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This morning, we rebooted our Server 2008 R2 box. No problem, came right back up. Then we shut it down and let it install windows updates. While it was off, we added some RAM. Then we turned it back on.

The system came right back up to the "press ctrl-alt-delete" screen, so far, so good.

I logged in. The system got as far as "Applying Group Policy" -- then spent almost an hour applying drive mappings. Finally finished that, and has now spent 30 minutes on waiting for the Event Notification Service.

I still haven't been able to log in. Remote desktop service doesn't appear to be running yet.

I tried viewing the event log from another machine. I see that the box is writing to the Security log, but there are no events in System or Application in the last 45 minutes.

Digging through the System log of events from 45 minutes ago, I see a bunch of timeouts:

  • A timeout (30000 milliseconds) was reached while waiting for a transaction response from the ShellHWDetection service. [lots of these]
  • A timeout (30000 milliseconds) was reached while waiting for a transaction response from the wuauserv service.
  • A timeout (30000 milliseconds) was reached while waiting for a transaction response from the SessionEnv service.
  • A timeout (30000 milliseconds) was reached while waiting for a transaction response from the Schedule service.
  • A timeout (30000 milliseconds) was reached while waiting for a transaction response from the CertPropSvc service.

What can I do? Should I try shutting it down remotely, or will that do more damage?

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You should always test the RAM after any RAM changes. Test in the system and before booting any OS installation you care about. RAM issues risk corrupting the OS installation. –  David Schwartz Aug 31 '12 at 14:42

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

After 2 hours trying to boot, I don't think you have a choice. If it hasn't booted by now, it's not going to. Time to power it off, hard, if needed.

And FWIW, those timeouts can be caused by bad or incompatible RAM. Pull out the new RAM before booting the system up again, or boot into a diagnostics/MEMtest CD and see what's up with those new DIMMs.

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We ended up having to shut it down hard. Pulled the RAM, and it came right back up just fine. We'll try running diagnostics on the RAM after everyone goes home, and see what we find... –  Jesse Aug 31 '12 at 15:56

Sounds like bad RAM. (I see you had the presence of mind to do a reboot test on the machine before you started mucking about with hardware updates...)

First step: Turn the machine off.
If you can, try a remote shutdown, but it sounds like you're at a point where the machine is totally unusable in its current state, so if it takes more than say 15-30 minutes to shut down go ahead and have it powered off.
You might do some damage, but honestly you may be doing more by letting it churn away with what is probably bad RAM. You don't know what's happening behind the scenes at this point, and a hard power-off is a relatively known quantity.

Second step: Undo the last thing you did before the machine started misbehaving (pull the RAM).
If that makes the problem go away you probably have bad RAM. If not you have some other problem...

Third step: Reinstall the RAM. Make sure it's properly seated.
Run a memory test program (or this one, or many others) before booting the OS. As David said in his comment you should really do at least one pass through one of these tools whenever you install RAM. Bad chips are not as common as they used to be, but they do still happen.

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Thanks for the advice; it does sound like RAM was the problem. –  Jesse Aug 31 '12 at 15:56

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