Slow network transfer speeds on some workstations but not all

oetcc
oetcc used Ask the Experts™
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I have a network of approximately 20 users. I have an SBS 2003 Standard Server which is used as a DC, Exchange and File Server. Recently some of the users on the network but not all are experiencing very very slow network data transfer speeds. The workstation hardware is not standard in other words i cannot determine if it is specific to one type of hardware or not because almost every workstation is different. I tried plugging my laptop into one of the network jacks where the throughput was good and tested by copying a large file from the server to my laptop and seeing approximately how long it takes. Then I took my laptop and connected it to a port where the transfer speeds are very slow but when I used my laptop everything worked well. I have a Dell PowerConnect 2724 in unmanaged mode. I am fairly confident that the switch is operating correctly and that there are no problems with the physical cabling. One other important note is I just update the SBS server to the recently released SP2 for Windows 2003. Any suggestions? When I talk about slow speeds it will take about 45min to transfer 20mb from the server to a workstation.
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Commented:
When you ping from a computer that is running slow, what type of response are you getting?  Also, when you copy data from the clients, is it a mapped drive?  Lastly, are the clients XP/2000??

Author

Commented:
If I ping from one of the slow computers by IP or by Name the response time is <1ms and all four packets are received.

When I copy data from the server during a test I usually go to start >> Run >> \\servername\sharedfolder\etc. then I copy a file from within this folder and paste the copied file on the computers desktop

The machines are all XP Professional.

Commented:
Are you getting any errors on the server (event viewer)?  Disk running low on space?  Any devices failing in Device Manager?
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Commented:
No errors in the event viewer on the server. Disk space not a problem and no devices failing in the device manager.

Commented:
Is the server being taxed by a process(or processes)?

Commented:
Scratch that last post.  On the pc's that are having the problem, do they have the same IP information (Gateway, subnet mask, DNS, etc.) as the "good" pc's?

Author

Commented:
CPU usage as reported in the Task Manager fluctuates between 1% and 16% spending more time in the lower half of that range. Memory usage... I could probably add some more memory to the server to increase performance but that still doesn't explain the inconsistency of why some computers have no problem accessing files on the server quickly and others cannot.

One other thing to add... When I would copy files from the server to the desktops I would monitor the networking tab on the task manager. The machines that transfer files quickly have their network utilization fluctuating between 15 and 30% and the machines that are very slow have their network utilization never higher than 1%

Author

Commented:
Yes IP configuration is the same for all PC's.... DHCP is setup on the SBS Server

Commented:
These users that are having the problem aren't all in the same area are they?  How do you manage Windows updates?  Have all the users ever worked at the same time?

Author

Commented:
The users are not all in the same area. Well I guess I would have to qualify that by saying the area where all the users are is not that large. But there are users in different areas that are experiencing the problem. I know what your thinking maybe power lines or something interfering which the cable causing the problem. But I have one user who is slow and then a user sitting one office over who is fine.

Windows update... they are to be installed automatically at 3am and I checked to ensure the updates are done and they are.

Commented:
I know this sounds odd, but if you took a computer that is slow and switched spots with a good one, I wonder what results you would get.  I mean, I know you used your laptop, but I would like to see what would happen if your switch spots with a good one and a bad one.

Author

Commented:
I just did another couple of very interesting tests...

I shared a folder on a workstation and tried copying a large file from this workstation to one of the computers that was working slowly. The result was a very fast transfer. What that confirmed to me was that the problem is specific to the SBS server. I then tried something else... uploading a file from one of the slow computers to the server. The upload speed was great.

What am I left with? The SBS server allows certain users to download files quickly while others cannot. But when it comes to uploading files to the server the speeds are great for everyone. Why?????

Author

Commented:
I tried plugging a good computer into the network jack of a bad computer and the result was the good computer could still transfer quickly. For sure the problem is not cabling or switch related.

Commented:
Can you break the shares of a couple folders, recreate them and then test their access?

Author

Commented:
I created a new share, added some test data into it and then tried the copy and still no success

Commented:
Log in as a different user to one of those machines and see if it is permission related.
Commented:
That is amazing.  I didn't have that problem when I patched any of my servers (5) so it would have been one of the last things I would have thought.  Good work.  Drop points if you think it's necessary.  Take care.

Commented:
After following the question that long and posting numerous comments that limited what it could, I would like to see some points.  I know I didn't supply the solution, but the possibilities were narrowed dramatically.  Thanks!

Author

Commented:
I asked the moderator to give you points when they close the case because I don't know how to give partial points.

Commented:
Thanks oetcc!  Take care.
Just to add. I had an issue that sounded exactly like this that after banging my head against the wall for a day and a half found that it was hardware related issue with the workstation nic's on some of the pc's and the Dell powerconnect 2724. I tried updating the nic drivers on the ones running slow with no success. Then I threw my hands in the air and put in a brand new NIC card from best buy which I paid a ridiculous sum for.. Ehem anyway and the issue was resolved. Ordered NIC's for all the pc which where running slow (most of them white boxes with random integrated and pci NICs). And that fixed everything. I have had other issues since with the Powerconnect 2724 being incompatible with other switches and NIC's.

Commented:
That is a great follow-up post!  That is something to keep in mind going forward.  And I agree about the store you bought that from.  Unless it is an emergency, I won't use them.  Paying xx% markups is a joke!  Take care.

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