VMware Windows VM keeps crashing

we have 1 x Windows SBS 2011 server VM running on dedicated physical server. Hardware is quite new (HP ML350 G8, Single processor)
Version: VMware ESXi 5.5.0

Problem: VM (SBS 2011) keeps crashing with just a black screen (when checked on VM console on vSphere client), it happens regularly and some day 2-3 times. To fix the problem need to power off the VM and restart and it works fine. thought it was related to memory so added more memory VM has 28GB memory now.

Not sure if it required ESXi update?

Could you please suggest a solution for this issue.

when it is crashed with black screen SBS 2011 local IP still replies the ping request.
thanks, JJ
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Which version of ESXi you are running?

There are a few associated  things you need to consider;

1. Is your server, supported for ESXi 4.x or ESXi 5.0. See Hardware Compatibility List here http://www.vmware.com/go/hcl

2. Does you server have a 64 bit processor, support Intel-VT or AMD-V

If 1 & 2 are fulfilled, you may be able to install/upgrade to ESXi 4.x or ESXi 5.0.
Have you tried patching it with SP1? a
joyjohnAuthor Commented:
as mentioned above Version: VMware ESXi 5.5.0
1. yes it is supported, it uses HP's customised ESXi
2. yes

SP1 for windows ? thanks
Determine the Perfect Price for Your IT Services

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden with our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Download your free eBook now!

yes...patch it with windows SP1, and see if it makes any difference......
Dawid FusekVirtualization Expert, Sr B&R, Storage SpecialistCommented:

try to:
- log on via rdp when it got black screen to check that the SBS is fully responsible so just only crash a graphics interface on the vm (it may happens rare, but happens, then there are some possibilities)
- check what operating system you have set for that SBS vm in the VM properties (should be windows 2008 R2), change it if its not MS Windows 2008 R2
- uninstall vm tools, reboot the SBS and reinstall vm tools again on the vm SBS, reboot VM again
- give me/us a ziped windows system log of the SBS server, also give us an exported ESXi system logs (ESXi host, Menu/File/Export/Export System Logs/ check Generate performance data on default values - it will took 5mins to generate this ESXi system logs)
- check the nics, what kind of vnics you have in the SBS vm?, it should be VMXNET 3 (you need vmtools installed), change the nic if it's other than VMXNET 3

- what power management settings you have on the ESXi server? (ESXi/Configuration/Hardware/Power Management), check that it's not set on "Low Power"
- what power settings you have on the BIOS on the HP ML350 Gen8 Server? if "Power Saving" try to switch on Balanced or High performance, also what is important try to set C-States on not lower (higher state) than C5 (try also C3 or disable C-States for a test)
- do on that server works any other vms? are they working ok? what OS are they?
- how many free memory that SBS have?
- how looks memory (ESXi host/performance/advanced/memory) from perspective of ESXi? (any swapped or balooned memory?) VM may stay unstable if too much swapping
- how looks IOPS (ESXi host/performance/advanced/disk) from perspective of ESXi? any strange lags timeouts? VM may stay unstable when too much timeouts of disk system it has
- how SBS reacts within VM when it working, some minutes after boot? do console working ok, not any freezes or something like that?
- do it reacts much faster via RDP than in vsphere client console? (it always should be faster but differences shouldn't be very huge (no more than 4x faster on RDP)
- what kind of disks, how many and in what RAID you have on that ESXi server (HP ML350 Gen8)?? do You have BBU/BBWC (Battery Backup Unit/Write Cache for a RAID Controller???)

Generally SBS 2011 is not supported by VMware (and as I remember it's not generally supported as a VM on most hypervisors other than Hyper-V), it's a strange statement but it looks like that, SBS 2011 may be very IOPS/disk intensive VM because of MS Exchange and SQL server on the same system.

best regards

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
joyjohnAuthor Commented:
Hi Dawid, thanks some of the info.

- RDP is fails, no Exchange and other services are available when it crashes
- Its not Windows 2008 R2 at the moment (OS Guest)
- VM tools is updated recently
- vnics - E1000
- power - balanced
- only one VM
- out of 32GB, 26GB for VM
- swapped and balooned = 0
- RAID 1 (2 x 300GB), yes BBWC

I will change guest OS to Win 2008 R2 - thought it was on Win 2008 R2, can I change the vnic?
also Windows 2008 R2 need to be loaded with Sp1.
I will uninstall and reinstall the vmtools once changed the guest OS etc. any further suggestions? thanks
Dawid FusekVirtualization Expert, Sr B&R, Storage SpecialistCommented:
ok joyjohn,

so vm crash almost totally but network... hmm, I saw such problems a few times in my career, if I recall it in my memory... hmm, but ok, yep, I think it was something with power management if it was

In my opinion do the following right now and give us a feedback:
- switch guest os to win 2008 r2 (and then uninstall vm tools, reboot, instal vm tools, reboot)
- change network card from E1000 to VMNET 3
- set the C-States in the HW server's BIOS to C3 (there are know problems with lower than C5 and hypervisors), it's really important step, best will be to disable all power management features for a test phase (so power management to max performance in the host BIOS and disable C-States and other power management options), I see a lot of times that only 1 power management option make a problem with ESXi host
- give us a SBS system logs, maybe it shows something little before crush...
- give us ESXi system logs (give You advice how to do that in my last post)
- create a new test (eval for example) vm on that ESXi server with installed MS Windows 2008 R2 OS here on that ESXi host and run it for some days, know it's may sounds strange but good to exclude the ESXi host itself because as I remember such symptomps sometimes ware also a problems with host itself (power management, firmware or some other hw problems, not sure that it's in your example, just want to exclude the host), will be best if You install SQL 2008 there too :P - it will be more occupied than win2k8r2 itself
- patch this SBS to SP1 if possible and install all updates, I know it's not so easy task for SBS so do other tasks first

joyjohnAuthor Commented:
when server is running OS guest keep showing Windows 7
I have changed to VMNET3
patched SBS SP1 etc.
made changes on power setting via iLO etc
I will see how it goes.
Dawid FusekVirtualization Expert, Sr B&R, Storage SpecialistCommented:
hi mate,

1. what You mean "when server is running OS guest keep showing Windows 7", shouldn't it be set to Windows 2008 R2?, do You have set it to MS Windows 7 (in Vm properties)??? can you give a screenshot (like my attachement, it's powered on VM win 2k12) ??

2. ok, keep us up to date about what happens with that VM during next week

joyjohnAuthor Commented:
Hi Dawid, thanks in VM properties I can see its windows 2008 R2
but if I go and check on summary on OS: it shows Windows 7
Dawid FusekVirtualization Expert, Sr B&R, Storage SpecialistCommented:
can You show me where is that "summary on OS" that shows Windows 7 ????

joyjohnAuthor Commented:
at the moment its stable, not crashed. I will let you know.
Dawid FusekVirtualization Expert, Sr B&R, Storage SpecialistCommented:
ok mate,

let's let it run little longer (VM) and then give us an update.

It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.