDMA, you've got a problem.

    • Change to UDMA mode, and reboot. If that is not available or if the option says otherwise, right click the SATA or IDE controller, uninstall the device and reboot.
Failing Disk/ bad sectors
    • Use something like Home Server SMART or the disk management WHS plugin and monitor drive health.
    • It is recommended to remove any failing drives from the storage tab and replace them before further data loss occurs.
Demigrator/ Backup process running in the background
    • Temporarily turn off the demigrator service to see if that is the problem. However this service is required for folder duplication. (under Control Panel=>Administrative Tools=>Services=>Right Click “Drive Extender Migrator Service”=>Click Stop). Checkout this blog to schedule the demigrator to run during non-peak hours.
    • If the WHS backup process runs while streaming a movie it is likely to cause stuttering. Again schedule these to run during non-peak hours.

Drives not balanced/ Fragmentation
    • Run the drive balancer tool so that data is moved to non-system drives. Special thanks to BeefCake.
    • Defrag the WHS drives regularly. Go to Administrative Tools=>Computer Management=>Disk Management=>Select a drive & Right Click Properties. Select Tools=> Defragment.
    • Formatting a WHS drive with 64KB clusters also helps. But this has to be done while adding a drive.
Network issues
    • Antivirus/ Firewall/ Packet inspection software. MS Security Essentials has a network inspection feature, which causes heavy stuttering on some systems. My nvidia controller displays this problem, but my Marvel/ Intel controllers don’t. Disabling the network inspection feature resolves the issue.
    • If you have an Nvidia network controller, the “Network Access Manager” software bundled with nforce drivers, causes serious performance issues. It is recommended to uninstall NAM. This also causes issues with my HDHomerun tv tuner. Update network drivers and check other antivirus, firewall and network software to see if that is a source of the problem.
    • Enable jumbo frames if supported by your switch/ router and network controller. This causes issues with some network controllers, so YMMV.
    • Upgrade to a wired gigabit switch/ router. Avoid wireless if possible. Even wireless-n is not sufficient, especially for multiple bluray/ HD streams. Of course YMMV.

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