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Please laern from my mistakes.

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

Please laern from my mistakes.

Yesterday I took one of my servers ("Atticserver" http://www.seanbranagh.ie/computing ) down from the attic to investigate an ongoing problem. The server would randomly freeze and need power cycled when I tried to access large files or copy anything to/from the mapped drives on it. I took it down and cleaned it out with an air duster and then it would not post. This I have posted about in another thread after thinking that the motherboard was gone. It started again after taking the memory out and reinserting it.
This still left me with the original problem of the computer freezing randomly. I have just spent all day trying everything to resolve this. I tried a different network card, reinstalling XP and then Win2K but still the problem persisted. It was only when I put my hand down to lift the computer (case open) and throw it out the window that I found the real problem. I had stupidly installed three hard disks directly on top of eachother with no fan at the front of the machine. They were piping hot! The problem was then so obvious and I was kicking myself.
As I have lots of space in the case I was able to move the bottom disk down and the top disk up creating a large gap between all of them. I also installed a fan on the front of the case blowing air through the disks. To test this I am copying several hundred Gb of stuff both between disks in this computer and between this computer and 2 others on the network. This has been going for over an hour now without issue. I am very confident and happy that I have at last solved the problem!
4 REPLIES
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Registered: ‎14-04-2007

Re: Please laern from my mistakes.

Hard drives are often the poor relation in the quest for cooling. The prime target naturally being the CPU but other components need cooling such as the Motherboard, Graphics Card and Ram. The Hard Drives usually are forgotten and left to take care of themselves.
Purpose built servers are usually different in that they have a heat pipe arrangement that channels cooling air in past the drives, across all heat generating components and out of the back.

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

Re: Please laern from my mistakes.

Yes, I know I won't make the mistake again. I am very happy though that I have solved this problem. It was not the first time I had tried a reinstall to solve it!
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: ‎02-08-2007

Re: Please laern from my mistakes.

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
512 Mb SDRAM (Crucial)
160Gb HDD
120Gb HDD
120Gb HDD
Windows XP Pro SP2
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.
I would appreciate any ideas/help on this one, Sean.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: ‎02-08-2007

Re: Please laern from my mistakes.

I have been wrecking my brain and I THINK this problem first started just after I first installed service pack 1 and 2 which was only a few months ago. If it is the case that some sort of bug is causing the problem then it would be easily sorted by reinstalling without the service packs.
This in itself would cause a problem as I would loose 40Gb on the 160Gb drive that I gained when I installed the service packs due to pre service pack XP only being able to see 120Gb.
I don't mind running without service packs. There is no web browsing done on this maching and it was fine before for years.
I will try that when I get time.