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SBS 2008 intermittent networking problem

Posted on 2010-09-14
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
To me it seems like the network traffic on the server is either dropping or freezing for short periods of time.

Symptoms
- The most visible is when you open Outlook, after 4-20 minutes you will get a box popping up asking for a username and password. You can click cancel, and then if you click where it will say "Need password" on the bottom of the screen it connects right up without having to enter in a username or password. (see screenshot #1)

Once this happens the time period in which there is an issue seems to very from a second or two to maybe 30 seconds, normally it is on the shorter end. When this happens the following events also seem to happen.
- Trying to connect to the server results in the error message that RDP can’t connect to the remote computer (see screenshot #2)
- If it is a longer time period any RDP session currently established with the server will get disconnected (same holds true when using LogMeIn to access the server from the outside)
- Again if the server does this for more than just a split second or two a user that is connecting to their own computer through RWW their RDP session will be dropped as well.
- server is pingable both via IP address and name during this time
- when going to start -> run -> \\servername  sometimes it can't find the path other times it hesitates for 5 seconds and then the window opens.

Notes
- This is a brand new network, one SBS 2008 Server (Dell T310) and 12 new workstations (Dell Optiplex 380) running Windows 7 professional with Office 2010. This is a new domain, the only "migration" that was done was manually exporting the mail out of each mailbox from Exchange 2000 and copying the files from the old server to the new server.
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- Another item I have noticed is that if I am downloading a large file (Example, Exchange SP3) from the Internet it will get part way through and then it hangs, no errors, the progress bar just doesn't move forward anymore.
- Seems to be server specific issue. If I download a large file from the internet using a workstation it will complete just fine.
- I don't think this is an Exchange/Outlook issue per se, but Outlook provides the most visible indicator of when the problem occurs and it doesn't automatically fix itself, you have to click to make it reconnect.
- As strange as it sounds if I keep a constant ping going to each of the workstations from the server then Outlook never seems to "disconnect" and ask for a username/password, though some of the other symptoms will still occur, but as the timing of opening a file or trying to connect via RDP has to coincide with one of these glitches to notice, the end users don't notice more than a few times a day.  
- There are no errors in the event logs on either the server or the workstation.
- The only other software running on the server is FileMaker Pro Server v9 and our Antivirus software management software (ESET's RA server and console)

What I have done:
- I have run the BPA tool and fixed the issues that have come up. It is still complaining that IPv6 is turned off even though it isn't. (a co-worker turned it off in the NIC properties, but then discovered that Exchange needed it so he turned it back on)
- I have disabled the two onboard Broadcom NIC's and installed a new Intel gigabit adapter. Didn't make a difference.
- Pulled out all my hair
- Uninstalled antivirus software (ESET's NOD32 v3)

Final Comments
This is driving me crazy, we are having other issues that I am pretty sure are being caused by this root issue. (Word/Excel documents occasionally hang on opening, Remote Web Work place VB Script errors/disconnects, etc), I have contacted Microsoft tech support and so far they haven't been able to pinpoint the issue. Any of you Experts have some ideas?
 Screenshot #1 - Outlook     Screenshot #2 - RDP Error
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Question by:AmbientIT
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9 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:wolfcamel
ID: 33679465
there are some updates for exchange that you need to do - at least rollup9
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Author Comment

by:AmbientIT
ID: 33679471
I forgot to mention that I installed Exchange SP3 (part of the BPA results) and it didn't make any difference.
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Expert Comment

by:wolfcamel
ID: 33679492
also - after changing the network cards/settings have you re-run the wizards?
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by:AmbientIT
ID: 33680032
Which wizards specifically? I just re-ran the Internet Connection one, non of the others jumped out at me as needing to be done. The issue still exists.
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Expert Comment

by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 33681860
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Expert Comment

by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 33681867
Make sure the SBS server is only pointing to itself for DNS in the TCP\IP properties
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Author Comment

by:AmbientIT
ID: 33684407
TCP Chimney was turned off on the OS level, was on on the Intel NIC, I have turned it off, but the issue still persists.

DNS in the TCP/IP settings is only pointed to itself
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Expert Comment

by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 33684448
Disable Large Offload as well.

Restart the server
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Accepted Solution

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AmbientIT earned 0 total points
ID: 33697550
So after 27 hours of working on this we got it resolved. It was a simple IP Address conflict. A managed switch was sharing the same IP address. This totally explains the behavior, but it took isolating the server with a single workstation using a small 4 port switch to figure it out.
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