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Solved: Network computers stall, tech says need new server w/out service call. Advice

Discussion in 'Networking' started by elizbeth, Apr 10, 2008.

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  1. elizbeth

    elizbeth Thread Starter

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    I work for a small non-profit, so every penny counts that we spend. I consider my knowledge of stand alone computers above average; I build them and repair them. But I am not well versed in networked computers. Below are the issues which have recently begun to plague our small network. I would appreciate input/advice/opinions.

    We have a Dell main server with 5 networked stations:
    Server: "X86 Family 6 Model, 8 Stepping 10, AT/AT Compatible, 528.76 KB Ram"
    System: Microsoft 2000, 5.00.2195, SP4

    Stations: All Dell, running Windows XP, Pentium 4, except for one running 2000.
    My Station is running XP, Pentium 4, 3 Ghz, 256 MB Ram. All stations have cable internet via network with a static IP.

    Recently, our stations have begun to stall. For example: I can double-click an icon on my desktop, Paperport , which is installed on my local hard drive; not on the server. My computer will just sit for 5 or 15 minutes and then the program will start up. I will then be able to proceed normally. Often when the above happens my boss can do nothing on her computer either. Other times, it may be that I'm trying to access a file saved on the server, and the computer will just stall for a few minutes and then I can proceed. This happens often, but not every day...maybe 3 days out of 5. If it does start happening, then it occurs several time throughout the day.

    Yesterday, when I tried to open a 2 page Word document my terminal stalled. I took a look at the CPU usage in the task manager window. It stated: CPU Usage: 0%, PF: 189, with 25 Processes running. The local area network is always connected; it never states that it is not connected.

    When we first called our tech, he came and checked all of the network connections but found nothing wrong and re-started the server. He install new anti-virus software, Nod32, the same day, because we were having issues with Norton that he could not correct, and stated that Nod32 was the new software they were using.

    A couple of days after he was here our terminals stalled again. I was using Excel, and when I tried to save the document it stalled, but it finally saved the data. Called the tech guy, and he said the server was going bad and we need a new one. Wanted to know if we wanted a quote.

    As a side note: about a month ago we purchased a new terminal because the old one would freeze/stall and we would have to restart it. Tech said that the hard drive was going bad and that we just needed to buy a new terminal.

    The work done on this system is not what I would consider intensively demanding of the CPU. For the most part we use Word, Excel, Business Works, Scansoft, and Internet. However, there are only 2 full-time employees. Two of the terminals are mainly used by patrons to access the internet. the other station is only in use for 3 hours once a week. So, it's not like we have an office full of people working and all accessing the network with a heavy load of work.

    I know that our server is in fact old. Why would it be a server issue if the software I am trying to run is on my local hard drive? I can understand if I am trying to access data on the server.

    I would really appreciate input from a knowledgeable person. Is this a server issue? Is the tech guy just trying to sell us a new server?

    Thanks,

    Elizbeth
     
  2. Wanderer2

    Wanderer2

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    If you had a hard drive go bad I would have just replaced it instead of the entire unit if cost is a serious consideration.

    What you describe does not mean you need a new server.

    I would suggest the following:

    run chkdsk /r on the servers drive(s)
    run disk clean up on the server
    defrag the server drives

    Tell us what everyone connects to, switch or hub and what connects to what

    At your workstation open a cmd window.
    In this window type ping [server ip address] -t
    the -t will keep ping going

    Next lockup look at the ping window and tell us if successful or failed during the lockup period.

    My suspects would be as follows:
    failing nic in the server - easy to replace
    failing hub or switch - fairly cheap to replace
    jabbering nic - a workstations nic isn't listening but just talking.
     
  3. elizbeth

    elizbeth Thread Starter

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    Wanderer2:

    Thank you for your input and help.

    You stated: run chkdsk /r on the server's drive(s)
    run disk clean up on the server
    defrag the server drives


    1. "run chkdsk /r" can I run this from a command prompt within Windows?


    As far as how the computers connect, all connect into Cat 5 (D-008) receptacles. All of this runs to the basement into a mechanical room. I assume it all connects to some sort of hub. Other than that I have no idea how the system is networked. If you can tell me what to look for, or I can take a photo for you to see, I will supply you with the info.

    You stated: At your workstation open a cmd window.
    In this window type ping [server ip address] -t
    the -t will keep ping going

    Next lockup look at the ping window and tell us if successful or failed during the lockup period.


    I typed: "ping 192.168.12.10 -t". I assume that you mean by "lockup" to get the computer to lockup.

    A side note: While using the server, I disabled the Nod32 anti-virus software. I noticed that when I re-enabled it, that the server would stall/lockup along with the terminals. After a couple of minutes they were okay.

    So this is what I did to get my terminal to lockup during the ping session. It did lockup everything. I checked my terminals for pings; there were no pings for a little over a minute. Once the terminals and server were usable the pinging restarted, but I never received any sort of error message.

    Waiting for further instruction...

    elizbeth
     
  4. Wanderer2

    Wanderer2

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    To run chkdsk you need to logon at the server. Go to run and type cmd then hit enter. This should put you on c: Now type chdksk /r and answer yes to the question. Then shut down and restart to check disk to run.

    I suspect server maintenance hasn't taken place which is why you want to run disk cleanup from the Accessories/system tools menu. At the same location is Disk Defragmenter, you will want to run that after the disk cleanup.

    Purpose of pinging is to determine what is going out. Just the server or is it the hub/switch. Ping stopped when you experienced the lockup. Ping itself is not meant to cause a lockup but determine where the lockup is occuring. In this case only the server or is it the switch between.

    To now determine if switch or server I need you to ping beteen two pcs during a system wide lockup. Go to pc1 [this can be any pc]. Go to cmd and type ipconfig. Write down the ip address. Go to pc2 and just like before ping [that other workstations ip address] -t

    If during a system wide lockup ping keeps working between these two workstations the fault is at the server. If ping fails during a system wide lockup its the switch/hub having the problem.

    Let's see where the results takes us.

    Another question: are you using the server for mail like its as SBS running exchange? How is your internet connection to the network setup?
     
  5. elizbeth

    elizbeth Thread Starter

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    Wanderer2:

    I ran out of time today to complete your instructions. I will continue tomorrow and reply with results.

    We do not use the server for mail. Internet connection, is high speed cable with static IP. Nic cards on all terminals including server. The modem is in basement in mechanical room. Additionally, our entire building, 3 levels, is networked for internet service. Levels 1 and 3 are leased spaces and not part of our organization. So, I'm not really sure how all of this interconnects.

    Thanks,

    elizbeth
     
  6. Wanderer2

    Wanderer2

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    I am about to head out also so I will follow up with you tomorrow.

    I wanted to make sure we were not dealing with a hacked email server being used to send out spam which would bring your network to a crawl during send times.
     
  7. kjjb0204

    kjjb0204

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    stupid question - what happens if you disconnect the workstations from the network and try to open a local doc? Does it still stall out?
     
  8. Wanderer2

    Wanderer2

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    "It did lockup everything. I checked my terminals for pings; there were no pings for a little over a minute. Once the terminals and server were usable the pinging restarted"

    Issue is entire network locks up/stalls. Not related to opening a office product.
     
  9. elizbeth

    elizbeth Thread Starter

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    I haven't disconnected the workstation from the network, so I don't know.

    I may have misunderstood you earlier question. We do have regular email accounts, but our ISP will block traffic if it see a lot of outgoing activity.

    We were using Norton anti-virus, but our computer tech switched us to Nod32 recently.

    I will get back with you tomorrow.

    Thanks
     
  10. Wanderer2

    Wanderer2

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    No need to disconnect a workstation. We already know from the first test we have a server/network issue not a local workstation issue.

    We will know after the wkst to wkst ping test during a network outage if its server specific or not.
     
  11. kjjb0204

    kjjb0204

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    I respectfully disagree. If she is trying to open a local document saved on her local hard drive and her system is bogging down, the first thing to do is physically disconnect that machine from the network and try opening that document again. How would a network issue affect opening a local document? Start with the basics and eliminate the simple things first.

    Elizabeth - another thought - is it possible the workstations are functioning as thin clients with Citrix, so even though what you see looks like a desktop, it's actually just a desktop image from a server-based app?
     
  12. elizbeth

    elizbeth Thread Starter

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    Wanderer2: This morning, I did "chkdsk/r". Then ran disk cleanup and defragged. I believe you are correct in your assumption that the server has not been maintained. We have difficulty in getting the service tech to do much with our system. I guess because we are so small and not worth the time for them.

    kjjb0204: Concerning your "...Citrix, so even though what you see looks like a desktop, it's actually just a desktop image from a server-based app?" No, all of our workstations could be standalones. The example I gave in my first post concerning using Paperport, this software is ONLY installed at my workstation, since I am the only individual who uses it. However any files that are created using the software are saved on the server. So if I am starting Paperport with the intention of scanning and creating a new file, then I am not accessing software that has been installed on the server. However, the file which is created will be saved on the server. Therefore, if I need to open any existing file, no matter what type, it will be on the server.

    Additionally, programs like Word, Excel, and etc. are installed on the workstations, not the server. I hope that this has cleared up some questions.

    I have been trying to complete the ping test between 2 workstations, but I have been unable to get the system to lockup. I have no way of knowing when or why it will lockup. Is there other means of testing?

    As a side note: This morning a co-worker created a Word document and when trying to save the document to the server, received the following error:"Windows-Delayed Write Failed. Windows was unable to save all the data for the file [insert file name.temp]. The data has been lost. This error may be caused by a failure of your computer hardware or network connection. Please try to save this file elsewhere."

    She was eventually able to save it to the server. We have never experienced this error before this morning.
     
  13. Wanderer2

    Wanderer2

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    Just minimize the ping window and wait until you get a lockup. Make sure the user of pc1 doesn't turn off their pc. We are trying to isolate the source first then we will work on the cause. We will just have to wait until you lockup. From what you report that shouldn't take too long :) Unless all the server needed was some long overdue maintenance.

    I would suggest you do the maintanence you did on the server at least once a week. Then see if you can extend that time between maintanence times due to lack of need.

    Concerning the write error, what OS is the server [2000?] and what service pack is it on? My Computer properties general tab should give you the service pack number.

    I take it chkdsk did not report any errors?
     
  14. elizbeth

    elizbeth Thread Starter

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    Wanderer2:

    I had already minimized the ping window as you have instructed. We may not have a lockup for a few days, That's kind of how it happens, sporadically. If the system locks up early in the day, then it will occur throughout the day. But then may have several days without problems.

    I will continue the maintenance as suggested.

    Server info as stated in initial post: "We have a Dell main server with 5 networked stations. Server: "X86 Family 6 Model, 8 Stepping 10, AT/AT Compatible, 528.76 KB Ram"
    System: Microsoft 2000, 5.00.2195, SP4.
    "

    No errors reported from chkdsk.

    Thanks!
     
  15. Wanderer2

    Wanderer2

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    Thanks for the info. OK the delayed write isn't related to the server not being fully patched. It could be the workstation that had the error is not fully patched if a windows 2000/xp workstation.

    Just a thought but perhaps if everyone saved a fairly large file to the server at the same time we could make the lockup happen.
     
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