Microsoft Windows Server 2003 for SBS keeps shutting down by itself

Posted on 2006-05-26
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Ok, confession time.  I know nothing about Microsoft Windows Server 2003 for SBS.  I am a babe in the woods here.

I installed it from scratch, not knowing what I was doing, living by my wits...

So be gentle with my ego please :)

Ok, installed it, called the server JUSTINE, because the old one that was being replaced was called JUSTINE.  I figured it would slot in without requiring any client computer updates that way.  Well, that didn't work - the client computers wouldn't log on to the shared folders as the seemed to be "confused" or otherwise "loyal" to the original "JUSTINE" at some lower level.  

I managed to (forget the proper terminology) rename the server from JUSTINE to SERVER (yay for me).  It went through a lengthy process where it seemed to erase any and all internal knowledge of JUSTINE and replaced it with SERVER.  Once it rebooted, the server was called SERVER.

I then had a temporary problem accessing the Shared Folders, but I sorted that permission problem out.

I also had a problem with the server wanting to be the DHCP server, but there is already a hardware firewall doing that job, so I shut down the DHCP server and set it to manual.

The clients were happy to see the new SERVER, they're logging into the shares just fine and life appears to be happy.  Except

(que horror movie music as villain creeps up behind the protagonist...)

The server shuts itself down regularly.  First I suspected this to be a hardware issue, but I just now (finally) caught it.  Windows suddently says it is shutting down, and does so followed by powering the box down.  It does this about 3-5 times per working day (7am-6pm), and the interval appears to be roughly between 1.5 and 2.5 hours since the last restart.

The idea of a server going into hybernation seemed abusurd to me, and an inspection of the power schemes shows monitor, hard disks and system standby are all set to "Never".  Hybernation is disabled altogether, there is no UPS and the UPS service is stopped.  The server is in use all the time via the shares, but no keyboard or mouse activity on the system itself.

The only thing that looks like it may be involved says "When I press the power button on my computer:" with the value "Shutdown".  So, as I'm writing this I have disconnected all the front panel connectors, just in case there is some weird periodic short in the power button...  but for the purpose of this topic, let's assume that's not the source of the problem.

As you experienced server jocks probably are aching to yell by now:  what about the Event Viewer?  Indeed, lets go there next.

Let's mention the event logs that are clear of anything odd:  System, Security, File Replication and Directory service.

The DNS Event log complains every two minutes that it can't open the zone in the Active Directory.  It complains about not being able to find any primary or secondary zones, it complains that it is unable to open zone_mscds.smallbusiness.local.  Although untidy, I don't see this as a problem as the clients all get their DNS services from the hardware firewall.

The Application Event log has the same error every 5 seconds.... (that can't be good :)
#50070: Unable to connect to the database STS_Config on JUSTINE\SharePoint (etc).  Event ID: 1000.  I have a sick feeling this may be related to the cause of my shutdown problem, but then there is no other message suggesting this is escalating or otherwise overflowing some kind of buffer, or... who knows.

But what is MOST interesting is that there is no message that I can find indicating WHY Windows is deciding to do a nice tidy shutdown.  Not in any log I know how to find, anyway.

Now then.  My primary (short term) objectibe is to stop the system from shutting itself down.  It's not making the people in that office happy :)

Have I accidentally told you enough to suggest where I could start looking for the solution?  Why does ANY server shut itself down?  That's just so... non-server-like! :)  
Question by:crnz
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    You have a mess.  You really are probably better off REINSTALLING the server because from the sounds of things, you're not even CLOSE to using it the way it was intended - and failing to do so CAN cause MAJOR problems.

    First, SBS MUST be a Domain Controller - it must be THE FSMO Master Domain controller.  Do you have a domain?  Are there any other domain controllers?  Is this a domain controller?

    Second, Active Directory REQUIRES DNS - and NOT the DNS your firewall is providing.  DNS provides the location of the server to the clients for things like shares and authentication.  You NEED to be using SBS's DNS server and ONLY the SBS DNS server.  You CANNOT use the firewall's DNS information.

    You CAN use the firewall for DHCP, BUT, it's REALLY not recommended - DHCP provides the DNS information to the clients - your firewall MAY not be adjustable in this area.  And as I said before the clients MUST use the DNS server of the SBS server.

    We can help you some, but if you want to have a troublefree network, go buy a book or higher a consultant to install the server correctly and train you to manage it - I run several and once setup, you should not need to do much to it - I perform MAYBE 1 hour of maintenance at clients per month.  If you do go the consultant route, make sure the consultant KNOWS SBS specifically and NOT just 2003 server - while similar, SBS really is a different beast.  (Similar the way a house cat is similar to a couger).

    And also, USE THE WIZARDS - that's where most problems come from, NOT using the wizards.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    leew, I'm not upset by that answer at all.  I realise I have a mess.  And one of my options is to simply stick XP Pro on the box.  It's only serving 3 folders to 5 people.  It's just that they got sold SBS by the previous consultants who wanted a quick $2500 sale plus setup no doubt.  I kind of came into this cold and in a dire emergency.  Managed to get it going for the purpose it is needed, if it wasn't for the shutdowns.

    Hoping to avoid the reload if I can find a fix for the shutdown, but already somewhat resigned to just wiping the thing and putting XP Pro on it.  I mean, why do they need anything more if they just want to share 3 folders around the office?

    Hey, want to buy a SBS license? :)

    On a serious note - during installation I tried to omit installing all the stuff I knew that would not be needed, like SQL server, IIS and so on, and so on.  Not realising some of that is obviously used to manange itself as well.  The whole thing is a sledgehammer to crack a peanut, that's for sure.

    So, if no specific suggestions on the shutdown issue, I'll probably drop SBS and see if someone wants a cheap license.  Must check eBay :)
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    You probably can't sell the license - if it came with the system, it's an OEM license and PERMANENTLY tied to that hardware, so you might as well use it.  

    I do have an idea on the shutdown which is why I asked about it being a domain controller - SBS servers MUST be FSMO master domain controllers - if they are not, after two weeks, they start shutting themselves down because you're not using them the way they were licensed to be used.

    The benefit of a domain is in that you won't have logon issues with people accessing shared folders nearly as much as if you use a workgroup (XP machine).  Since you already have the license, I would still suggest you put it to use.  Consider that you also got licenses for Outlook with the SBS license.  And you can use Exchange for group calendaring and e-mail.  It's just vitally important that the server be setup correctly.  

    Look for other consultants - look on craigslist - for a simple file sharing and network setup that didn't even use exchange (though it SHOULD be installed), I'd probably quote an estimated fee of $1000 and includes reloading the OS on the server - that's me, for 5 people.

    Also, a feature SBS has that XP does NOT - Volume Shadow copy - this is like an active backup of your data done automatically several times a day, based on how you configure it - this is a feature I've seen used fairly often to save people's butts in the small businesses I consult with - read more about it here:

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