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We often RDP into our servers. Sometimes if we end the RDP session via Start, Shutdown, Log-off, the server restarts.
It seems to happen when the server is waiting for a report due to a patch pushed out via WSUS, but we may be waiting for a maintainence window before rebooting.
Nothing quite like the cold-sweat when you notice that your production SQL Server or Exchange mail store is rebooting in the middle of the day!

Our work around is to just disconnect, not log off, but this causes issues with the next user who needs to log in.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I found this article mentioning a registry entry which could be the culprit:

With scheduled updates, administrators will be given a five-minute interval to decide whether to postpone installation, once the update files are downloaded (which will delay it until the next restart or scheduled interval -- depending on registry settings). If the installation requires a reboot (which is frequently the case) a user will be presented with a modal (i.e., positioned in front of the other windows) dialog box reminding her of the need to reboot (by default, the reboot will not be forced, although this can be changed by modifying the registry entry).

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\
    Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU\NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers

The logoff could trigger the postponed automatic reboot.

See also this blog post: "Is Windows Automatic Update Client rebooting your system unexpectedly? Read this to “fix” it…".

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I never saw a Windows rebooting when you really hit logoff. What are your WSUS settings ?

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The first time it happened, I convinced myself that I did accidentally hit Restart. Later I demo'd it to another tech, and both our jaws dropped. –  BillN Jun 13 '09 at 19:20
    
I'll have to check the WSUS settings. –  BillN Jun 13 '09 at 19:21

I haven't seen this one before - but something to try is to log off from Task Manager (it's one of the tabs - 'users' I think) - as opposed to using the "Start Menu > Logoff" sequence...

Whilst I think this may not make any difference, it might and is worth trying.

An alternative is "shutdown /l" at a cmd prompt.

Post back and let us all know!!

Good luck

-Mike

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Is this an orderly shutdown or a BSOD? You've checked the event log, turned off auto-rebooting in the event of a BSOD right?

This is happening on more than one server, and from your answers its clear you've eliminated human error - it can't be someone hitting reboot by mistake ever time after all, so we can discount that.

Ok this isn't quite the symptom you describe, but I wonder if you might find something by taking a look at this blog post from Microsoft. Could you be having an issue with how patches are applied?

Failing that, If its happening on more than one server (every server?) then I'd say you have an issue with some software that's part of your standard server build. Offhand that's probably what... AV, Backup client, possibly text editor (like to think this couldn't cause a restart!), what else?

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It's an orderly shutdown and restart. Nothing in the event logs other than normal shutdown and startup events. –  BillN Jun 13 '09 at 19:19

Maybe it's time to think removing shutdown and restart from start menu and only leave logoff there.

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We've considered this. –  BillN Jun 13 '09 at 19:22

I would definitely consider reviewing your WSUS policy for servers. Preferable to set them to auto-download and notify for install, then carry out the install manually (I like the comfort zone of being present to see servers going down and coming back up), but if that's not feasible then a scheduled install for 3:00AM on a Monday morning might be suitable.

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I have had this issue also. At one point it was fixed by installing SP2, but then returned. It has nothing to do with updates. I could log off 5 times in a day and every time it is going to reboot the machine. We virtualized a month ago and now when I log off instead of rebooting it BSODs, which is even worse.

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