Server 2003 problems. Need advice quick!

By Vigilante
Jul 5, 2006
  1. Hi, got a funky problem here, well, more then 1 problem.

    We built a server, nothing special, just a MSI K8N Neo V2.0, Sempron 2400+ 64bit. 1gb RAM.
    Windows server 2003 SBS.

    Originally built with Windows RAID on 2 IDE WD 120gb HDDs.

    Windows is set to be a DC because the license requires it. But it is not really running AS that. In other words, it is set as DC, but just acting as a stand alone. Because the clients are XP Home and can't connect to AD anyway.

    So it was working fine until we went out to do maintenance one day. Installed a dialup modem, checked the software. But then when he did Windows updates, probably just critical updates, the system crashed in a BIG way. Just died, can't boot, mirror couldn't help at all, both HDDs seemed inaccesable. We took the server back to the shop and had to do some intense data recovery because Dynamic Disks are hard to gain access to with recovery tools.
    In the end we were able to get data, but had to completely reload the OS. We did not make a mirror again. The 2nd HDD seems troublesome, but always pasts every test and benchmark and burn-in we throw at it. Yet when it's plugged into the system, it seems to cause issues, and when we tried to RAID it again, it screwed up. Very weird. At this point this is not my consern, because I am about to relaod the system again for the 3rd time with this HDD as the primary drive, because their data is on the other drive.

    There are two main issues, that was just some background.

    1) There is a Seagate Travan 40 tape drive we got for backup. But Windows will NOT see it. The BIOS sees it, but Windows won't. The TapeWare does not see it either, or device manager, etc...
    We already RMA'd the tape drive, twice. This current drive was tested in a regular XP machine and worked fine, but no good in 2003.
    Furthermore, boot times seem to jump 1 or 2 minutes when the tape is in there. And even more, we have built another server for another client of ours with nearly the same hardware, same mobo, tape drive, windows, and it works fine.
    Cannot figure out why Windows won't load the tape drive, or why it increases boot time.

    2) Boot time in general is VERY slow. As high as 12 minutes to get to ctrl-alt-del login screen. Most of the wait is when it says "preparing network connections..." and "rebuilding active directory indices". But mainly network connections, can take 2 to 5 minutes.

    For startup times, I've been reviewing error logs and not finding a whole lot, at least, I can't tell if the errors are related anyway. But I disabled ALL 3rd party services and some startups. Even disabled the modem and NIC. Changed to all dynamic DNS and IP stuff. And now boot time is between 4 and 5 minutes, most still spent on network connections. I've been researching that error for some time on google and reading umpteen arcticles and forums but nothing seems to do the trick, just guesses.

    So then, my main questions. What is up with the tape drive? Something special you have to set in Server 2003 to enable a tape drive?
    And also what is up with preparing network connections? How can I troubleshoot why that takes so dang long to go through? And is it possible for the IDE hard drive to be bad, and yet still pass all testing?

    Oh and one more big thing. We thought, due to the HDD problems and long boot times and tape issue, that we had an IDE controller problem. So we bought an identical mobo and swapped them to see if the old one was faulty, but there was no change at all. So it is apparently not the mobo.

    Any QUICK help would be much appreciated, because we have to get this server back today! I'll let you all know how it goes after the reload.
  2. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    lol, not quick enough!!

    In any case, just to close this. Despite having reloaded this server twice already. When I switched HDDs and reloaded again, with the tape drive already hooked up, it simply went through good and we haven't had problems since. Even after re-creating the RAID again.

    I really don't get it. But then again, PCs HAVE been likened to women....
  3. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    you might consider data replication in addition to your tape backup.
    see this topic
    having multiple copies is always better than one copy, all-or-nothing :)
    {you do make multiple tapes don't you? nothing worse than spining tape during a recovery only to find a permanent i/o err}
  4. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    Actually I despise tapes, and I think they should die. But this company really wanted them.

    I personally would run a RAID five with hot-swappable, removable, drives for backup. That is, a RAID 5 running the thing, which is already covered for disk crashes. But on top have additional hot-swap drives to rotate. You can get huge disk size and costs WAY less then slow tapes. IMHO.
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    be carefull.
    a:- I would limit the raid-5 HDs to 120gb to avoid the >137gb problems.
    b:- hotswap is not always a good alternative to backups. it is still possible to
    clobber the image such that the image can not be used for recovery.

    recommend review pro/con of raid-x implementations
  6. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    MUST have proper backup

    No business would be considered for insurance purposes to be making adequate precautions against data loss if they did not have proper backup facilities. It matters little what sort of backups are taken, but for insurance purposes, secure, tested, off-site backup is a minimum requirement.

    What should be remembered is you are not just protecting against simple crashes or hardware failure, you are also protecting against theft of the server, fire, flood etc., not to mention all manners of malicious attacks, both external and internal. You also need to be able to go back to some specific period before your particular catastrophy happened, where catastrophy includes such things as data corruption that is not obvious until the month-end run, or simple user error !!

    I occasionally get to work in the morning and it's 'the accounts people have put the wrong date in the ledger transfer, can you put them back to yesterday?'

    Ho, hum, easy!!
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