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HP MediaSmart EX475 - Boots but access is so slow that RDP/Console time out RRS feed

  • Question

  • My server (HP EX475 running original Windows Server 2003-based WHS) was working normally for years until its performance started to slow over the last few weeks.  This weekend it slowed so suddenly and dramatically that it is practically unusable.

    On the front of the box the health indicator is blinking blue (which of course is not explained in any of the light indicator tables provided by HP) but through forums I've learned it means the HP health monitoring service isn't running.  The lights on the 4 drive bays flash just one time when the server is booted but don't light up again (even though the last time I booted the server was over 24 hrs ago).  The lights on the drive bays should be lit in normal operation.

    I cannot RDP into the box (reports that the server is not found, or times out within seconds if I do manage to get a connection).  WHS Console app behaves similarly.

    I *am* able to get connected to file shares on the server via Windows Explorer or cmd from a client PC, but access is extremely slow and I'm continuously getting errors that the "specified network can no longer be found" and/or "no such device exists" until I get lucky enough for the client to reconnect so I can continue.  I'm able to copy small files off of the server but anything more than a few mb times out and can't complete the copy.

    Meanwhile, error notifications from WHS Connector are popping up.  These include:

    • "disk volumes xyz is failing"
    • "backup service is not running"
    • "driver extender migrator service is not running"
    • "eval copy of WHS will expire in 0 days (this is retail box from HP that's never had eval/beta software on it) so this is clearly bogus
    • "Update was completed.  Please update the server's domain name..."?

    So clearly the machine's not healthy.

    I need some high level triage feedback on where to start.  Things I am wondering include:

    • What tools should be installing on my Win7 Ultimate client to help diagnose the state of this Win Server 2003-based WHS box? Without RDP/Console I'm blind as to what events are being captured in the event log, which services that should be running aren't, chkisk status of the individual drives, etc.
    • One of the messages provided by WHS is pretty explicit about the fact that a drive that's failing.

             a) Does the fact that the error message did not say it's the primary volume mean the failing drive is a data drive?

             b) Would a failing data drive typically cause all of these system services to fail, slow performance to a crawl, prevent RDP access etc?  If not, does that mean

                 I should also/instead be looking for issues with my system drive?  I would think that if the system drive is healthy the system might operate OK bit provide degraded

                 access to the data on the affected drive - that's not what I'm seeing.

             c)  How do I isolate which data drive is causing the problem?  The couple of times over the last 24 hours when I got a popup warning me a drive is failing, I didn't

                  write down the volume name.  Assuming I can document it the next time I see it, how do I translate that name to an understanding of which drive bay that's in

                  within the WHS drive enclosure?

             d) If it's my system drive that's failing is there a way to replace that without losing the contents of my 3 data drives?

    Thanks,

    Doug

     

     

     

     

    Monday, October 31, 2011 1:34 AM

Answers

  • Your description makes me think that a drive is failing,  probably the system drive, but it's going to be difficult to tell without access to the server console. Before you proceed, though, have you contacted HP technical support? Have you considered shutting down your server, removing drives one by one, and running chkdsk /r on them using some other computer?

    As for recovering from the failure, if your issue is a system drive failure, then yes, you can replace it using the server recovery media supplied by HP with your server. Regarding your data, this FAQ details what data is at risk when a drive fails. If your issue is something other than a drive failure, your options are very limited; any other hardware failure effectively means that your server is dead at this point (HP probably doesn't have a large store of spares any more), and given that it's a headless machine, you can't watch the boot sequence or look for errors while logged in to the desktop. If it is something other than drive failure, you should read over this FAQ, which will help you recover data from the drives in your server.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, October 31, 2011 10:53 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Your description makes me think that a drive is failing,  probably the system drive, but it's going to be difficult to tell without access to the server console. Before you proceed, though, have you contacted HP technical support? Have you considered shutting down your server, removing drives one by one, and running chkdsk /r on them using some other computer?

    As for recovering from the failure, if your issue is a system drive failure, then yes, you can replace it using the server recovery media supplied by HP with your server. Regarding your data, this FAQ details what data is at risk when a drive fails. If your issue is something other than a drive failure, your options are very limited; any other hardware failure effectively means that your server is dead at this point (HP probably doesn't have a large store of spares any more), and given that it's a headless machine, you can't watch the boot sequence or look for errors while logged in to the desktop. If it is something other than drive failure, you should read over this FAQ, which will help you recover data from the drives in your server.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, October 31, 2011 10:53 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for the answer Ken.

    Sorry it took so long before I remembered to mark this as answered so you get your recognition points.

    It turns out that two of the data drives in my WHS came down with similar problems at the same time.  Thankfully the drives were not completely inoperable, but on both disks there were some files that could no longer be read.

    I took your guidance and removed each from the server one by one and placed them in an external hard disk enclosure connected to a Windows 7 PC.  I was able to recover nearly everything, with a fair amount of difficulty. 

    The fact that I had DE duplication enabled for the photo and video shares helped. When I wasn't able to read a given file from one disk, I almost always found a readable version of the same file on one of the other disks.  In the end I think I only lost about 10 photos out of 26000, 1 home video (out of several hundred), and a handful of ripped CD tracks (which can easily be re-ripped).  I simply abandoned the machine backups since the PCs themselves are all healthy and I can just make new ones.

    The hardest parts of the recovery process were:

    1. The unhealty drives would let me read some files and then just stop responding.  The only way to get them to respond again was to turn off the power to the eSATA enclosure and turn it back on and then try again.  Some troublesome files eventually transferred after numerous tries.  Others just never succeeded.  RoboCopy helped, at least when I found a whole branch of a directory tree that would read without seizing up the hard drive.  Using RoboCopy with multiple retries and logging enabled I let a transfer run and go back later to give them special attention to files that never copied successfully even after many retries.
    2. Splicing together the good copies of files from similar directory structures on several hard disks was a drag.  I used a graphical file system compare / synchronization tool called BeyondCompare to help me figure out which files I'd already successfully recovered and which were unique.  That way I could gradually fill in the gaps in my file structure as I recovered files from each successive WHS disk.
    3. The third difficuly was self-inflicted.  I decided I didn't trust my existing WHS server chassis anymore, so I bought a new Seagate NAS (that runs a Linux variant) to store my recovered files (Frys didn't carry WHS and I was eager to get on with the recovery process).  When I copied my recovered files from the WHS drives to the new NAS realized the new NAS didn't support Alternate Data Streams as NTFS does. I was still able to copy the recovered files to the new NAS (sans ADS data) and as far as I can tell there have been no negative side effects (e.g., jpg photos still have metadata details like camera, date taken, and they render just fine) but I'm still waiting to find some unintended issues that may be lurking there.

    Doug

    Saturday, January 21, 2012 3:02 AM