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Network Nightmare

Last response: in Networking
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January 11, 2005 9:43:02 PM

Background:

Our network at work has been built over the years to accommodate our needs at the very moment we are adding on. Unfortunately, there has been very little, if any, planning involved. We deal mainly with AutoCAD files, some as large as 10M.

Setup:
I will do my best to explain what we have now. If I have not supplied enough information, just ask, and I will be able to get it.

The www comes into our office and hits a router. This router connects to print server and to our file server. The file server is a P4 based machine running Windows 2000 Server. This connects to our “main” hub, which connects directly to 9 workstations, in addition to “Jaret’s” hub and a linksys router. This router has 2 workstations connected to it. Jaret’s hub has 6 workstations, and yet another router connected to it. This final router connects to 2 workstations and a printer.

The workstations vary in vintage from P3 1GHz machines to AMD 3500+. The OSes in use include XP Home(2), Win 2000 Pro(2), Win 98(3) and the rest Win XP Pro.

My Problem:
Occuring seemingly randomly, I am “disconnected” from the file server. When this occurs, my machines locks up for approximately one minute (where I am unable to do anything, the desktop icons disappear, etc) and then my machine operates normally, however, I am disconnected from the file server. Some time later, ~5 minutes, I am reconnected to the server. I do not get the “Local Area Connection – Network Cable Unplugged” error message.

Other people in my office experience the same or similar problems.

My Request:

Help me fix this most annoying problem. Working under pressure to meet a deadline and finding out you can’t open a drawing for the next 5 mins is unbelievably aggravating. Please ask all the questions you might have. Also feel free to give advice on what we should do now to save money in the future to keep our office efficient and running smoothly. Do we need to bring a “professional” network IT guy. Or is this stuff we should be able to handle ourselves (with your help!)?

Anyways, thanks a ton for reading through this.


Stephan


More Technical Information:
My Computer:
OS Name Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Version 5.1.2600 Service Pack 2 Build 2600
OS Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation
System Name STEPHAN
System Manufacturer Gateway
System Model E-4650
System Type X86-based PC
Processor x86 Family 15 Model 2 Stepping 4 GenuineIntel ~2193 Mhz
BIOS Version/Date Intel Corp. MV85010A.15A.0041.P05.0202261432, 2/26/2002
SMBIOS Version 2.3
Windows Directory C:\WINNT
System Directory C:\WINNT\system32
Boot Device \Device\HarddiskVolume1
Locale United States
Hardware Abstraction Layer Version = "5.1.2600.2180 (xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)"
User Name STEPHAN\Owner
Time Zone Central Standard Time
Total Physical Memory 512.00 MB
Available Physical Memory 250.82 MB
Total Virtual Memory 2.00 GB
Available Virtual Memory 1.93 GB
Page File Space 1.22 GB

The File Server:
Item Value
OS Name Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
Version 5.0.2195 Service Pack 4 Build 2195
OS Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation
System Name SERVER
System Manufacturer Dell Computer Corporation
System Model PowerEdge 600SC
System Type X86-based PC
Processor x86 Family 15 Model 2 Stepping 7 GenuineIntel ~2394 Mhz
BIOS Version Phoenix ROM BIOS PLUS Version 1.10 A05
Windows Directory D:\WINNT
System Directory D:\WINNT\system32
Boot Device \Device\Harddisk0\Partition1
Locale United States
User Name SERVER\Administrator
Time Zone Central Standard Time
Total Physical Memory 261,620 KB
Available Physical Memory 56,836 KB
Total Virtual Memory 894,624 KB
Available Virtual Memory 539,864 KB
Page File Space 633,004 KB

More about : network nightmare

January 12, 2005 7:24:36 AM

Are you truely using Hubs in your network? If you are put those things in a trash can asap and get some switches in there. That will speed up your network like crazy and remove all the data collisions you are getting. Your disconnects might be due to them.

Do you have an Active Directory Domain setup? Is your file serv also a Domain controller for the network?

Are all the routers you speak of little home routers with the integrated 4 port switches? And you are just using the switch parts of them? Or are you using them to break your network into different subnets or something?

Does the server have any errors in it's Event Viewer relating to your disconnects or something at the same time as a disconnect? Mark down a time when you get a disconnect and see if there is an error event in the servers Event Viewer at the same time.

Are you and all the other people who are getting disconnects plugged into the same network device? Such as, are only people on Jaret's hub getting this problem? If so just swap out that device.

<A HREF="http://www.folken.net/myrig.htm" target="_new">My precious...</A>
January 12, 2005 1:41:10 PM

Are we using Hubs? Yes.

Active Directory Domain? No.

The routers are just the little home use routers for switching purposes.

Browsing the File Servers Event Viewer I did not see anything noted when I disconnect. Looking through the Event Viewer on my computer, I get ~15 Warnings per day, the majority of which are "The Redirector Failed to Determine the Connection Type" and some "TCP/IP has reached the security limit imposed on the number of concurrent (incomplete) TCP connect attempts."

Everyone on Jaret's Hub has the same problem as I do, just not as frequently (it seems); however, people throughout our office have various, similar issues with disconnection with the server.

Upgrading to switches:
Our office has to main work centers ... the front and the back, seperated 75' physically. Including all possible future expansion, we may need up to ~24 connections in the back and 16 in the front. (1) Can we put a 24 port switch next to the file server and attach the the 16 porter in series like we do with the hubs etc? (2) Do we need to upgrade the wiring; the specs for the first switch I looked at on NewEgg indicate Cat5 cabling (which we are currently using). (3) As previously stated, the file server is currently running Windows 2000 Server. Does each workstation require a software license? (4) Do all the various OSes used by the various vintages of machines have an effect on our networks performance?

Thanks for your previous reply Folken.

Everyone have a good day.

Stephan
Related resources
January 12, 2005 4:38:23 PM

I think whether it solves your disconnect problem or not you are going to want to upgrade to switches. It will be a dramatic speed increase.
1. Just get a 24port switch for each of your main work centers. Any switch that big is going to be auto sensing so just connect them with a standard striaght through cable between any 2 ports. If you need to you can definatly just get one 24porter as a main switch and series a bunch of smaller switches off of it for each location, that won't impact speed too much.
2. You will not have to upgrade any wireing.
3. You would run into licence problems if you had a Domain setup. You won't run into any of that with just a file server.
4. The different OSs will not have different effects on over all network speed. Their effect on the network will be determined by what protocols they are using. If you have IPX installed on any computers that will be slowing down the overall network a little. IPX is sort of like appletalk, it works by constantly broadcasting over the network to let every other computer see it.

For your 24port switch(s) I HIGHLY recommend getting a managed switch. They cost a little more but it is worth it in the long run. Cisco makes the best network equipment around, period. But it costs WAY to much. The next best are HP Procurve switches. They are definatly on par with Cisco and come at a very reasonable price. A 24port 10/100 Cisco (if they even make it anymore, everything is gagabit now) will likely run upwards of $1000. An equivilent HP Procurve will be around $500. If that is still more than you are willing to shell out for a switch the next best would probably be a Netgear managed switch. Their home user stuff is garbage but their higher end stuff is actually quite good. A 24port managed Netgear will probably cost around $200-$300. There are lots of 24port switches that cost far less than those but they arn't going to perform nearly as well and probably not last as long.

<A HREF="http://www.folken.net/myrig.htm" target="_new">My precious...</A>
January 14, 2005 2:03:30 PM

Upgrade the hubs to switches. At this point you can use an unmanaged switch (standard 24 port Linksys) to do the job. They'll be significantly cheaper and easier to manage than a managed switch. (Managed meaning you can set the port speed to 10/100 Full/Half Duplex/Auto Sensing or Off).

You can daisy chain the switches together. You'll want to limit how often you do this. I wouldn't recommend chaining two full 24 ports together. I would say run a straight connection back to the Switch the server hooks into.

You can run UTP Cat5/6 cabling 100m or ~290 feet, so having a connection running back won't be a problem for you.

Remove as many of the small home hubs/routers as you can. You might want to consider having a professional company come in to run the cabling for you, unless you want to it yourself. Every connection should have a direct connection to a switch that is directly connected to another switch that connects to the server.

You can use an 8 port network switch (a higher end switch deisgned for company networks) that is just used to give a connection to the other switches which then feed your computers.
Ex: PC connects to a SwitchA. SwitchA connects back to smaller SwitchB which feeds directly to the Servers.

I come from a heavy Autocad/Microstation network supporting over 600 users. This is my speciality here.

www.ssoe.com


Riser
January 14, 2005 8:21:23 PM

Did you set up your Server with enough client access licence? If you only setup with 5 licence it will only allow 5 client connection.
!