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Windows Server 2003 SBS intermittently unreachable

Posted on 2009-05-14
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I have just installed an HP Proliant server, running Windows 2003 Server SBS Standard R2 (SP2).  I originally set this up in my shop (which is on a .15 subnet), and installed it yesterday in the client's location (a .1 subnet).  I have changed the IP accordingly.  This is supposed to be a file server, but has the option to expand as needs warrant.  We have 5 client PCs and 1 spare.  The clients are not set up on Active Directory, nor do they want to be at this time.

After anywhere between 1-2 hours, the server quits responding to requests to file sharing.  At the same time, I can't access the server's DNS server or Remote Desktop Connection.  However, it does respond to pings with no problem.  Eventually, it starts working again.  Sometimes though, the PCs do have to reboot in order to return to normal.

Here is what I have tried so far...
- Changing the IP (using the Server Management tool, not just in network connections, so that SBS changes all IPs accordingly)
- Winsock reset
- the netsh int ip reset command
- checked to see if LSP needed to be fixed.
- Disabled IPSEC (per a couple of other questions and such).
- New switch
- Packet monitoring from the server does not yield connection requests on the SMB ports, but it will pick up broadcasts from when the PC is looking for the server.

I haven't tried to replace the DSL modem/router yet.  That device is an old Cayman 3220-H from Bellsouth (AT&T).  It's so old it has a 4-port hub in it.  However, nothing, other than the new switch, is hooked up to the hub.  Everything else is on the new switch.

This is a fresh load of Windows SBS, and I had no problems in the office when setting it up.

Any ideas/suggestions?
Question by:heichers
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Expert Comment

ID: 24393283
I have experienced this kind of random network flakeyness on HP Proliants running SBS as well. Usually it is caused by one of two things - either a lousy smartstart cd or support pack driver versions (especially related to adapter teaming), or antivirus spiking the CPU (usually because exchange folders are not excluded).
What antivirus are you running on the server and have you created an exception list for the various exchange folders, IIS temporary compressed files, and inetserv directories? Does the server CPU spike when it becomes unavailable?
Did you do the build with the most recent version of the SmartStart CD and if not, have you applied the latest support pack from HP? Does the server have two NICs and are you using the adapter teaming function?
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 24393473
Any others experiencing intermittent connectivity??

Lots of things can cause this. So, let's narrow it down.

1) Wrong Duplex settings on the NIC. >>DEVICE MANAGER>>Hardware, NIC properties>>advanced>>auto negotiate (recommended)
2) Multihomed server??  Two or more NICS as mentioned above.
3) wrong preferred DNS server on the NIC of the server.
4) Cisco switches and routers Duplex settings are not the exact same
5) MTU channels are incorrectly configured. MTU stands for Multiple Transferable Unit. Your settings should be at 1495, (I think is the default). To test this, check it with an MTU Ping. 
6) Your Host file could be configured on the server. This is unlikely but plausible.

Author Comment

ID: 24395759
Just an update/clarification...

- I had it defaulted on Auto Negotiate (which is where I prefer it to be anyway).  Now, I have it set to 100Mbps (full duplex), which is the max speed of the switch.  I've seen cases where on Gigabit NICs they have had issues with connectivity on slower networks.  Verified the duplex settings as such.
- There is no Cisco equipment on the network
- The 2nd NIC on the server is disabled altogether, as there is no need for it.
- Exchange and IIS are not running (not needed)
- Preferred DNS servers are set correctly.
- Host file is default settings
- MTU is set to 1492.
- Right now, I am not running any Antivirus on the server, which is being installed last.

There are also no server CPU spikes when this occurs.

I also had disabled a lot of the HP services, which I installed from the latest support pack I downloaded from HP.  I also went ahead and replaced their DSL modem, replacing it with a Netopia 3341.  I've had it running for 17 hours now, and it seems to have no issues.  I will keep this question updated, and will monitor things over the weekend.

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LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 24395882
Yes some Gig cards have problem auto negotiating with a 10/100 switch. I ran into that yesterday on one of my Scientific acquisition machines. I considered using it as a boat anchor. I am going all to 1Gig within a few days because of the expense of not collecting our scientific data.

For you, you might buy a $20 dollar 10/100 Fast Ethernet nic and disable your Gig Nic until the network switches and routers support a Gig.

Author Comment

ID: 24397541
I thought about that, but it's PCI-X only, and it's hard to find a 10/100 PCI-X NIC in this town without having to order one (you would think even Best Buy would carry them... they don't... I even had one idiot at one of the chain stores give me the excuse that they're coming up with another PCI-X revision so they're waiting for that to come out... I just looked at him wondering what in the hell he was talking about).  Otherwise, if it were PCI, I wouldn't have that issue.

Well, so far, it seems like they're working.  Again, I'm going to keep monitoring it.

Expert Comment

ID: 24398737
I'm wondering... is the router acting as dhcp? I normally would not suspect the router in this case and wouldn't have advised/wouldn't have expected that it would have any impact, but my deployments of SBS make full use of the services including AD, DNS, Exchange, etc. If the rouer is providing DHCP, then i suspect that either it or external servers are providing DNS, which would mean that you would be at the mercy of the router's tables for name resolution to some extent.
BestBuy don't got nothin but consumer grade junk (with a few exceptions). And if any of their support people knew what they were talkin bout they'd be doing what you're doing. Sorry about the smack talk. The best they can offer is their BestBuy for Business (not GeekSquad) department, which does handle comercial grade products, but doesn't keep them in stock.
Find a local, independent whitebox builder with a storefront, or a MicroCenter (though they aren't much better than BestBuy) or maybe Fryes (though it's been a while since I've had access to one so they may be totally consumer focused also).
Finally, I seem to recall something fuzzy about a similar situation which required turning off what i thought was called "stovepiping" on the newer HP nics, which i believe was done through a registry edit. I can't find anything about such a setting either here or on the web at large. Perhaps this jogs someone else's memory.

Author Comment

ID: 24399773
Originally, DHCP was handled by the router.  But, that has since been turned off (both in the old and new router) and is being handled by the server.  I also have them using the server as DNS, with the proper DNS forwards set up (it's not my first SBS server, or any Windows server, I've set up by any means).  

We don't have many options for computer parts around here, other than Best Buy and the other office stores.  Fry's isn't around here, either.  I know that from the pain of having to locate a PCI-X NIC in this area for another project (one that required Dual NICs, and the board's only PCI slot was being used).  

I can look and see on the last bit you're talking about, unless someone beats me to it.

Accepted Solution

heichers earned 0 total points
ID: 24432287
Well, it's working fine now, and after a few tweaks, it's consistently fast.

Here's what has been done to make it so...

- Ensured the 2nd NIC is disabled (in BIOS, not just through Windows)
- Replaced that Cayman 3220-H with a Netopia 3341 (that Cayman seemed to be throwing off the SBS, despite not being directly connected to it)
- Ran a new cable to one of the client PCs (it was slow and failed a cable test)
- Made some registry changes regarding TCP Ack Frequency and TCP Delay Ack Ticks to solve some issues with file activity slowness
( and as inspirations)
- Disabled the HP services, especially those related to Networking.  I really don't care for them anyway.

I also returned the NIC that is turned on back to Auto, with no complications.

Thanks for at least helping me in solving the issue.

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