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Our institution has hundreds of Win-XP terminals. The users do their daily job using client-server type apps. (Desk-top apps, not web apps.)

In rare occasions, our database server starts behaving erratically, and in order to diminish server work-load, we ask users to stop using the app by telephone!

What are your solutions?

(By the way, our users don't use instant messaging. And they won't view our web-app group-ware while they are busy working.

And we have no access to the source-code of those client-server apps.

The solution should be independent of the app, amd preferably some OS hack or FOSS.)


Addendum : I checked our network and found that all the clients are WindowsXP-SP2 machines, and that, in XP-SP2, the Messenger service is disabled by default. (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/839018) Changing settings of hundreds of machines is unthinkable. So "net send " is out.

What are my options now?

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Use a domain policy to enable the Messenger service. –  MikeyB May 12 '11 at 15:52

7 Answers 7

net send * "This is a message."

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Thank you! I'll tset it this week. –  ulm Oct 19 '08 at 21:18

At my college the sysadmins have the ability to broadcast messages to all logged-in users in an alert box. I'm pretty sure this is the mesenger service (note: not MSN/Live).

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Thank you. Instant messaging is not activated in our environment, and I7m sure it will be frowned upon. –  ulm Oct 19 '08 at 21:20
    
"(note: not MSN/Live)" - I mean the built-in Windows Messenger service, NOT the IM client. It's what's linked to in your best answer. –  Ross Oct 20 '08 at 17:21

Beyond the obvious observation that fixing your infrastructure so that the database can support the number of users you have is the real solution, I think the "net send" approach is the fastest way to do this. If you have message pop-ups blocked, you might want to investigate setting up some instant messaging service (if allowed). It can have other advantages that will last beyond your immediate problem. If all of those fail, at least simplify your life by setting up a phone tree so that the number of calls you make is small and people get them quicker. Mailing lists (email) may also work, but delivery is asynchronous and I'm not sure how quickly you need to get the message out.

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Thank you for kind advice. "net send " looks promising. Our phone tree takes at least 30 minutes to reach the leafs. So it is reserved for real disaster like network trouble. E-Mail is not useful because most people read their mail less than once a day. –  ulm Oct 19 '08 at 21:18

How do your desktop apps react to their database session being killed?

I know it sounds extreme but if you have any apps that can disconnect gracefully without data loss, you could disconnect just those apps to reduce load.

But as other commenters have pointed out, you should really address the problem with your database server!

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Thank you for your suggestion. Our database app is a third party proprietary package and we do not have the budget to make them happen. All we have is Ultra VNC and telephones. So we want to send message to the users. –  ulm Oct 21 '08 at 21:56

I googled for "net send alternative" and I found this at the expert-exchange.com:

Hi,

theres quite a few application out there to use finding teh right one for you will obviously involve you needing to scheck them out but for what you are looking to do you could use

http://www.vitalsoundlab.com/

there is free software on here for network chat and it has system tray capability. You would be able to disable other users from editing etc by employing group policy or permssion out the executable

Hope that helps.

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Thank you for the suggestion. I'll check if it can be in our network. –  ulm Oct 24 '08 at 6:54

Most phone systems should have a broadcast functionality, if not by standard PA speaker, at least with recorded message hunt-and-replay.

Is this a single office or several? Thought about a sound system if it doesn't already exist? Mobile phone text messages could also be used if employees have them.

Otherwise, non-optional IM like Office Communications Server with Communicator deployed by policy to all desktops would be my suggestion, and it's usually a great productivity booster, especially if you use Outlook and share at least a few Word or Excel documents between users now and then.

If you can kill the connections, just "pull the plug" on the network segment or simply block the specific traffic of this application towards the server on a network level?

Just saw your "changing settings on all machines is out" - why is that? It's hard to manage a network without that kind of basic control - that would need to be fixed first in my opinion. At the lowest simplest level it's a list of client host names or IP addresses, a share the machines have access to hosting the scripts and tools like psexec, and a script or two looping through the machine list executing your configuration change. If it's a Windows shop, the next level is Active Directory and built-in group policies.

Also, is this application and database unsupported by the vendor? That seems like a way too big risk to have sitting around, have it replaced. This seems to be a non-technical problem in the end.

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I believe the msg command is available on Windows Vista and 7. I am not sure if it was originally included in Windows XP but it works for me on an XP Pro SP3 system where net send will not.

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