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General Troubleshooting Techniques

The way Cadzow 2000 works is dependent on the performance and stability of your operating system, your network, and the other systems you interact with. Mostly if you are experiencing a problem such as crashes, freezes or slow performance it is due to the subtle and not-so-subtle interplay of these components.

The following are general remedies for a wide variety of performance, stability and reliability issues. Use it as a troubleshooting checklist. As you move through the list the possible remedies become more intrusive, take longer and cost more. The main things to remember when chasing down a non-obvious problem are: (a) don't panic and (b) don't look for expensive solutions. You may be able to resolve many issues with little downtime by applying some very basic techniques.

1. Disable Screensavers, Wallpaper and Desktop Icons

The easiest, cheapest, least intrusive thing you can do to a computer system to improve its performance is to clean up the desktop.

When the desktop is displayed the icons for all the folders, shortcuts and documents on the desktop are checked or refreshed. This may involve reading from many binary/resource files all over the hard disk. The problem is worse if some of the shortcuts refer to network locations. If you must have many icons on the desktop, put them in a folder on the desktop. Keep the contents of the desktop itself to a minimum.

Remove desktop wallpaper. Wallpapers can be very large and when the desktop is displayed, the image file is loaded from disk, which interferes with whatever you were doing at the time. If the machine is also a workgroup file server, users accessing the system will also experience sluggish behaviour.

Screensavers should be turned off. Modern monitors do not require screensavers to “save” the screen like the monochrome monitors of yore. If you leave the system unattended frequently, use the power management applet in the Control Panel to turn the monitor off after periods of inactivity. Screensavers can be resource intensive and a screensaver running on a server will interfere with performance for all users.

2. Check for Overheating

Does the machine have good ventilation, especially by the power supply fan? What is the room temperature? If you have some compressed air, take the machine outside, remove the case and blow all the dust and dirt out of the system. A processor which is clogged with dust can behave poorly. If you have a dusty machine, in a poorly ventilated area on a hot day you may experience all sorts of problems. The next day it may be fine again. Heat has been a major problem for PCs since the 486DX.

Visually check that the power supply fan is working. (Note: do not attempt to dismantle the power supply. This is very dangerous and can only be done by a trained technician.)

A problem that is not so common in business environments is overclocking, the practice of running CPUs at greater speeds than they were designed for. Generally speaking this should not be done at all, but if you are having problems with an overclocked system, return the CPU to its proper speed.

3. Check the Power

If the power is consistently poor, such as in some remote locations, obtain a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to condition the power and smooth out the spikes and sags. If the power is behaving badly for a short while due to, say, a lightning strike or maintenance, there's nothing you can do except wait — but obtain a UPS anyway. If you're in a building with other tenants, check if they are having problems also.

If you currently have a UPS, power surge protector or power board, try removing those items to see how the system behaves without them. If you have had a power surge those devices may be malfunctioning which in turn affects the power to the computer. They may also have failed or degraded of their own accord.

Unplug large devices sharing the same socket. Laser printers, photocopiers are very power intensive. Needless to say, refridgerators and microwave ovens etc should not be on the same socket as computer equipment.

Power cycle (turn off, wait 30 seconds, turn on) all devices, including computers, printers, hubs/routers. Power events such as surges, blackouts and so on can leave electronic devices behaving strangely until they have been turned off and turned on in an orderly fashion once full power has been restored. (See also “Printers, Network Not Functional After Power Failure”.)

4. Check for Viruses and Malware

Obtain the latest virus signatures and engine for your virus scanner and perform a full scan. Ensure the scanner is examining all files instead of just the predetermined list. To be most thorough, boot from a clean floppy and perform a scan of the boot sector. (A boot scanner is available on the Cadzow 2000 CD-ROM under \OTHER\ANTIVIR.)

Check that the entries contained in HOSTS (located in %SystemRoot%\System32\Drivers\Etc in Windows NT/2000 and above, %Windir% in Windows 9x) have not been tampered with, and that the network settings have not been altered.

See Knowledgebase Article 1131 for information on free virus scanners and spyware removers.

5. Check Disk Integrity and Free Space

A volume with corruption, lost clusters or which is simply full can create many and varied problems which often look like other issues. Fragmented volumes will also cause performance problems, especially if free space is fragmented (that is, the free space is scattered in many small chunks). “Out of memory”-type error messages are often simply a response to a volume that is almost or completely full, or a paging file that is too small.

Clear temporary files and check free space. (See Freeing Disk Space.) A few hundred free megabytes in the Windows directory, the TEMP directory, the program directory and the data directory is a good start and should allow everything to run properly, although free space of 1Gb or more is preferable. Note that when checking free space you may also need to consider other volumes (such as network drives).

If attempting to free space, do not embark on a wholesale rampage of deleting document files. You are very unlikely to create much space by deleting small files or pruning emails etc. If you have a disk space problem, it is more likely to be caused by a congestion of temporary files and other rubbish. Legitimate documents are not the culprit.

If you are using NTFS volumes under Windows NT/2000 and above, the need to check for file system errors is reduced, but not eliminated. A full check can usually only be done at startup, and can be initiated using CHKDSK C: /R and rebooting (this make take some time). FAT volumes under Windows 9x almost always need integrity checks and this can be done using Scandisk. See also Fixing Errors on Removable Media.

On Windows NT/2000 and above, convert FAT volumes to NTFS volumes.

6. Check Memory and Paging Files

Are you using too little memory? A workstation with only 32Mb can be an impediment and adding memory may solve any performance problems. It may also solve any integrity problems if your programs are running with too little memory. However, don't go crazy adding memory; if you have 64Mb on Windows 9x/NT4, 128-256Mb on Windows 2000/XP or 1Gb on Windows Vista you should be fine for most tasks and performance and stability problems may be due to other factors. More memory is always good, but it is a diminishing return.

Check that your machine is not configured to use more video memory than required. Many systems share video and system RAM, so if you have, say, 256Mb of total RAM, and the video uses 64Mb, the operating system will only have access to 192Mb. Many Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP systems only require 16-32Mb video RAM, so choose a smaller video memory allocation to maximise what is available to the operating systems. Some systems use a default setting of 64-128Mb which is often too high (unless you have a specific requirement, such as gaming).

Check the paging file is large enough (Windows NT/2000 and above) or has enough space to expand (Windows 9x). System Internals has a tool to defragment paging files. The ability of a fragmented paging file to degrade performance should not be underestimated. Locate the paging file on your fastest hard disk.

Check for programs that can be shut down or unused services.

Microsoft's Windows Memory Diagnostic can check memory integrity:

7. Check Event Log

Windows NT/2000 and above have an Event Viewer which makes it easy to review significant events. Although mostly these events are informational, there may be some which tip you off to a larger problem. For example, you may have a service that is continually logging error messages, and this might be causing a performance problem or memory leak.

8. Check Startup Processes

Your system may have a number of unnecessary processes running at startup, ranging from malware and viruses to entertainment programs to operating system processes which are legitimate but not always needed, such as the Computer Browser service. Check the Services configuration in Control Panel and check the startup processes in the registry. (See “Using Sysinternals' Autoruns Tool to Troubleshoot Startup Problems, Viruses & Spyware”.)

9. Apply Service Packs and Patches

There's no point troubleshooting an issue that has already been fixed in a Service Pack or patch. Cadzow 2000 interacts with Windows, Internet Explorer and Office, so updates so those programs can have an effect on Cadzow 2000. Service Packs may contain improvements in stability and performance which will directly affect Cadzow 2000.

10. Upgrade Device Drivers

Video, network adaptor and printer drivers are the most obvious potential causes of problems, but audio, mouse and other device drivers can be equally problematic. Check vendor websites for updated drivers. Go to to search for Microsoft-approved drivers. In extreme cases, disable non-critical devices for troubleshooting purposes.

Check that devices are operating optimally; especially disk controllers and network adaptors. Check that video is not operating with more colours than required; 24-bit is usually enough to display colours properly.

11. Check Network Configuration

Optimise your network. Remove unused protocols. Most networks only require a single protocol, unless, for example, you have a mixture of Windows and Netware requiring IPX, but even newer versions of Netware support TCP/IP. Remove unused bindings, disable sharing and disable the browser service on downlevel clients.

Remove shared printers from the server and host them on less-used systems. Sharing a printer on a machine also acting as a file/database server gives the server more work to do and clogs the server's network connection.

If running SQL Server, remove unused protocols. SQL Server can listen on multiple protocols, such as Named Pipes and TCP/IP. Determine what you really need and disable the rest.

NetBios is a protocol used to name and locate devices on a network. Depending on your environment, NetBios may need to be specifically enabled rather than relying on a DHCP server to enable it. While hardware devices such as ADSL routers provide DHCP services, they may not instruct client workstations to enable NetBios. Although NetBios is an older technology, many current applications rely on it.

12. Upgrade Network

Check or replace patch leads. One or more may be damaged or loose.

Replace coaxial cable with UTP cable. Replace 10Mbit network interface cards with 100Mbit cards capable of duplex. Replace 10/100 hubs with 100Mbit switches. Place the server on the fastest port. If you have a mixture of network hardware, check that critical systems are using the fastest hardware and less critical systems are on the slower hardware. For example, if your server is attached to a 10Mbit hub and all your workstations are connected to 100Mbit switches, you have a bottleneck at the server.

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