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SBS 2008 Intermitten Freezing, Problematic

Posted on 2010-09-02
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Hi all,

A client of ours has SBS 2008 running on a HP ProReliant ML115.  Last week there were some power issues and the server was powered down ungracefully.  Since then the server has been giving repeated problems, for example:

Today I went onsite, hard-restarted the system (frozen) and it came up fine (although stuck at "Applying Computer Settings" for about 25 minutes).  Client PCs were able to access the internet and network drives.  I left and while I was gone, connectivity went down.  I cam back and the server was functioning ok but clients had no access.

I restarted the PC, as before stuck at "Applying Computer Settings" for 20 mins or so.  It booted up and clients gained access.  When it got to "CTRL, ALT DEL" screen, it froze halfway through me entering the password.  I left it for 5 minutes and it unfroze and I was able to enter the rest of the password.

I've been completely unable to uninstall the network card (to reinstall it) - all attempts to do this freeze at "Uninstalling".

I've updated the NIC drivers, checked for updates, switched the entire server hardware for an identical ML115 we have on had for this sort of thing, no luck.

I ran a chkdsk offline and it found an repaired some problems, I ran defrag for as long as I could but as SBS gives no indication of progress, after three hours I stopped it.

There seem to be no errors in the event log that coincide with the timing of the freezes.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thanks!

Bob
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Question by:Mango-Man
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Expert Comment

by:Philip Elder
ID: 33593289
Run a consistency check on the RAID arrays to make sure they were not damaged by the abrupt power disconnection. This can be the #1 killer of RAID arrays among other server services damage.

Run the Fix My Network Wizard under the network tab in the SBS Console. See if that picks up on any network corruption. Note any DHCP reservations as they may get reset.

You can also run the Internet Address wizard which reseats certain network settings. You will need to use the Third Party Trusted Certificates Wizard again if you added one earlier.

Philip
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by:Mango-Man
ID: 33593315
Hi MPECSInc,

I'm not running RAID anymore at present - the array was broken by the move to new hardware (plus I like having a copy of "how it was" until I work out where the problem lies).  I tried running the Internet Connection wizard but this seems to freeze the server, I will try the Fix My Network Wizard tomorrow morning however!

I've read numerous posts since writing here about these ML115 servers having poor SATA/RAID performance due to rubbish drivers from HP.  Many people fixed the problem by manually installed the controller drivers from NVidia - I tried that and the system froze halfway through doing the second controller, trashing the server - had to rollback to "Last Know Good Configuration".

It seems to freeze at completely random times.  Tomorrow I'm going to try removing one pair of RAM (taking it down to 4gb) to see if that helps, although it's going to be hard to tell as the system performance is likely to be so slow!

Thanks again for the suggestion!
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Assisted Solution

by:Philip Elder
Philip Elder earned 2000 total points
ID: 33593354
The base chipset for the box is built by nVidia?!?

Their software "RAID" is definitely not a good place to go.

Make sure your backups are good.

Run chkdsk /f on the various partitions. It may never come back when you reboot to do the system partition. That's why the backups must be good.

Philip
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Author Comment

by:Mango-Man
ID: 33593418
Hi Philip,

NVidia RAID - my thoughts exactly.  Just out of curiosity, I notice you call it software RAID (and I saw someone else do the same) but to my mind this is hardware RAID as it runs O/S independant.  Am I missing something?

I ran CHKDSK on all partitions (booted from a utilitity disk and did it offline), found various problems and repaired but issues remained.

Tomorrow I'm also going to try uninstalling the Firewall/AV suite (Trend) as I've seen it cause issue with networking before on SBS 2K8.

My priority with this is to get the client up and running ASAP, even if it means this all has to be redone in a few weeks time (the reason being I am short staffed and we're recovering from a Hurricane so I have hundreds of clients in similar situations).

Many thanks again for the suggestions, wish me luck!  :-D

Bob
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Philip Elder earned 2000 total points
ID: 33593435
Ah, Trend and the legacy TCP/IP stack hooks ... gotta love that one. Uninstall Trend for sure, is the box up to Win2K8 SP2?

Any on board chipset based "RAID" is not a true hardware accelerated RAID. That is, there is not a processor somewhere that is doing all of the required redundancy and read/write calculations. Those operations are being done on the CPU via drivers that are written to do essentially the same thing.

A true RAID solution uses an RoC or RAID on Chip that is a processor that does all of the needed calculations by itself. More advanced RAID solutions will have RAM on the RAID card to facilitate quicker access to repeat calculations and then there is an add-on battery that will allow the RoC to run calculations that involve putting the cache data at risk. Thus the battery.

RoC is always the better way to go.

nVidia has always been a bit problematic for us when it comes to their on board "RAID" setup.

Philip
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by:Mango-Man
ID: 33595227
Thanks Philip!

I must admit, after a good nights sleep, I'm tempted to do a backup and restore to new hardware as we have a top-end quad core system kicking around with proper server mobo, etc.

Thanks for the tips on hardware RAID, I'm going to purchase some cards - do you have a 'weapon of choice'?

Bob
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Assisted Solution

by:Philip Elder
Philip Elder earned 2000 total points
ID: 33596935
For add-in cards on servers we use Intel branded RAID controllers.

Adaptec also makes a very good line of RAID controllers.

Philip
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Author Comment

by:Mango-Man
ID: 33612792
Thanks Philip,

Just as an update, I updated the SATA drivers using the ones from the nVidia website, defragged, updated bios, etc - the usual suspects - now the system is being more responsive.

I'm definitely put right off these servers however.  Even the bios is very limited (you can't disable the onboard NIC at the bios level!).

Thanks for your help

Bob
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LVL 40

Expert Comment

by:Philip Elder
ID: 33613690
Tier 1 ultra-entry level servers have always been a hit-miss situation with us. For our remote clients we recommend starting at the next level up from whatever is being touted as the best "value" by the manufacturer.

By doing that, they may pay a little more up-front, but they will get server grade chipsets, add-in RAID, hot swap capabilities, and hardware level virtualization acceleration.

Thanks for that,

Philip
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