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Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: ‎02-08-2007

Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

OK. Problem NOT solved. Almost pulled my teeth out when the computer "Atticserver" froze again! I will give more detail on the problem and what I have done to try and fix it. First I will list the specs of the machine (Custom built by me in 2001):
Intel Celeron 1.3Ghz (Soltek SL-65EP-T)
512 Mb SDRAM (Crucial)
160Gb HDD
120Gb HDD
120Gb HDD
Windows XP Pro SP2 (Now currently only with SP1)
The problem started a few months ago and I have been living with it since. The computers main use is to serve all of the media to the network. It also acts as a print server and a testing web server running Apache2.
The machine randomly freezes ahen I am accessing files over the network from ANY of the other machines. It is not just large files as I mentioned earlier. It has done it with images also. It is not specific to Windows file sharing as it has done it while accessing files through both web and FTP also. It is however specific to networking as I am able to copy masive amounts of stuff between the local disks on the machine without issue. In my head this has ruled out hard disk problems.
I have repartitioned and reformatted all of the disks and reinstalled XP several times and still got the problem even before installing any other software.
Maybe I am wrong but I view the fact that Windows reinstalls without issue as a sign that the motherboard and processor is ok.
I have repositioned the disks in the machine and installed a new fan to ensure the are kept cool as I thought this was the problem as mentioned in an earlier post.
I have cleaned out the entire machine including processor heatsink and checked all connections as I do periodically with both my servers anyway.
I have tried different memory.
I have tried a different network card in a different PCI slot.
I have installed a brand new 400Watt power supply replacing the old 300Watt one (This I also do periodically with my servers).
None of the above have solved the problem.
I wouldn't mind spending the money to replece any parts including motherboard and processor. The computer has been running 24/7 for about 5 years apart from the routine cleanout so it has served me well. The problem is that I do not want to spend money on parts unless I can be sure that the problem will be solved.
Most recently I have installed XP without Service pack 2 as I got it in my head that the problem started when I had installed SP2 but this did not solve the problem!
Please please help, Thanks.
9 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

Frustrating.
How often does the fault occur and can you trigger it?
I reckon on a hardware fault. Power supplies just tend to shut the system down *,  you have ruled out the memory by swapping it. And repositioning the disks providing a different disk was used for the OS, could rule them out.
* Never assume that a new part is not faulty.
So I am left thinking processor or motherboard.
I see that Celeron 1.3Ghz processors can be had on ebay for £7.50 to £12.50 inc postage. That may be a good next point of attack.
But I would be concerned by the capacitors drying out on a 5year old motherboard that has not been run in the coolest conditions.
This Flicker page shows what dead capacitors look like.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathanclark/347115201/in/set-72157594461869878/
As he says the top should be flat, if its ballooning then there is an issue.
I another idea that is unhelpful as you are running XP, is that /var/log/messages/ on unix systems often will give pointers towards failing hardware.

Chilly
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,576
Thanks: 3
Registered: ‎13-04-2007

Re: Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

You need to try and isolate the problem.
Does it only freeze when files are copied from 1 disk or from them all? Drop down to one disk and see if it still happens
What partiion sizes have you got.
Run check disk on all the drives.
Anything in event viewer?
Did you load it with xp +sp1 as bare xp without sp1 has a problem with large hd's
I would put some monitoring software on it to see if anything is getting hot memory usage etc.

What happens when it freezes do you get disk errors and lost clusters?
When it freezes can you reach it from any other pc  ie ping it connect remotely with event viewer
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: ‎02-08-2007

Re: Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

It freezes randomly when copying from any of the disks (but only over the network and not locally between the disks).
Largest partition 120Gb, smallest 10Gb
All drives have been repartitioned and formatted one at a time.
Have tried with just one disk.
Nothing in event viewer relating to the freezing.
Xp has been loaded bare, with sp1, with sp2 and now with sp3. same result. With XP bare I do loose a bit off the 160Gb drive.
Cannot reach from any other computers when it freezes. It is only ever used remotely. I have confirmed that when it becomes unreachable it has completely frozen as I have checked it locally. Requires power cycling every time.
I cannot see how anything is getting too hot or there is a problem with memory usage. The computer does very little. It has served the same purpose with the same hardware in the same place for years. It just gets a peridoic blast with the air duster to make sure fans and heat sinks are nice and clear. Although recently it had a new fan installed blasting the hard disks to try and fix this problem.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: ‎02-08-2007

Re: Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

Another point to note is that this computer quite happily records continously from my IP camera without freezing. Only when I watch the recorded files on another computer would it freeze (but only sometimes, randomly)
Rich
Grafter
Posts: 184
Registered: ‎30-07-2007

Re: Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

I notice that the spec for your motherboard does not list on-board LAN.
Have you tried a replacement network card?
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: ‎02-08-2007

Re: Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

Quote from: Sean
I have tried a different network card in a different PCI slot.

I am currently in the process of copying everything off this machine using available space on other computers and blank DVDs. With the random freezing as I am doing this it may take until tomorrow! I know I should have upgraded to gigabit LAN a long time ago!
I am then going to try a FreeNAS install as that is basically all this computer does anyway. Have played with FreeNAS before and it is absolutely fantastic.
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

Perhaps with FreeNAS only the effected service with freeze, and /var/log/messgaes with tell you what is failing.
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,439
Thanks: 728
Fixes: 12
Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

Sean
Have you thought about installing linux on it and then setting up XP in a vm?
At least that way you will know if it is hardware or software. Software and only the VM freezes, hardware and the whole system hangs.
I know its a long winded approach but it might be far more conclusive. I would assume the file shares would need to be setup in samba, shared with the virtual OS which then shares via the network virtually.
If its been running for 5 years, then the chances are it is hardware. Seems to me like you might have a PCI problem. If thats the case, throw in another mobo and you'll probably be sorted Wink
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: ‎02-08-2007

Re: Long term ongoing problem, Please help!!

That probably would work but my plan to install FreeNAS will give me the answer much quicker and easier. If the problem does not exist with FreeNAS than I will just keep it installed. If it does then new motherboard+processor. I really don't trust Windows anymore compared to Linux for stability and not just because of this.