XP Pro as file server / "too many connections"

Posted on 2011-10-25
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
We have a Windows XP Pro system in use as a file server.  
We're using it both as a file server and as a backup device for 5 computers - so they are mapped as T:, Y:, X:, W:, V:
All of these computers are shut off over the weekends (but not the "server")

After years of working in this relatively unchanged environment, we've suddenly started seeing two problems which may be related:

First, the mapped drives started showing up as "Disconnected Network Drive". Well, maybe they showed that way before but everthing worked nonetheless.  Now, at times our backup program has not been able to open them.  At other times it appears that they *do* open.  
So, I have run as a scheduled batch:
NET USE T: "\\A1\C\Folder1" /persistent:YES
NET USE V: "\\A2\C\Folder2" /persistent:YES
NET USE W: "\\A3\C\Folder3" /persistent:YES
NET USE Y: "\\A5\C\Folder5" /persistent:YES

And, I have run:
net config server /autodisconnect:-1

Well, now it seems that the mapped drive/folders (which were really no problem in the past) are working again....
But now when someone wants to access a file on the "server" they get something like:

Access denied, too many users connected, try again later ....  something like that.

The accesses aren't web pages so I don't know that IIS has anything at all to do with this.
I know the "10 connection" limitation but don't see how it could be violated unless there are accesses from one computer that persist which are added to by accesses from the same computer later, etc.

I don't know if the mapped drives constitute "connections".  Do they?  Seems like the connections are going the other way or are they bilateral?

I don't know how to list the connections.  How?  This might help in debugging this issue.

Going all the way back to the beginning, why should we suddenly have problems with mapped drives not being accessible when they were before?  Any ideas there?
Question by:Fred Marshall
    LVL 4

    Assisted Solution

    "Netstat -a" will list the connection to the network card.
    LVL 22

    Accepted Solution

    Another way is to go to the XP box acting as the file server, right-click on My Computer, go to Manage.  Drill into Shared Folders>Sessions and see how many connections are open.
    LVL 66

    Expert Comment

    You do realize you have a 10 connection limit (not 10 pcs, but 10 connections)...

    Thats in xp pro. 5 in home...

    I would consider upgrading to win 7, get up to 20 connectiins...
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    If it is used purely as a file server you might consider Linux (eg Centos) where you will not have any connection limits.
    LVL 25

    Author Comment

    by:Fred Marshall
    lockrevt:  netstat -a gives an interesting list but I'm not sure how to interpret the whole thing.  It's pretty long.

    alienss:  My Computer / Manage .... etc. gives a pretty interesting list under Sessions.  It seems more focused on what I'm dealing with here.  So that is particularly helpful.

    johnb6767:  Yes, going to Windows 7 is something we've done in other cases like this.  But this one seemed so stable for so long .....

    Can anyone tell me what consitutes a "Session"?  Here are some examples:

    a) If, on the "server", I map a drive letter to a folder on *another computer*, does that create a Session?  It seems to me that it would create a Session on that other computer but not the "server".
    b)  If, on another computer, they open a folder on the "server" does that create a Session?  (I think yes).
    c)  If (b) happens and then then the folder is closed, does the Session go away right away or does it wait for some timeout?
    d) if one runs this command on the "server":

     ... which is supposed to disable autodisconnect

    on the "server", then does that affect the answer to (c) or not?

    e) if one runs that command on the "server", does it persist forever or only until the next boot or ... ?
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    by:Adam Leinss
    a) don't believe that does, it only creates a session when someone connects to one of its shared folders
    b) yes

    I'm not sure about c, d or e
    LVL 66

    Expert Comment

    c)  If (b) happens and then then the folder is closed, does the Session go away right away or does it wait for some timeout?

    Normally remains afterwards for some time, not sure if there is a specific default in Seconds/Mins.....

    d) if one runs this command on the "server":

    Not always, although it is supposed to do this....

    e) if one runs that command on the "server", does it persist forever or only until the next boot or ... ?

    Setting is permanent.

    Here is MS' official doco on the limit....

    Inbound connections limit in Windows XP

    Note, that 1 system can create multiple connections.....

    And it does sugges tthe autodisconnect as well, I just speak above from experience. It is not 100% reliable in a lot of cases, although I usually use it to disable AutoDisconnect....

    LVL 66

    Assisted Solution


     ... which is supposed to disable autodisconnect"

    You do not want to disable this.... Not in your scenario......
    LVL 25

    Author Closing Comment

    by:Fred Marshall
    Thanks all

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