I am having a strange issue with a Windows Web Server 2008 R2 SP1. It's running on metal, no VM stuff here. It's a Lenovo ThinkServer server with 16 GB of RAM, Xeon, 4x Intel SSDs in RAID 5 and a 2 TB rust spinner. It worked fine since February until about a month ago when the problem started to surface, we believe after a Windows update.

What happens: the machine slowly becomes unresponsive until nothing can be done and has to be power cycled. This happens every 1 to 3 days, it never worked for more than 3 days without freezing. I checked the Windows logs, nothing out of ordinary there, except the "The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first" stuff.

I will describe what happened today. I see the machine frozen, so I power cycle it and install ScreenConnect. The rest of the actions are done remotely. I installed Prime 95 to see if the issue is related to the hardware. I have up Windows Task Manager. At some point, about 30 minutes after starting Prime 95, I see the CPU at 0%. I try to get into Prime 95 menus, but Prime 95 seems frozen. Task Manager was working though. Then I switch the Firefox, which seemed to be working initially, but it stopped responding within 10 - 15 seconds.

Task Manager was still fine, I was able to interact with it. Then I pressed the Start button with the mouse, nothing happens. Alt-Tab does not work as well. Task Manager is still fine at this point, but within another 10-15 seconds it does not respond as well. At this point Task Manager freezes as well, but ScreenConnect does not report a lost connection. I can move the mouse, and that's it. The local keyboard is not responsive, but the mouse of course is. The machine cannot be used, and has to be power cycled.

I had my share of blue screens and computer freezes, but never something this odd. At the moment we have provisioned another server, but I would like to know if it's a hardware or software (most likely) issue. I would like to use the server for other tasks.

Machine is frozen, but the remote connection is still up:

Machine is frozen, but the remote connection is still up

  • Anything in the event log worthy of a mention? Storage OK? – john Nov 2 '16 at 21:32
  • Nothing in the log. Everything normal, then the reboot. No errors. The discs were tested with the Intel SSD diagnostic tool and they are all fine. If there's a problem with the RAID controller, I can't catch it. The system is configured to save a full memory dump, but no dump is saved. It may be something related to storage. I am ruling out the CPU and memory, problems with them are usually resulting in BSODs or sudden reboots. – R Azvan Nov 2 '16 at 22:20
  • 1. Load Resource Monitor when the server is exhibiting this behavior and take a look at CPU, Disk, Memory, Network, etc. 2. This smells like a possible HDD problem. Do you have any hardware monitoring in place? – joeqwerty Nov 2 '16 at 22:43
  • No hardware monitoring. I left it running last night, with Resource Monitor up, showing Disk tab . This morning it's not responding, but the Resource Monitor seems to be running (the scrolling green graphs are moving) and no application is shown. Looks like a storage problem. Like the storage controller goes to sleep and never comes back, but there are no sleep or power settings for it. I will try to upgrade the RAID drivers. – R Azvan Nov 3 '16 at 14:40
  • how about issuing a powercfg -l to see which power saving settings are set on the system. You can then delete them with powercfg -delete <GUID> and disable hibernation with powercfg -h OFF – John aka hot2use Nov 4 '16 at 8:21

Thanks john and joeqwerty for pointing out the problem. It was the RAID controller driver. The server has been up for 4 days now with the newest driver I downloaded from Lenovo's support site.

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