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Windows 2000 freezes temporarily when accessing a file on the network

Posted on 2003-11-05
Last Modified: 2012-05-04
We use windows 2003 server as domain controllers/file servers with our clients using Windows 2000 professional (Office 2000 Professional) on mostily Dell Optiplex 270s (and some other pcs).

We are experiencing an intermittant problem where a user tries to access a file on the network such as:
* Open their my documents (which is redirected to a directory on the server)
* Save a file to the my documents.

The machine will freeze for about 5 minutes with task manager showing 0 or 1% processor usage, any icons in the system tray will freeze, the mouse pointer remains active but you cannot switch between windows, the task bar becomes inoperative.  Often another application can be brought to the foreground before the taskbar freezes and that app continues to work properley (ie outlook can still send and recieve emails) but the application that was trying to save will not come to the foreground.

Ctrl-Alt-Del jumps to the window with the 6 buttons (change password logoff etc) but then clicking task manager results in a blank screen (background only) with a taskbar with no buttons drawn.  Further Ctrl-Alt-Del has no effect.

Eventually (about 5 minutes) the system recovers, the file is saved or action is completed and everything is happy.

Have tried the normal things:
* deleted all the normal.dots (thought it was a problem with word but it can happens when you open my documents with no other apps running)
* deleted and recreated the profile

The problem is evident on machines with and without our virus software (InnoculateIT) installed.

The problem can not be replicated every time, most of the time the system works as normal.

A reload of the OS results in a few days of problem free activity then the problem reasserts.

Nothing is logged in event viewer.

We are running Windows 2000 SP4 with all relevant updates.

Thanks in advance for any help.
Question by:wokwon
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LVL 37

Accepted Solution

bbao earned 125 total points
ID: 9691153
"The machine will freeze for about 5 minutes with task manager showing 0 or 1% processor usage", i would think, it is caused by hardware related problem. mostly on harddisk. you may try some files on other partitions and see if such things happens again.

Author Comment

ID: 9691254
Thanks for your suggestion.

Documents from the local drives (the desktop, cdrom) seem to open fine.

I noted the task manager usage as the task manager display in the system tray freezes along with the other animated icons there.
LVL 37

Expert Comment

ID: 9691391
"The machine will freeze for about 5 minutes with task manager showing 0 or 1% processor usage", which machine? 2003 or pro2k?
just confirm who got the problem, hehe.

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Author Comment

ID: 9691405
the symptoms are with the windows 2000 pro workstations.  Have no idea where the problem actually is.

Assisted Solution

pcandler earned 125 total points
ID: 9703550
We had a similar situation with home directories on a W2K svr and W2K pro clients. They were using Office 97. When Word was saving a file it created a temp file in the home directory and seemed to have major problems deleting it (Our lag time was about 1 minute).

By removing Full control from the security tab of the home directory of that particular user eliminated the problem.  I don't know why this occured, but it seemed to do the trick.

LVL 37

Expert Comment

ID: 9705463
pcandler, are you sure your case was caused by permissions? removing full control, that means only r/w rights works well but not full control?

wokwon, i think it is worth to just have a try for pcandler's comments, although i have not got idea for the reason of it. will study it.

Expert Comment

ID: 9709981
I know it sounds crazy/weird, but I have a feeling that we have a conflicting Group Policy, but have been unable to find it. Once the Full control was removed, the problem was resolved.  When Full control was given back to the user then the problem re-occurred.  We only found the workaround (can't realy call it a solution) by accident.

These users are students so they have very limited capabilites.

The home directories of other users (teachers) don't have the same problems.

Author Comment

ID: 9711379
Thanks for the suggestions guys.  I remember reading that having an everyone with full control and other users with lesser specific permissions results in a total deny (for win2k3 server).  I'll go through the security permissions fully and have a look.

Meanwhile, it *appears* that the only computers that are doing this are the ones with SP4 installed.  Other machines with SP3 and 2 installed (that update services seems to have missed for some reason) are not affected.  I'm rebuilding a few machines with sp3 only and have disabled sp4 in Software Update Services (SUS).  I'll see how I go from there.

Fingers crossed.  

(I'll also have to find out why SUS didn't install sp4 on the other machines.  Sounds like a group policy problem)

Expert Comment

ID: 9717852
I spoke with my colleague today about the problem and he reminder me that another thing that we did that resolved the problem was to turn off "Allow background saves".  However this was impractical in our situation as we don't have roaming profiles (due to amount of data that would be transmitted at the start and end of lessons) and this setting would need to be made by every user every time they logged onto a machine they had never used.

Author Comment

ID: 9774989
Sorry for the delay in answering.  I found a workaround for now.  Seems the problem is a combination or the virus scanning software (even tho a machine did exhibit the symptom without it) and either SP4 or a security hotfix.  We have machines with SP2 and SP3 (that I built to test) that exhibit the symptoms and machines with SP2, 3, and 4 that are somewhat older that work flawlessly.  I'm leaning towards a possible device driver problem.

Disabling the realtime component of the scanner and rebooting allows the user to work normally.  So thats what I will do until I figure out whats different between the two sets of workstations.

Anyway, I'll split the points between the two people who tried to help. Thanks for the attempt guys.

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