Daily shutdown of server a problem?

Due to the electric power supply situation at one of our offices abroad (Africa) the server is shut down every evening and switched on again in the morning.

Do you guys have any experience with that? Do frequent reboots, restarts harm the server (I don't talk about hardware, I talk about Windows 2003!), does it increase potential for problems (corrupt file systems, screwed up registry, other "critical" errors, mystical "reconfiguration" etc.).

The question is if it would be better to leave the server on at night or not.

Thanks for any experiences. Could be an interesting discussion :-)

Solong
Dominik
domimAsked:
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Dmitri FarafontovLinux Systems AdminCommented:
Sudden restarts are frowned upon by any OS not just Windows. Operating systems hold files open using a file lock. It might not be a good idea to leave the server hanging when the power is about to go out. You can schedulle the shutdowns with a "shutdown" command if you wish to do so. AD however is very versitile and pick up the corruptions using Time Stamps and Update Sequence Numbers. I wouldnt leave a server over night if I know the power can go down. However, I might consider investing into Unterruptable Power Supply if that site was critical to my mission operations
trmllcCommented:
I think DeltaFire hit the nail on the head. Get yourself a UPS unit (battery backup) to manage the problem. You can configure the threshold so that if power goes out for a few minutes, the server will have enough juice to stay running on the battery. However if the power goes out for a prolonged period of time, the UPS software can tell the server to perform a clean shutdown while it still has enough power to do so. It will then automatically bring the server back up as soon as power is restored. I haven't put a server in WITHOUT a UPS in many years.

Not only does it help in power outtages, but it also conditions the line to reduce the chances of dirty power causing problems.
Dmitri FarafontovLinux Systems AdminCommented:
There are different models of UPS. Higher end models support higher battery life. Whats more important however, is that Windows has a native integration support for those devices. Even on my home workstation UPS is support. I am  sure that Server editions are just as savy. To sum it all up if you are serious about a uptime you need a backup generator like UPS.
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domimAuthor Commented:
OK, thanks for the replies but just to avoid any misunderstandings:

Of course we are using all kinds of equipment, otherwise operation wouldn't be possible at all. That means the entire system is behind voltage stabilizers and a large UPS which is, of course, also controlling the server and sends a shutdown signal in time before the UPS voltage drops too low.

Therefore, the server does not really experience any real power cuts and is only shut down clean in the evening and rebooted the next morning.

My question was rather as servers have actually been built for continuous operation (on the hardware side and also on the software side) and based on my experience with Windows systems and their "stability" (please no discussion about Windows and Linux now, everybody who uses both knows which server is more stable) the question occured because this particular server, although well configured and not busy at all (fast, lot of RAM, little to do!) and high quality hardware (double power supply, network cards, expensive server motherboard, RAID, server case with lots of fans, airconditioning etc) is having always problems from time to time (only OS). Other Win-Servers also habe problems (we all know Windows an that it does strange things on its own, we know it from our Workstations!) but not as many as the one that is switched off every evening.

Therefore I wanted to know if anybody has a similar situation that his/her server does not run continuously and if problems occured.

Dominik
CiaranDolanCommented:
No problem - you can take servers up and down as often as you like. It's not ideal but it works fine. I've had Win2K Server on a laptop previously and I restarted it daily for over a year without a problem. Your worst situation would be if one or more of the users of that server has files open. Taking the server down when files are open over thee network can lead to corruption. It's not as bad as it was but the risk is there. Saying that, it's better to shutdown the server cleanly every night than wait for a power problem to fry it!

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domimAuthor Commented:
Thanks! What exactly do you mean with "it's not ideal". As I said, over the past year we had the server in operation we experienced more problems than on other machines which run continuously. Problems that are not understandable or reproducable. Therefore I am trying to find out if it is just "bad luck" or any other cause or Windows 2003 Server is just not made for regular clean shut downs and boots.

Any other experiences welcome! :-)

Dominik
mcp_jonCommented:
Dominik,

Have you performed a regular memory test to your Server ?

Deffective Memory Modules can do this sort of errors !

Best Regards !
domimAuthor Commented:
Yup, I am sure hardware is perfectly ok. My IMPRESSION is that problems occure after reboots. This was over a period of approx. one year so I can't really tell if it was a specific or reproducable problem. Just an impression.

Dominik
mcp_jonCommented:
What brand are we talking about, can you supply the Specs of your server ?

It would Help to advise what RAID test to perform, Firmwares to upgrade....

Best Regards !
domimAuthor Commented:
It's an ASUS P4P800-E Deluxe Motherboard with an P4-3GHz CPU, 1 GB RAM, onboard raid controller with to SATA 160GB WD HDs configured as RAID1 (tested and working fine). Basically all other components are on board. We did thorough hardware diagnosis and everything seems to work fine, all relevant drivers for W2K3 installed etc. so I think I can rule out any hardware problem.

I just compare this particular server ("at the bottom line") with some others in our organisation, e.g. an old Linux Red Hat 9 box which is a web, mail, ftp-server as well as file and print server which runs a dual PII-200 with 512 MB RAM and a RAID1 with 32GB and it works since approx. three years without anybody ever touching it. And it has quite some load on it.

On the other hand I see a (well configured) Windows 2003 server with latest hardware, no load and lots of problems. Again, please lets not compare Linux and Windows. For me counts the stability and performance at the end and from my current point of view, this Windows Server is not really a darling and a suspicsion was that it is related to the daily (clean) shutdowns and reboots. We also make sure that the server is the last computer on the network to be shut down.

Dominik
Dmitri FarafontovLinux Systems AdminCommented:
There is a program called Spin Rite 6.0 by Steven Gibson, that scans the surface of your hard drive for errors. Its more than a simple scan disk. You might wanna give it a try and scan your RAID array.

http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm
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