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Windows XP on SBS 2003 domain...pc reverts to "working offline" at random...

Posted on 2009-05-12
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Hi,
This has been an issue for quite some time, but finally i have to resolve it.  Working remotely on a customer network, I'm logged in to the server via VPN (PPTP to the server directly).  My connection to that server is stable.  I use VNC from my PC to the server and user's workstation.  Those VNC sessions are stable and do not drop.

The user is a local admin on their machine.  the machine is a member of the domain.  the user is a domain user.  The machine is setup to redirect the users My Documents to a share on the server called "Users"  (the UNC is actually \\server1\users).  This is significant in that there are at least 15 other shares visible at \\server1 when browsing the network from any domain computer in the network.

While watching the user's desktop session, I observed that the offline files status indicates "Offline Files - Working Offline".  During this condition, shares on the server are unreachable (appear to not exist at all).  Navigating to \\server1 while this condition exists reveals that only "Users" is visible.  Attempting to map a drive letter (or otherwise access any server1\share) fails.  Pinging the server by name or IP works as normal during this "offline" event.  My VNC session and VPN connection to the server are not interrupted during this event.

After what appears to be a random time, I can right-click on the offline files icon and choose synchronize and all server connections are restored (that is, browsing to \\server1 now shows all the shares available again.

Again, after what appears to be a random time, the "offline files - working offline" event reoccurs and the cycle repeats.  (NOTE: I'm not asking about Offline Files...that is just a "landmark" to illustrate the larger problem and is symptomatic of the underyling problem, imo.)

There are no log entries that I can find either on the domain controller (server1) or the user's workstation that relate to this event.

My Question:  
Based on the above descripton, and answers to any clarifing questions experts may choose to ask, what's possibly going on here?  Is it the computer account in the domain that's spontaneously losing/regaining trust?  I'm open to any ideas that help me solve this issue!

Thanks,
Terry Cole
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Question by:colepc
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13 Comments
 
LVL 30

Expert Comment

by:renazonse
ID: 24365187
Is it just the 1 user? What type of licensing does the server has. The description you're giving points to a licensing issue where the server blocks the user's or the machine's communication with the server. Per server or Per computer licensing will cause issues like this in an SBS environment.

Just something to look into.
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Author Comment

by:colepc
ID: 24365202
More info...looking at the managed switch, on the port for that user's pc, there are no errors recorded for packet loss, etc.
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Author Comment

by:colepc
ID: 24365218
Hi renazonse...good question.  Just checking that, shows 20 licenses installed and only 18 as maximum usage.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:akrdm
ID: 24365224
Do you know if this same thing happens if you use Remote Desktop connection instead of VNC?  Windows XP has a Remote Desktop natavely built into the system and just needs to be enabled.  It would be an interesting test to see if while useing the RDP over the VPN if you still had the same connectivity issues with the files going off line. If you don't then this could indicate it is an issue with the VNC software.  Just something to try. Hope this helps.  Let me know the results please.
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Author Comment

by:colepc
ID: 24365244
This issue is only affecting one workstation in the network that I'm aware of.  However, it's affecting all users on that workstation...affects whoever's logged in.  The thing that's brought this to the surface today is that we changed users on that machine yesterday (added the new user, made them a local admin).  The condition has followed users.  I did not copy profiles from the old user to the new.
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Author Comment

by:colepc
ID: 24365265
Thanks akrdm...not really a thing that would apply.  VNC is not part of the users' experience, just my support tool.  The condition occurs whether or not VNC is operating.  

I mentioned VNC and the VPN for references to the general network integrity...that is, it's not a general network failure or my VNC (and/or VPN to the server) woudl be dropping too.  Would you agree?
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Expert Comment

by:renazonse
ID: 24365292
Hmmm..I'm not convinced yet, does the event log show any license issues? That'd be the best indication.

If not my next solution would be to check the browser service or workstation service on that machine. There's a few viruses out right now that are stopping one or both of these services, potentially confiker.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:akrdm
ID: 24365338
Yes sorry I thought that the issue was only happening over the VPN connection.  Since that is not the case please disregard my suggestion.
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Author Comment

by:colepc
ID: 24365353
I've not seen any licensing events.  Filtering the application event log (on the server) for LicenseService produces zero results.  Nothing found in workstation event log either related to licensing.
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LVL 63

Expert Comment

by:SysExpert
ID: 24366179
Sounds more like a  local network issue on the PC

   
XP TCPIP fixes reset NIC and TCPIP reset  Fix TCPIP reset
From johnb6767

What I like to do on any network problem....Is to reset it ALL....

netsh int ip reset reset.log
netsh firewall reset
netsh winsock reset

Then remove ALL NIC's from the device manager..
In the Device Manager, select View>Show Hidden Devices

(If the Show Hidden devices is not presetn, do the following command from a command prompt..)

start>run>cmd
set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1

More information on that command here....
Device Manager does not display devices that are not connected to the Windows XP-based computer
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315539
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/317518/en-us


Go back to Network Adapters, and make sure your adapters are all gone, including any older ones. (there will be several ' miniport' devices that are not able to be uninstalled....)
Once they are all gone, reboot and let Windows reinstall them...

Thats a total rebuild of your network connections, to hopefully correct any problems with Basic connectivity.


I hope this helps !

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LVL 66

Accepted Solution

by:
johnb6767 earned 500 total points
ID: 24367090
Nice post....  :) (thank you for not stealing it, BTW.....)

Honestly, I think this is a low level problem that has nothing to do with licensing, shares etc... Strictly a connection issue. Thats why you are seeing the blip about "Working Offline". There are a few things to ask about this....

Just to confirm.....
This is WIRED, not Wireless, right?
Any Power Management happening onthe NIC in the device properties in the Device Manager?

Basically what happens, is when you have ANY connection in Network State, you lose your connection, and Windows thinks that Server is now offline. It wont even try and send packets to it if you try and access it, unless you are using a UNC/IP connection type. \\server wont go where, which I am guessing thats how the shares/mappings are setup.

Theres a few things to do.....

When you show "Working Offline", go to your explorer window where the shares dont exist (like they are supposed to), and go to start>run>and enter the following.....

mobsync /logon

Let the synch complete (IMPORTANT, as it not only synchs, but it tells windows that the remote server is now in an "Online State". The shares should pop up......

If this works.....
There is a reg key in the folowing KB atricle, just look for the "Forced silent auto reconnection " section towards the bottom.....

Files that you add to the Offline Files folder on a Windows XP-based computer are synchronized when another person uses the computer
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=811660

Excerpt.....

Forced silent auto reconnection
When a server has been unavailable (offline mode) and then becomes available again for connection, Offline Files Client Side Caching tries to transition that server to online mode if all the following conditions are true:
There are no offline changes for that server on the local computer.
There are no open file handles for that server on the local computer.
The server is accessed over a fast link. You can adjust the definition of slow and fast by using the SlowLinkSpeed Offline Files policy.
With this hotfix, you can configure Offline Files Client Side Caching to ignore these conditions and transition the server to online mode regardless of whether these conditions exist. To do this, follow these steps:
Click Start, click Run, type REGEDIT, and then click OK.
Locate and click the following registry subkey:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\NetCache
Click Edit, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
Type SilentForcedAutoReconnect, and then press ENTER to name the value.
Double-click SilentForcedAutoReconnect.
In the Value data box, type 1, and then click OK.
Note After you apply this hotfix, the following behavior may occur:
Any offline changes will remain unsynchronized and unavailable until the changes are synchronized in the future. This situation causes a dirty cache condition that is announced through a small warning overlay image on the Offline Files icon in the notification area.
Any open handles to files that are cached on the associated server will be automatically closed and invalidated. This action may cause problems if the programs that are using those files cannot work gracefully with invalid file handles.
If the server is available over a slow network link, such as a satellite link or a telephone line, the server will still be transitioned online. This scenario may cause very slow access to the remote file system on the server from the local computer.



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LVL 66

Expert Comment

by:johnb6767
ID: 24367150
Configuring Group Policy for Offline Files
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc759721.aspx

Action on server disconnect
Non-default server disconnect actions

Those are the 2 GPO settings that apply to this scenario...... Might also want to configure the "Configure Slow link speed" for this PC, in case thats what's dropping it into an "Offline Mode"...
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Author Closing Comment

by:colepc
ID: 31580554
Outstanding...sorry for taking so long to close.  Thanks for your help!
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