Server running again (for now)

I spent another late night in the server room last night, working on my
crippled server (see yesterday’s post), but I think I have resolved the
issue.

The problem has to be hardware related because a reinstall of a
previous working Ghost image was experiencing the same “hanging”
symptoms as before, but yet my server worked great in safe mode (no
surprise since most of the services are not running in safe
mode).  So, here is what I did to resolve my problem:

While in SM, I made a note of all the services with start up type set
to “Automatic”, and then disabled them all.  I noticed that most
of the services, not running, were using svchost.exe
–  a service host for non-service applications. During earlier
testing I had seen several instances of this executable running in the
task manager, and killing a few of the instances would sometimes
resolve the hanging issue (most of the time the system would become
unstable).  I wondered if svchost.exe was hung up trying to access a broken piece of hardware, and all other requests using the same executable were then deadlocked.

After rebooting into normal mode, I was able to install Windows 2003
SP1 and remaining updates from windows update (this would at least replace svchost.exe, if it happened to be corrupted). Finally, I enabled the
services that I had disabled earlier, leaving out those services that I
did not require (such as the sound system and print spooler
services).  I was going to enable all the services to see which
one caused the problem, and possibly pinpoint a hardware component
failure, but my server was behaving, and running faster, so I decided
not to toy with it.

I figured I should start backing up some of the more recent changes to my data in case my server failed catastrophically (I
usually keep a good back up, but it was out of date), so I started dumping files onto
DVD.  Midway through burning files my E drive failed. Fortunately
I was able to get the drive back with a cold reboot, and there was very little
data on it, so I was able to copy over everything to my D drive, and
continue burning everything to DVD.

Presently, everything seems to be working.  Windows update works
fine, so does RDP, and my E drive has not failed since I cleaned it out
(but I’m not using it).  I am tempted to experiment with svchost.exe
and the services list some more, to see which service causes the system
to hang, but I would like to think that the problem was related to the
secondary disk failure, and having look no further.  I am in need
of some more disk space on my server, so I plan to replace this disk
anyway. 

Hopefully I’ve seen the end of my problem for now, and can spend
tonight enjoying a glass of wine in front of the TV – not in the server
room.