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David BarmanFlag for United States of America

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Windows Server 2008 R2 periodic performance issue

I have a production server that periodically has an issue that the entire server runs EXTREMELY slow.  Usually the symptom starts by users complaining that the Exchange server (version 2010) is running slow because they receive messages at their desktop in Outlook that it is trying to communicate with the exchange server.  The exchange server itself continues to work, but the entire server is running slow.  When I attempt to look at the server I am unable to.  What I mean is, if I try a remote desktop session it won't connect.  If I try to physically look at the server, I connect do anything at the console.  I can see the mouse pointer move, but that is all.  The server is running so slowly that I cannot login to the server at the console or even see the desktop.  It is usually just a black desktop with the white mouse pointer.

So what I can do is perform a remote shutdown command from another computer on the network.  Once the command is successful and the server reboots then all is good.  To help alleviate this I am performing server reboots 3 times a week, which I shouldn't need to do.  

So I am looking for some advice on how to determine what is causing this condition to occur so it can be rectified.
Note: the server is very new.  It is a Xeon E5-2609 2.4 GHz, 64GB RAM, Windows Server 2008 R2.  The server runs Exchange 2010 SP3 and is also the company file and print server for about 20 users.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Monitor memory usage and cup usage over time. maybe some process has a memory leak. Does the server do swapping when its slow? Does the problem always appear after the same time of operation? Will it be slow suddenly or become slow over time? Any log entries in the event log?

Did you run a malware scan? Monitor the network traffic from and to the server when its slow and normal operation, any difference?
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The time between incidences is not consistent. The rebooting 3 times a week helps but the problem still occurs
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along the path andreas is taking you.
How many exchange users, how much memory does the system have.  If you have to reboot it three times a weak, and only exchange is on this system, I would guess that the issue might be related to it trying to process the double bounce queue (email to an unknown recipient on your system and can not be return to the sender as it two is unknown).
you can use perfmon to build a baseline data collection to see what is going on during these times.  Depending on what additional options you have, monitoring the server using SNMP, as well as using evntcmd to map an eventvwr event to an SNMPTRAP could help you identify what is going on.

Presumably you have enterprise class server/drives so it will not be an access to disk.
Often adding additional RAM memory should resolve this.
Archiving some of the users mail thus reducing the exchange store, might also help.

What else does this system do? Do you have an anti-virus/spam/etc. filter handling incoming messages before they enter the queue?
In addition, it seems like the problem started shortly after the server was put into production.
In this case, it would suggest that the HW does not match/meet the needs.

Do you have stats on how many inbound/outbound emails it handles? how many users are there on the system.
System SPec: Manufacturer, CPU, Memory, disks/disk size/drive setup.
raid1 os, raid6 or raid 10 data drives, 2xfour/six core cpus, 24GB of ram?etc.

was this server an upgrade to an existing setup, or this was the initial entry.
i.e. firm had email hosted elsewhere, and decided to bring it in-house?
if there is no other issue with server (hardware, cables, network card, switch, software related issues, malware)

- stopping all unnecessary services
- adding more memory
- using faster hdd/sdd
- upgrading to a faster cpu

will help...
The double bounce is a very good hint you should investigate this too. But you also should monitor RAM/CPU swapping on this machine to see if the problem is due to a memory leak or just to less RAM installed.

So how much RAM is installed, what kind of HDDs are you using, how big they are and how full?

If machine is just doing exchange without other tasks,like spam or anti virus handling, I think CPU is not an issue. If ther is mail AV and or SPAM handling too then it also could be CPU related.
What Exchange roles does the server have? All of them, or a few, try installing a second second and move the mailbox role to that and move the mailboxes over.
Prior to installing this machine, the same services were running on a far inferior machine (less ram, slower  and old cpu architecture, older hard drive architecture)

What is the best way to monitor memory swapping and cpu utilization? Is there a log that can be created that I can view after the incident takes place to see what caused the issue?
The ram shouldn't be an issue since we have 64gb and apparently server 2008 will only use 32gb. So I am maxed out on ram

Yes, the server has a spam filter on it, but it had the same filter on our old server which was a far inferior computer.
at least you can open task manager and see what app is running and how much cpu/memory uses at any time...
Doesn't perfmon have to be running when the "slowness" incident occurs?  Do I have perfmon running continuously?
Once the slowness occurs I can't execute anything on the server.  The only thing I can do is "remote" reboot it from another computer using the shutdown /m command.
I can't open task manager because I can't login to the machine or navigate the desktop, the system is running to slowly.  That is the basis for my question.

Is there a way to have some diagnostics running that will start log entries if the cpu/ram/hard disk is being over utilized?  That way after the reboot I can login to the server and look at the logs and see when and why the slowness started and narrow down what is causing this to occur.
open performance monitor on your pc and from there connect to server :)
If a much waeker computer was performing better with the same number of mailboxes and software running then its either a problem with the drivers/hardware or the software installation of the new machine is flubbed.

for monitoring let the software run and the screen on without screensaver/lock so you might see whats going on in the perfmon/taskmanager.

If it's hanging weekly might be backup software causing issues.

1) Check for Backup Software (Do you have any backup software who is running weekly , disable backup software check for issues
2) Check for Active Directory Replication make sure active directory is functionnanign correctly
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David Barman
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No solution found other than periodic server reboots.