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Losing connection to network shares on a Win XP Pro peer to peer network

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Last Modified: 2013-11-21
Hello all,

I could use some advice.  I'm setting up a little 3-4 station peer to peer network using Windows XP Pro SP2.  I have all the PCs (2 brand new Dell Vostro desktops and 2 Dell Vostro Laptops) connected to the network and they can all access the Internet just fine.  We have a PIX firewall in between the network and the DSL internet router.  Computer A has a program installed on it and I have the folder shared.  The other computers can all access this at boot up.  However, if Computers A and B are using the shared program and Computer C joins in, we start having issues.  Probably within 5-10 minutes all computers lock up.  While locked up, I tried pinging Computer A by IP and by name and got a reply instantly.  I did notice that when I did a NET USE on Computer B or C it said "RECONNECTING" and then the share name.  It never reconnects though, not without Computer A being rebooted.  I might mention that when the shared program locks up, we can still access the Internet from all PCs.

I've been reading a lot of posts on this site, but I'm really not sure what to try first.  Do you all think that it might have something to do with permissions?  I am using Simple File Sharing.   Any help would be greatly appreciated and will get whatever info needed to help me troubleshoot this.

Thanks!

j
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Michael WorshamCloud/Infrastructure Solutions Architect
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Commented:
A couple of quick questions...

1) Are all systems showing the same WORKGROUP setting?
2) What are the specs for each machine (i.e. CPU, Ram, etc)
3) What is the shared program and does it allow multiple running connections?

Commented:
I don't believe it could be permissions otherwise it wouldn't work successfully initially. Please confirm that A & B can share the application without difficulty for an extended period, ie., the problem only ocurs when a third computer enters joins the share.

Commented:
Have you tried removing Computer C from the network after lockup and allowed A & B to stabilise?

Author

Commented:
mwecomputers:  

1)  Yes, all computers are in the same workgroup.  I actually just left it the default "Workgroup" name.
2)  All computers have Dual Core processors, Computer A has 2 Gb of RAM and Computers B,C,D have 1 Gb of RAM
3)  The shared program is called Amazing Charts (it's for a doctors office) and is supposed to allow for multiple connections.  I've talked to the vendor numerous times and they assure me that the problem is in the networking, not their app.  :)

Radar07:

As of today, A&B have shared the app sucessfully for the last 3 or 4 hours.   I haven't tested have A&C try to share to see what happens, since the doctor has computer B and needs it more than the other person.

Thanks for the quick response all!

j

Author

Commented:
Radar07:

It seems the only thing that fixes the problem is if Computer A is rebooted.  Then, we're able to reconnect computer B to the database and can go on.  It's just a pain to have to reboot the main computer all the time.  
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Commented:
Check also that each computer name is unique in the first 7 characters as NetBIOS might be confusing the destination broadcasts.

Author

Commented:
Thanks, will do.  I'll be going on site in the next couple of days.  I know for a fact that the computers do NOT have a unique name in the first seven charactors...they're named like name1, name2, name3 etc.  Also, one of my buddies mentioned that maybe it had something to do with a connections limitation on XP Pro.  It will only allow like 10 connections?  I was a little confused on what XP considered a "connection".  I have 2 shared folders and a shared printer for each of the 3 computers connecting to Computer A.  Would that equal 9 connections then?  The doctor is keeping his spare laptop plugged in and logged into the network, but he's not accessing the app with it.  Still, that would be 3 computers all "connecting" to A and possibly taking up connections.  Thoughts?

And thank you for the suggestions.  I'll post back when I get a chance to go over there.

j

Commented:
Your friend is correct. XP Pro only allows 10 simultaneous connections but should free them up when C is disconencted from the network. This was the thinking behind my earlier questions. Since the only solution is to reboot A I suggest it is not the rersult of too many network connections.

Also, the fact that the NET USE results in "reconnecting" messages suggests that it is a most likely a networking issue of some kind. NetBIOS problems would be my guess at this stage.

Having said all that, it ight be worth getting a small server for A. This would overcome any future problems with limited network connections. A basic one with SBS is not much more than a workstation these days.

Author

Commented:
Hi Radar07:

I must confess I'm a little ignorant about the NetBIOS functionality.   When computer C was logged on and locked up A & B, I was still able to ping by IP and by name from computer C.  Wouldn't that mean I still have a connected network?  A little more info as well, just for kicks, I had the nurse use computer D, after A & B were in use and the same thing happened.  I just wanted to rule out a problem specifically with computer C itself.  So, it appears everything is fine and dandy until a 3rd computer is connected and is actively trying to use the shared network resource.  I've put in another call to the vendor to make sure there's not an issue with open files or something.  

Thank you for all the help so far.  I'll know more tomorrow hopefully...

j

Commented:
You can find out how many sessions are active on computer A by typing NET SESSION at that computer command prompt. Also if this is a 10 connections problem, I think then you should see message about that in computer A event viewer.

If you can ping computer that does not mean that NetBIOS is working properly. NetBIOS is working on top of TCP/IP network protocol stack.

Commented:
Network shares time out if not used for 15 minutes (by default). It's a long shot but you might want to follow the direction on
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/297684/en-us
to rule another potential cause out.
Michael WorshamCloud/Infrastructure Solutions Architect
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Commented:
In all honesty, you might want to consider dropping the old 'peer-to-peer' network and going with what Radar07 recommended of the SBS (Small Business Server) environment.

It would make things a lot easier for everyone involved (including yourself) by giving features like: allowing users remote access to their machines if someone were out sick, shared fax services, have an intranet & internet e-mail server and a file sharing system with backup/restore capabilities.

Microsoft SBS 2003: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/default.mspx
Microsoft SBS 2003 (Flash Demo): http://www.mwecomputers.com/sbsintro.htm

Author

Commented:
Thanks everyone,

I'm going onsite today to have a look around.  I know I'd feel more comfortable with a normal server environment so we'll see if I can convince the doctor.  

j

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all the help.  I'm not sure if it was the "Open Files" comment or changing the netbios names of the computers that did the trick, but everythings good now.
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