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XP workstations suddenly can't connect to or access Server 2003 workgroup share

Posted on 2010-09-17
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Last Modified: 2013-11-09
We have a small office with 9 XP desktops that have been accessing a workgroup share on our Dell PowerEdge sc430 running Server 2003 for at least 3 years now with no problems.  The Server has a static IP - all desktops are DHCP.
Over the past few days there have been intermittent connection problems with the desktops connecting to the main share on the Server.

 In the workgroup list under Network Neighborhood, the list of all machines on the network shows up just fine from the XP desktops.. But clicking on the Server share results in an hourglass and sometimes crashes Explorer, with no error message.  This happens with ALL the desktops at the same time.  While this connection problem to the Server is occurring, the desktops have no trouble accessing other shares on the network (other XP machines)

The Server also has no problem accessing shares on the desktop machines during this trouble.  But the Server also gets an hourglass with no response in Explorer if I click on the Server share from the Server.

A reboot of the Server fixes the problem - anywhere from 2-12 hours - then the trouble connecting from the desktops starts again.
Two things I have tried (that might get reset on a reboot?):  Unchecking and re-checking File and Printer sharing for the NIC on the Server; and doing a Repair from the NIC Property sheet.  Neither one helped.

I have tried Mapping a drive to the Server share from the XP desktops - with \\Server\Share and \\192.168.1.10\Share - neither works.

Using Browstat, I've discovered the Master Browser is one of the XP machines that is always turned on, and the backup Browser is on the Server.
But from what I've read so far, if you're having trouble with the Master Browser, you should still be able to Map a drive - correct me if I'm wrong.
I'm not a networking expert, but I can't see any errors in the System or Application logs that might give a clue.

The only software change made recently on the Server was an upgrade 3 weeks ago to our Anti-Virus: Trend Worry-Free Security Standard - from version 5.1 to 6.0.  We do not use the Trend firewall component.

Thanks for reading this far!

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Question by:samsterid
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by:jkurzner
ID: 33705213
Sounds like a server network adapter going bad.
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by:samsterid
ID: 33706077
Disabled the onboard NIC and tried a spare one - same problem
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by:Insideview
ID: 33712047
Are there any quota's in use that could be being reached
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by:HRL
ID: 33712373
Just a thought.
When was the last time you defragmented the server. I have had intermittent connctions to a server due to badly frag'd server files. If it is more than 25% fragmented, you will experience performance hits. At 70%, you will experience what you have described. At 80%, you will probably not be able to connect to download or transfer the files, the software is so busy trying to organize it.
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by:samsterid
ID: 33712411
@ jkurzner
If it is a bad NIC, would rebooting somehow fix it for a while?  And why would it only be in one direction?  (The Server can still access the desktop shares ok)

@ Insideview
I'm not sure what you mean by "quotas".
There is plenty of storage room left on the drive with the Server share.  I have not noticed any shortage of RAM in task manager.



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by:jkurzner
ID: 33712427
Yes, I have seen bad nicks work for a while and then stop.  Work and then stop.  The only thing that I found fixed the problem was installing a newer NIC.  Perhaps the old NIC wasn't actually bad, but just not as well supported as drivers got updated.  All I know is that was the only thing that solved my similar problem.
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Expert Comment

by:Insideview
ID: 33712463
If you right click the c: in explorer and choose properties then the quota tab you will see that you can set limits for users so they don't use up all the hard drive space. I'm not sure it applies to individual folders though.
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by:ChiefIT
ID: 33713657
You will need to explicitly set your 2003 server as the domain master browser, and prevent the xp machine from being the domain master. What you are running into is a browser conflict and an xp machine took over as domain master.

This is what you are running into. If the XP machine takes over as domain master, the browser service on the 2003 server will stop>

Here is a perfect example of what you will see.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Server/2003_Server/Q_23610061.html

Set the registry key for the xp machine to say it is NOT the domain master browser.

Set the same registry key on the 2003 server to say it Isdomainmaster.

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by:samsterid
ID: 33713857
@ ChiefIT

Thanks for that suggestion, but I wish you could confirm my earlier point about not being able to map a drive while the problem is occurring.  Is it true that I should be able to map a drive to the Server share no matter where the Master Browser is located? ( Mapping a drive from the XP desktops also fails during the problem)
If I follow your suggestion, does that mean I would have to make the XP registry change to ALL nine XP machines?

Also, if the Master Browser is located somewhere besides the Server, why are all the other shares on the XP machines still visible and working just fine in Network Neighborhood? (Including from the Server)

(The only 8021 & 8032 Errors in the Event log are over a year old.)

In that case, would I be better off enabling WINS on the Server? (Which I have heard is more reliable than using just the Master Browser system)

Sam
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by:HRL
ID: 33715695
The problem that you are describing (with all the consequences that you mention) can be caused by a badly fragmented drive on the server.
I humbly suggest that you try the simple solution before looking for a more complex one. If it does not help then move onto the more complex soluions.
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ChiefIT earned 500 total points
ID: 33716933
Upon winning the election, the master browser service will STOP. This is the problem with mapping network drives with your 2003 server.

The XP machine won the election process, the 2003 server stopped the browser service and therefore will not participate in elections. All other clients found the XP machine as being the master browser. But, when the xp machine is turned off, another election is created and the master browser may/may not go back to the 2003 server, Hence intermittent communications with the server.

Bottom line is the master browser service keeps a UNC map of all shares, printers and computers. This is called a MUP cache, (meaning Multiple UNC Path cache). When having problems with the MUP cache, your computers may experience the symptoms you have. This is why it is important for you to explicitly define the domain master browser.

WINS is used because the browselist is populated by netbios broadcasts. Netbios broadcasts are held at the broadcast domain. WINS is not. A simple WINS connection between site master browsers allows you to see multiple sites browselist, (or in essence, share the Multiple UNC Paths).

Clients hold a small scale Netbios cache to perform resolution before seaking the master browser. So, sometimes clients can perform their own resolution, without a master browser available.
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Author Comment

by:samsterid
ID: 33800551
Well, my problem has not cropped up for 2 weeks now.  Even though it was present for a day or so after I swapped in a new NIC, the new NIC seems to have cleared up the problem.

I did defrag the drive a few days ago - thanks for that suggestion - perhaps there were some fragmented files being accessed that were also causing problems.

I understand that UNC mapping of drives might fail if the Master Browser is not running on the Server.
But if the Master Browser is not running on the Server, will mapping also fail when I use the IP? ( \\10.1.1.10\share )
We generally don't map drives anyway, I was only trying to map a drive with the IP as a way to troubleshoot.

It seems like a good idea to turn off the Master Browser on all XP machines - I'll do that soon.
We are now getting a few Windows 7 workstations - does the same rule apply to them also?

Thanks for all the help - Sam

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by:ChiefIT
ID: 33800793
Mapping by IP uses a different protocol than Netbios as a pointer to the individual computer holding the share. So, in short, if you map by IP and there is a problem with the browser, there will not be a problem with the mapping. Instead, you will loose computers in "my network places" and some third party software as well as some domain services will not work well because they use this browselist.
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by:Qlemo
ID: 34195127
This question has been classified as abandoned and is being closed as part of the Cleanup Program.  See my comment at the end of the question for more details.
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