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Spontaneous Rebooting on Windows Server 2003

Posted on 2007-10-04
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Our web developer has notified us that our servers - one, a Gateway tower and the other, a Dell PowerEdge 2900 - have been spontaneously rebooting, usually at night. He says this because he has an app that runs 24/7/365 on the Dell box (that passes data to a companion app on the Gateway) and it is giving him errors indicating shutdowns. Automatic updates are off. I suspect power problems in the building as there's a history of such. Where, if possible, can I look to see when the rebooting is happening and what might be causing it?
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Question by:gbrooke
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elec1cele earned 500 total points
ID: 20019774
I am going to assume you are runnning windows.  In the system eventlog when the computer powers back up you will have 2 messages with a source of eventlog one telling you about the os and the other telling you the eventlog service has started.  These are usually followed by a bunch of service control manager messages about other services starting up.

The eventlog service only starts at boot you can't stop it other than by shutting down the computer so this message will tell you the time the computer came back on.  If the computer was shutdown(as opposed to just loosing power) there will be 3 eventlog messages all together the first telling you the service was stopped.

The eventlog is also a good first place to look to see if anything odd is happening to the computer check all the log entries that happen shorlty before the reboot and see if anything jumps out at you.

If the power outages are temporary <30min you should be able to buy a UPS(relatively cheaply) for your servers/network equipment that would protect them from the buildings fluctuating power.

Hope this helps
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by:rindi
rindi earned 200 total points
ID: 20019974
Right click "My Computer", select "Properties", "Advanced", "Settings" in "Startup and Recovery". Make sure "Automatic restart" on "System Failure" isn't selected. Next time the server restarts it should show a Bluescreen with an error code you can post here.

Such crashes at night often are caused by the backup software which normally runs at night. Maybe a file that is being backed up is corrupt or infected by malware. The backup software usually also runs an AV check, and if something bad is found this can cause a crash. Sometimes this also happens if there are physical disk errors, so a chkdsk /x is often also helpful, but this can take very long, depending on the disk size, and during that time the server isn't online.
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by:bluetab
bluetab earned 200 total points
ID: 20020036
Is the server connected to any sort of backup batter such as an APC Smart-UPS.  A lot of these batteries will have power management software that is installed on the server and indicates power failures, surges, and other problems.
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by:mastoo
mastoo earned 200 total points
ID: 20022039
For power or several other situations, you'll see a message in the event log and a popup dialog saying the previous shutdown at xx:yy was unexpected.  This tells you when it died.  As above, get it on a ups with monitoring software installed as a good start.
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by:JjcampNR
JjcampNR earned 200 total points
ID: 20026560
Just remember that if you disable automatic reboot on system failure, and your machine is rebooting due to a blue screen of death or other major system problem, you'll need to physically power the server off and on to get it back up and running since it will not be reachable via remote desktop (unless you have the appropriate hardware, like a Dell DRAC card or controlable PDU, to access the server at the hardware level power cycle it virtually).

While this may not be an issue for you, if it's running something critical and you shut off automatic reboots, be prepared for an emergency phone call at 2:00am demanding that you get the server back up and running ASAP.  Just a little heads up on that one. :-]
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Author Comment

by:gbrooke
ID: 20045415
Gentlemen,

The server is indeed a Windows Server 2003 box. After further clarification with the web developer, he said that only one of the servers was rebooting, the Gateway. I do have a UPS on the server, an APC BackUPS -1000, and only this server and its monitor are plugged into the UPS. It has 35 minutes of battery power. I checked the PowerChute log and, in the last 4 weeks, there were only two instances of it switching to battery power for a total of 9 seconds of battery power. I checked the Event Log as per elec1cele's suggestion. No unexpected shutdowns in the last 4 weeks. There was one on 8/1/07 but I knew about that - server overheated due to a failed CPU fan. That was resolved and the box has been zooming along happily since then. I believe there's another issue here - one not related to the server unexpectedly rebooting. I was basing my question on the web developers report to me and his app may be reporting some sort of loss of connection to the server as a shutdown.

The backup app we use is BackUpMyBusiness, an off-site online service. It runs every day at random times between 8PM and 10PM (that's just the way BMB does it and, this being a 9A-5P business, everyone bails at 4:59 sharp). Since there were no unexpected shutdowns in the last 4 weeks, I don't think that the backup app is causing any problems. Additionally, the backup logs did not show any failed backups, so I don't think there are any corrupt files. I run a disk maintenance tool once a month and the disks appear healthy.

Although, I didn't want to disable the "Automatic Restart on System Failure" option at this time, that option could be useful if we need to dig deeper into this from a power loss perspective.

All of your comments were useful in helping me with this issue. I will increase the points and split them according to the weight each comment had in helping with my situation.

Thanks.
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