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Win7 and SBS 2008 network/share disconnections

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Win7 and SBS 2008 network/share disconnections

Postby blin » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:59 pm

I am experiencing a nasty problem that has frustrated me for several weeks now!

1. Windows Server 2008 SBS Premium Edition (not R2)
Network share: \\Server\DBShare
also mapped as J:\ on client computers
Share contains some Access 2002 ('access xp') back-end (BE) databases

2. Clients: diverse set of machines: XP, Vista, Win7, etc...
ALL have Access XP (2002) installed (runtime) and run a 13-year-old front end (FE) line of business application that has been under spasmodic development since 1997. It is mission critical and there is no budget to rewrite is since it is sprawling and has its hooks into every device, procedure, policy and activity we do.
Front-end is run locally, resides in users %appdata% path

Everything is gravy when running this LOB application on Vista or XP clients. Longest persistent database connection by a machine in the stock room was easily over 8 weeks.


Currently 8x NON-windows 7 devices access the system daily, remain connected 24 hours a days and never give disk or network errors.

ANY windows 7 device is guaranteed to give disk or network error messages, at some point - from 30 minutes to 15 hours into opening the front end and being left idle.

When I say ANY, I mean I have 4 test devices: a workstation, a mini-pc, a laptop and a netbook. This started out as an 'test upgrade' to Win7 on the workstation - but after this Show-stopping issue, it turned into a desperate troubleshooting jamboree, involving more systems and more trials because the solution just seemed around the corner.

NOTE: I was sent here from the MS Answers forums - first the access forum, then as they thought Win7 forum would be more appropriate to their networking section. They bounced me over to technet for more deep server expertise.

For non-access users, Access is like the canary in the coalmine when it comes to network connection problems. Even a slight network disruption causes it to complain about network errors and to require the database connection to be re-created, losing data and potentially corrupting this file-system database. Since our LOB application uses access, persistent connections are vitally important on our client machines... Without them, things start going bad fast - from regularly scheduled tasks in the application failing, to more serious database corruption.

I had everyone set up using j:\variousdatabases.mdb but read in access forums that this was a nono so I scripted a change of all mapped drives to UNC pathnames in the connection property of the linked tables. With this change, sometimes I just get an 'odd' Disk or network error, then am able to reconnect - but this disturbs me terribly because 1. it may be doing damage to the db, 2. It means I need to write error handling to trap this for over 300 forms, and even then I suspect there will be things I cannot trap and 3. It also SOMETIMES does not reconnect and I get repeated messages... or even an appcrash.

Now, a week later, I am ready to give up on computeres forever and go live under a bridge, since I am unable to solve this and have already invested so much time into it!

Here is what I think I have ruled out and why:

Not a network infrastructure problem.
I can unlug a minipc with vista on it (same exact hardware) and connect it to the ethernet port of one of the evil test win7 machines and it plugs away happily for over 24 hours. All machines are on the same 24 port switch. All nonwin7 machines work like a dream, even when moved to the port/cables used by the win7 machines.

Not a server NIC problem.
See above. Other non win7 devices all purring away without disconnect.

Not a server problem.
SBS2008 has been working *untouched* for the last 7 months. Only reason to look at it recently was to try solve this damn problem... No new installed software, not even automatic updates until after the problem was noticed. Since then I have updated everything I could find...
All non win7 clients are happy as can be, even after/despite the updates.

Not MS's dynamic scaling TCP stack or offloading on the SERVER.
EVERYTHING in the nic driver that could be offloaded (and was by default, without problems on other non-win7 clients) has been turned OFF. I have also disabled the chimney and all other Auto-Tuning features on the Server.
(FYI - all nonwin7 clients STILL happy, server shows no noticeable increase in processor usage)

Not MS's dynamic scaling TCP stack or offloading on the CLIENTS.
Done the same again on the clients - auto tuning off, offloading off wherever possible. Latest NIC drivers installed that give plenty of offloading options to disable.

Not Offline Files
These have been disabled on the server shares, on the client and in the group policy just to make a point.

Not the MiniPc/The Laptop/The Netbook/The Workstation
Seems unlikely that ALL 4 would not work due to hardware error AND inapproriate drivers, but I ran out of ideas - so I imaged the win7 MiniPC and put Vista back on. To my chagrin, the Vista OS on the same device works perfectly. Re-image to the Win7 OS and, you guessed it, same problem.

Not IPv6
Disabled on clients and server

Not installed on client/server

Not network traffic
Happens when I have all but 5 computers turned off and nobody in the office as well as in the middle of the day when users are 'using' and in the morning when they are 'abusing'.

Not time of day
Happens after 15 mins in the middle of the afternoon, or after 6 hours at 4:32am - does not coincide with error log events on server or client, does not coincide with DHCP renewals (which are 2 weeks anyway)

Not server autodisconnect
This is set to -1 in both server and client (I know it is not relevant on the client)
I also tried adding a keepconn regentry of ffffff (I know the reported max is 64k but it does not help me to have the connection drop after 18 hours.)
FYI - No effect with or without keepconn registry entries.

Not Power saving
4 machines, 4 different ranges of random stuff to stop turning off - from network cards to windows power schemes to simply disabling acpi. Problem continues

Not my version of Windows 7
Tried our company VLK Win7 Enterprise and my personal copy of win7 ultimate and the netbooks win7 home premium. SAME SAME SAME

Not my out of date drivers
Stock MS drivers on old machines that were not built for Win7 show me the same error
Laptop and Netbook (latter preinstalled by vendor) also give same problem

Its not that I am not using the drive\UNC.
I ran a separate form in access that just does a DIR() on the shared folder containing the database every 10 seconds and still, I eventually get the disk errors.

Its not that I am not querying the database and the connection is timing out
There is a Database lookup Every 2 minues in the FE to check for new data in a table

Its not a domain/roaming profile issue
I have tried logged in as domain user with roaming profile, admin user not on the domain, from PCs formally added to the domain and even from laptops not registered on the domain.

Its not System Restore
Turned off on the clients

Its not SMB signing
Turned this off in the Server Group policy and still same problems...

PLEASE HELP! I have run out of options to try!

Any ideas would be much much appreciated!

Thanks in advance for helping to make my new year better! & Happy holidays to those of you lucky enough not to be troubleshooting this!


PS: The following 2 suggestions are unfortunately not helpful in our situation...
1. Use XP mode (Virtual PC) since some of the machines we have do not have processor-based virtualization.
2. Don't use Win7 - While I already have lots of downgraded licences and believe this would be a great solution for m, personally, it is not viable in the long term as new equipment we buy (especially laptops) both comes with Win7 preinstalled and benefit substantially from Win7s new features, ect...
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Re: Win7 and SBS 2008 network/share disconnections

Postby blin » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:00 pm

FINALLY! It took nearly a month, and a late night visit from a white-hat hacker named 'Psycho' who made 2 hours of telephone calls to his anonymous network of experienced fortune500 developers/sysadmins to finally point to a solution to this issue.

After a lot more trial and error - the change that finally stabilized the network issues and kept our LOB database running smoothly was TURNING OFF NETBIOS AT THE SERVER. (ie: Network Connections->Local Area Connection->TCPIPv4->Advanced->WINS->Disable NetBIOS over TCP/IP

NETBios was also disabled on one of the WIN7 machines but this was not necessary as other Win7 machines with this enables also work flawlessly.

So far the only negative effect has been that our copier could not 'see' the server any more, and needed to have its internal addresses changed to refer to the server IP instead of machine name.
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