Add dual network adapter to SBS 2003 server

Posted on 2013-10-31
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
My out of warranty Dell T300 motherboard has dual NICs.

The InternetNIC LEDs no longer light.

It can't be SBS2003 software because the symptom occurs immediately seconds after power on -- connecting a switch will light NIC#1, but not NIC#2. But, perhaps a CMOS issue might cause this?  (I had to replace the CMOS battery recently but I don't think the problem coincided with that change).

I'm 90% sure the hardware failure can be fixed by buying a new dual NIC. But I want to be 99% sure before I waste time and effort.  Plus, I've heard that SBS 2003 can be very touchy about networking cards.

So, I hope somebody can review this post, and make a few suggestions to boost my confidence.

--------------  more details ------------------

We have two identical t300 servers. ServerA is at work and runs sbs2003. ServerB is stored at a hot site (at my home in a spare bedroom) for backup purposes. We use shadowprotect to make nightly saves of ServerA.

The T300 has dual NICs -- InternetNIC is connected to the Internet firewall router, and LocalNIc is connected to a local network 24 port switch. The NICs are stacked in a single case and soldered to the motherboard.

We test our disaster recovery plan on ServerB about twice a year.  

Last week's test worked perfectly including a working connection to the internet.  But, I was testing some new software and various things like fax server etc that caused me to move the server around a bit and disconnect and reconnect the NICs maybe 6 or 8 times. I also rebooted maybe 4 or 5 times.

After one of the reconnects I could no longer get to the internet.  I wiggled the internet Cat5 and the NIC LED flashed on, then flashed off.  This happened once or twice, but now it is always off, no matter what.  

Certainly seems to me that it must be hardware.  

So, my fixit plan is to
1) install a Intel PRO/1000 Pt Dual Port Server Adapter
2) View Network connection and disable the LocalNIC, so only the two new NICs are enabled.
3) Run CEICW wizard to configure the new NICS.

What do you folks think?
Question by:rberke
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LVL 35

Accepted Solution

Cris Hanna earned 2000 total points
ID: 39614657
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/555605  - Network Card Swap causes Configure Email and Internet Connection Wizard to Fail

One of the other MVP's, Kevin W, wrote a great blog about replacing NICs in SBS 2003

Author Comment

ID: 39615881
Good links.  Their idea of disabling the NICs in the bios led me to do an F2 at reboot.  There I discovered NIC1 was fine, but NIC2 showed "mac address" as "not present"

I googled those and came across an article with the solution.

1. unplug
2. Remove battery
3. disconnect all network cards am cables.
4. push power button (this discharges most capacitive circuits.)
5. reseat all connections.
6. plug in a reboot.

The article also spoke of shorting across a jumper, but I did not need to follow that step.

It took 5 minutes altogether and worked like a charm.

By the way, I believe the cause of the problem was the old battery.  The server had sat neglected for 8 months causing the batter to completely discharge. When I first booted for the disaster test, I got messages like "Memory/battery problems were detected. The adapter has recovered, but cached data was lost" and the T300 status display said "poweredge t300 e1210 cmos battery".

The NIC light went out shortly after that.  I replaced with a fresh battery over the weekend, but it did not help, but I didn't follow the above procedure, When I did it today it fixed everything.


Author Comment

ID: 39617074
Ooops, I spoke too soon.  It is clearly more complicated than an simply replacing an old battery. Even with the new battery, we still have problems.

As long as I leave the ServerB powered on NIC2 works fine but it becomes "not present" when I power off.

As a test,
1) I reset ServerB CMOS by removing the new battery & re-seating cards.
2) I booted to f2 setup and confirmed that NIC2 now had a Mac Address. '
3) I continued boot to SBS2003 and reset the clock and confirmed that network connections showed both NICs.
4) NIC1 & NIC2 were attached to switch1 port 1 and switch2 port 1. The switch LEDs showed green (1000 mbps connections).
5) I powered off and left the CPU off. The switch lights both showed amber (connection not active)
6) After about a minute, the switch2 light went off.  
Rebooting with F2 confirmed that NIC2 was now "Not present".

So, hardware is the problem, and adding a new dual NIC card is probably the fix.

I worry that the motherboard is failing which might cause continuing problems.

I am going to suggest we move ServerB into production and the ServerA into the hotsite as backup.
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LVL 35

Expert Comment

by:Cris Hanna
ID: 39617283
Well, you should also understand that SBS 2003 is completely unsupported after April of 2014 and after Dec 31, THIS YEAR 2013,  No version of SBS will be for sale (you might find a few)

I think you should be worried about the hardware.   This would be a system in need of an upgrade if I ever saw one.

Author Comment

ID: 39617375
We decided to pay DELL for an extension of the warranty. They will be coming out next week.

By the way, the CPU is much younger than the software and is capable of running server 2012.  

But, the boss is happy with server 2003 and does not see much benefit in upgrading.

Thanks for your help.

LVL 35

Expert Comment

by:Cris Hanna
ID: 39617407
I dunno how many users you have but I could list at least 6 reasons to upgrade

If you more than 10 users you could take advantage of adding more RAM to the box
SBS 2011 is more secure
Exchange 2010 works much better with todays smart devices
OWA for Exchange 2010 is practically like using Outlook
Remote Web Workplace is much improved
Shared files are accessible via the web

There are many more...and after April 2014, no more security patching for SBS 2003

Author Comment

ID: 39617453
Thanks.  I'll keep those in mind

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