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What Causes Unexpected System Restarts?

Posted on 2009-05-08
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How do we determine what is causing unexpected system restarts and why they are becoming more frequent?  Also, is it possible for Windows to report EventID 6008 without the system actually shutting down?  Some of what I'm seeing in the Event Log indicates that the Event doesn't show up until someone logs onto the server...when this happens mid-day it is obvious that the server didn't actually reboot because not all users are affected.
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Question by:sshermankig
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goss34 earned 100 total points
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Hi sshermankig,

Have a look at this link:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/326564

Cheers
Dan
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by:chefazn
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Have you isolated the problem to determine is software only?  It sounds to me like a standard hardware failure/overheating issue.  
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by:sshermankig
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Hi Dan,

Thanks for link.  We are using a Scheduled Task to run a batch file that reboots the server every morning at 4:00, have been for years.  In all of 2008 6008 was only logged once.  In the past two weeks I've seen it four times.  If the issue conforms to the article's Cause, shouldn't I be seeing this event reported every day?

Thanks,

Shannon  
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by:sshermankig
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Hi chefazn,

I never even considered it might be a hardware problem.  There are no obvious failures so how would I begin to troubleshoot that?

Thanks, SS
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by:nico-slo
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In my experience this issue occurs due to a problem with the power supply, are you able to replace it with a spare and verify if the issue still occurs?
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by:jccs0519
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Although a little unrelated to this question, but it maybe helpful to others.   I had a PC that would restart for no reason.  At first I thought it was a virus (since there is a virus that does that).  But after booting to a liveCD then I know it's not virus.  Eventually I found out it's because of overheating.  Overheat will cause restart or slowed down of the system.  Make sure your system is well ventilated, clean the fans, take out dust bunnies ..etc.
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by:sshermankig
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Great advice nico-slo and jccs0519, thanks!  I don't believe I have a spare power supply but I'll get one on the way today.  And of course do a thorough clean up.
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by:chefazn
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After you've determined its not a software issue, then you should move on to hardware troubleshooting.
Easiest way to determine hardware issues is determine your current hardware temperatures and safe hard temperatures from your parts manufacturer's operating manual or website.  Using this free software saves a lot of trouble:http://www.cpuid.com/hwmonitor.php

If you determined that your cpu/gpu/hard drives/memory/motherboard aren't overheating or failing, you should make sure that the cpu isn't overclocked (which doesn't seem to be the problem as your running a server os).  Hard drive failure can be indicated by excessive "clicking" noise or abnormal amount of spin ups or spin downs.  

Isolate each component . . .go to the bare minimum to operate your computer including: taking out all excessive memory (leaving the minimum to run Windows), taking out your GPU (unless your motherboard doesn't support some sort of video output), taking out all extra peripherals (cd-roms, extra hard drives, etc). to run.  

Put each component one-by-one to determine stability.  If your systems shuts down again after installing one hardware product, that should be your culprit.
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by:jccs0519
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Oh forget to mention you can monitor your system's temperature using freeware utilities.  The one I use is speedfan, http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php, but there are other great ones out there.  Normal CPU temp should be around 50C, I don't know what threshold will cause damage to system and every system probably has its max threshold.  But if you are getting like 85-95C, then you may want to consider some cooling options.   I have heard overheat caused permanent hardware failure.

Again, not sure this relates to your problem, but thought I throw it out there.
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by:ChiefIT
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There are a LOT of things that can cause an automatic restart.

bad drivers
Bad hardware
heat
configuration conflicts
Malware
ect...

My favorite place to start is by asking a few questions.
1) Has this computer worked well in the past? If so, it is probably not a hardware issue.
2) Have you logged on using safemode with VGA and once again in safemode with Network support? That loads up the microsoft generic drivers instead of the ones you currently have for the OS. Bad drivers cause many of these restarts.
3) How long does it take from a cold startup for the computer to restart? If it takes a long time after the original restart, and then you struggle with it while it is heated up, it's most likely heat. Also, if your mouse and keyboard seem to slow prior to restart, it could be heat.
4) When does it restart,...before the logon screen, after a while of being logged on, right after the Power On Self Test???
5) Anything in event logs that you could provide us?
6) Were you able to run a antispyware scan and antivirus scan? If not, can you do this in safemode?
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by:sshermankig
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Great stuff Everyone, thanks for all the different avenues to try.  What I have realized is that the UPS this machine is connected to is hollaring for a new battery.  I don't know if this line of thinking is warranted but I wonder if its having voltage fluctuations because of it?  I've downloaded the two recommended hardware monitors and will be giving those a go at it shortly.  Scheduling is the trouble with this issue...since it is a production server I have a short window each evening in which to work without interrupting the business.

In answer to your #1 ChiefIT, yes this machine has worked very well for the past few years.  It is only recently that these errors have been reported.  And the last five occurences of the event weren't true events, just errors in the log.  I found nothing else suspicious or pertinent in the logs.

Once I have a chance to bring this machine down off hours and try a few things I'll post an update.

Thanks again Everyone!
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by:ChiefIT
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A UPS will periodically kick on the inverter, to test itself. This means it periodically switches from line power to battery power to test itself. In the event of a bad battery, when the inverter kicks on, it will shut you down, not restart you.

If this is much more than a household UPS, I would have it serviced by a professional. Some UPS's, like my own 18KVA UPS's have enough power even in the capacitors to kill you. Even small household UPSs, 1500W will give you a heck of a shock if you are not careful. So, be very careful!!!
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by:sshermankig
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Duly noted, thank you ChiefIT.  SS
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by:sshermankig
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The UPS has been successfully serviced and there has not been another occurrence of EventID 6008.  Thanks again for all the excellent advice.  I will be monitoring the server's temperature in the event something further is required.
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by:sshermankig
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Thank you Gentlemen!
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