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Expert advice for file server troubleshooting

Network administration expert, Lindi Horton answers a query regarding file server troubleshooting. She explains potential reasons for file server issues, and things to check to solve the problem.

If a file server will not work, what do I do to troubleshoot it?

You can always take a baseball bat to the server and hit it until it starts working. Unfortunately that’s not guaranteed to work but it might make you feel better. There are a number of steps you can take to conduct file server troubleshooting.

First identify if the file server issues are software or hardware related.  Start with hardware first. It’s easier to diagnose and identify. Hardware related problems generally show up as failures in booting the machine or in Systems logs. An example of a common hardware problem is bad blocks on disks or unseated cards causing beep codes upon boot. Typically resolving hardware issues involves replacing the bad or poorly functioning hardware component. I will often try installing a secondary file server first, transferring the data over to allow for parts to be replaced without affecting the end users.

Software problems come in a number of forms and factions. Because I don’t know what software and operating system you’re running, it’s hard to give some guidance to this solution. First start with the application logs. Identify if there are errors being logged. More often than not, the file server is not working due to access permissions or file permissions. For larger deployments consider automating file permissions for consistency.

If no errors are logged in the application and the hardware is functioning properly, test the file server’s network connectivity. Ensure that it has the ability to get to users by using tracert and ping. A non-functioning file server will have a problem in either of these categories, with more information I could certainly help provide more specifics. Hopefully this helps you not take a baseball bat to the fileserver.

This was first published in May 2011

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