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Faulty RAM sparked a reborn for SBS@home

, posted: 20-Jan-2008 11:43

On the third week of 2008 (14-18 January 2008), my once honky-dory SBS 2003 R2 was running happily and quietly on our dresser drawer, doing its job with sorting out incoming and outgoging emails without worries. However during this particular week, Mohican has been running quite erratically and BSoD few times during the week. It's not just a "Oops! Did I do that?" of BSoD and restart, it is a "BOOM! SURPRISE!" BSoD and restart. On Friday morning, as I checked on it remotely through LogMeIn from work to check the event log and noticed that it has more red X than ever and which is causing quite a few concern. I had to act fast as from the feel of it, it seems like Mohican hasn't got much left before it self implode. A backup strategy was formulated and it's a good thing that we don't have a huge number of users. The general idea was: * do a last sync between all mobile devices Exchange via Exchange ActiveSync. * do an OST/PST archive backups for all users. * run memory diagnostic test to find if any of the RAM was faulty (suspected it is the hardware fault). * reinstall SBS2003R2 from fresh. * major Windows update. * configure SBS2003R2 and re-enter all settings to what it was before. * test out a dummy account to see if Exchange is working as expected (send and receive). * test out mobile synching (OWA, OMA, Exchange ActiveSync). * populate the user accounts and settings. * restore archived PSTs back to their rightful mailboxes. * reconfigure each Outlook to ensure it works fine. * repartner each mobile devices with Exchange. * testing out backup. * monitor the new installation over the next 24-hours. * fix any possible errors. Process To make sure that all records on the mobile devices are synced one last time before all mailboxes be backed up. Luckily the Exchange ActiveSync (or largely the whole Exchange) is working fine. Once the last sync was completed, I proceed on archiving mailboxes to PST. I set the archive setting to one day into the future so it will archive all Outlook items. Few things aren't archived like, Contacts and future/recurrence Calendar items. For those items, I had to manually copy them over to the archive PST. With the calendar items, I change the view to "Active Appointments" and change the view to no filter (save as new view - All Appointments). With all appointments on display, I do CTRL-A (select all) and just copy them over to archive PST. Now that I have all mailboxes archived, I went out to check out the SBS itself to see what's causing all the fault. I have reinstalled it twice as during the post-installation, the system exhibit random crashes. First it was few fault with certain .DLL and nothing that can pinpoint a pattern of what had caused the BSoD. Later, as after searching through the internet to find any possible link to event ID from the event logs. In short, I stumbled on to Microsoft's website on using a memory diagnostic program to check the memory integrity. So downloaded the ISO and burnt onto a blank CD-RW (note to Microsoft: time to build a bootable USB version as well). While during the memory test, it definitely showed that either one of the pair memory was at fault, or possible both (which was my worst nightmare). Just to be sure which memory was at fault, I took one out and test, then swap and test and sure enough, the guilty part was found - A-Data 1GB DDR333 CL2.5. When I took it out from the system and everything seems to be working away well. Did the major Windows update, and when that completed, I proceed on to SBS installation. Configure SBS2003R2 and re-enter all settings. Created a test user account and tried out the system configuration for OWA, OMA and Exchange ActiveSync. The test was acceptable and proceed on populating user accounts. Configure an Outlook with multiple profiles to use as a medium to repopulate the archived PST back onto the Exchange mailboxes. Then did the standard configuration on all Outlooks to make sure the settings are fine and seeing the rightful mailbox for each user. Synchronised all mobiles with Exchange again. Then went on to work on post-installation on the SBS, configured and testing out the backup. Though during this stage, I found that the backup did not complete and had error in regards to Exchange Public folder EDB has bad checksum. Took me a while to find a solution and in the end a ESEUTIL with /MF, and /D and /P to determine multiple investigation stage and fixes. Long story short, the EDBs are compacted, defragged and repaired. I also had other few errors and managed to find solution to workaround problem and fixed it. But I don't understand where all these errors come from but I have got them tamed and all working fine now (according to the event logs). Recommendation When I first had SBS2003R2 installed, it was never configured correctly, but strangely, it was working alright for a whole year. I have been putting off reinstalling it as I was looking for an easier way to clone/export settings without too much reconfiguration. I had a look at other commercial DIY solution like SBS Migration but I cannot justify the cost of just getting it and do a simple reinstall. From this lesson, luckily with just a small group of users, it isn't too hard make quick and simple mailbox archive PSTs. I have made a few mental notes for next rebuild (should it require one), this practise gave me a good general idea on what steps to take and how better to carry out. I do hope that I may able to just get a petite system with sufficient hard drive space for Exchange operation, running quietly in a corner. And have a WHS to handle all other everyday in-home stuff, like media sharing, central file storage, central backup hub.





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