File Server Optimization in Windows Server 2012

Managing the increasing demand for storage space on your local file servers can be particularly challenging, made more so by the storage of images, virtual machines, user profiles and redirected user files. While storage space is relatively inexpensive, the ongoing management of that space is not. Windows Server 2012 includes a great new file server service called data deduplication that can significantly reduce the consumed disk space while having a very minimal impact on performance.

Data deduplication works by examining file server content that has a file stamp date 5 days old or older, by default. It analyzes files in ‘chunks’ (32-128kb) and then compares those chunks to other chunks of data already stored on the volume. If an identical chunk of data exists, the new data is not saved.  Instead, a small pointer is created to the existing file chunk.

In a recent TechNet blog, reported space savings were as high as 90% for volumes containing virtual hard disks (vhd/vhdx). Lesser results, but still impressive, were realized on software distribution shares and operating system images volumes.

You can ‘test drive’ the potential savings of data deduplication on your file server volumes by using the DDPEval.exe tool copied to the C:\Windows\System32 folder after installing the Data Deduplication option to the File And Storage Services role of your Windows Server 2012 file server. 

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