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View Full Version : *URGENT*SMB 2003 R2 St is Hanging at Preparing Network Connections


techlabco
10-12-2011, 02:52 PM
Would really appreciate some help here. Gotta get this company up and running.

Company server Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition running on Dell PowerEdge 840.

They called me on Monday after saying that they were not able to login into their stations (domain stations). After some diagnostics--I found that the capacitors on the Motherboard had blown out. Check logs and it had been restarting on and off over the weekend.

We order new motherboard from a Dell recommended company and overnight the motherboard. Board arrives yesterday; I install; loads great but the C: partition is corrupt.

All other partitions are fine.

I restore the partition successfully using Active@ Partition Recovery. I can now load system and see files.

Login box prompts and I enter the admin/pass and it accepts--so I know Active Directory is working.

But then it prompts me that I have to Activate Windows, I select Yes and it just sits there with the Windows Blue background and never changes. Never prompts anything else.

I found out the onboard NIC is bad somehow. The system can see it, knows all the details and I can even make it blink using the keyboard keys. But all testing shows there is a problem with the device. So, I install a standard PCI Network Adapter card (2am) and I can now get farther than before. NOW, the "Preparing Networking Connections" screen now takes HOURS.

I can boot into Safemode (no networking) I can access the entire server without problem. But when I access using Safemode w/ Networking...it prompts to restart so it can Activate windows.

I need some help here because this company is starting to lose some big money. I will be on here to answer Q/A....

thanks so much in advance and look forward to your insight and experience!

NETWizz
10-12-2011, 04:23 PM
1. If the NIC is bad, replace the motherboard again. Dell should send you another one or the vendor whom you bought that one from should replace it. Either way, when you pay for or get a warranty board, it should be guaranteed to work.

2. It is probably missing the network adapter driver, or the new NIC has a different IP address, and the Domain Controller can't find its own DNS server and talk to Active Directory.

IF you used an OEM board from Dell, it should not need to re-activate. That is, of course, contingent upon you setting the factory Service Tag (and the same)!

Press F2 go into setup, and set it there. If the option is not there to set the Service Tag with Dell's Asset utility.


3. Replacing a motherboard should not make the system unbootable or corrupt any volumes. If there are any RAID settings, you should set them to be the same.

... If the NIC works and talks on the Internet the system should re-activate or tell you it failed if it fails it should let you activate an alternate method... This would require a call to Microsoft.


*********************************

If you are certain the driver works, you should have the same IP, Subnet Mask, DNS Suffix, Default Gateway, and DNS server(s).

grayfoxcomputing
10-12-2011, 04:24 PM
Off the top of my head, I'd check the BIOS to make sure the onboard NIC isn't turned on (if it is an onboard NIC), check the new NIC in another computer to make sure it's good (since you keep seeing the Activate Windows call, it's either not working correctly OR some security appliance is blocking your Internet access), make sure the NIC driver is loaded correctly.

You may also want to skip the Activate Windows at the beginning, let Windows load, then go to Control Panel - System and Security - System - click on the Activation link at the bottom of the System Info page. I've run into a few systems that wouldn't activate windows from the pop-up or the reminder in the tray but would activate thru control panel link.

NETWizz
10-12-2011, 04:35 PM
I failed to mention... if the new motherboard is detected as having a new NIC (even though it has the same hardware ID and driver), then the NIC may show up not configured and may refuse to take the same IP telling you another adapter already has that IP in use.



If that is the case, you need to delete it (the old NIC) from the device manager using one of these TIDs:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315539

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/241257

cyabro
10-12-2011, 06:17 PM
You may need to boot into active directory recovery mode and configure the new nic with the correct ip address.

NETWizz
10-12-2011, 07:12 PM
You may need to boot into active directory recovery mode and configure the new nic with the correct ip address.

^^^^^^^^^^^^ +1 (This is exactly what you can do to fix the problem. There is no need to go into NTBackup though; since, you won't be restoring Active Directory.)

Here is what to do:

1. Ensure the volume for C: is not corrupt & the hard drive(s) are good just like you would a Windows XP machine ==> All the same tools should work fine on Server 2003.

2. Replace the motherboard again (if the replacement one has a bad NIC, but check the BIOS setup first ==> F2 on Dell. Maybe it is just disabled [unlikely])

3. Set the Service Tag & the proper time in the BIOS (This is very important for Windows Activation and Kerberos)

4. Boot Active Directory Recovery mode and fix any NIC drivers, and assign the IP address, Subnet Mask, DNS, DNS Suffix and anything else to be what it is supposed to be. If it won't let you use the proper IP address saying it is already in use, use the two KB TIDS I posted ==> They may say they are for XP, but the same applies for 2003... All should be right with the server at this point.

5. Reboot and let it start-up normally. It should NOT get stuck! Active Directory Domain Services, DNS, network connections... should ALL happen just fine.

6. Logon to the Domain Controller and Activate Windows Server online. If it won't activate, call Microsoft... Activate Windows.

Everything should work at this point.

MobileGeeks
10-13-2011, 01:28 AM
Dude if you have changed the NIC make sure that the servers DNS is pointing to its own IP.

That will fix the long waits at login.

techlabco
10-13-2011, 06:06 PM
THANKS!!! To everyone for your quick responses.

Here is basically what we found--we disabled the NIC and brought in a new one. Wouldn't recognize. We found that alot of the changes in the BIOS wouldn't stick and we changed the CMOS battery. no luck in sticking changes.
Basically, our live test diagnostic was reported issues with the NIC.
We RMA'd the board...got the new one this morning...and fired it up...

WORKS!

Yippee!

I love this forum and community and very grateful for your quick response.

thanks again!!!

-Garrett

NETWizz
10-13-2011, 07:38 PM
Dude if you have changed the NIC make sure that the servers DNS is pointing to its own IP.

That will fix the long waits at login.

Yes, only it can't communicate with that DNS server (itself) unless it has an IP address assigned to some NIC on the same sub-net (same mask). It is going to have issues resolving DNS queries that aren't fully-qualified unless the DNS suffix is specified... and it won't activate without the Default Gateway.

If the other NIC is disabled & configured, he can't assign the IP address to the new NIC because it is already in use.


It isn't like fixing one thing is going to fix the problem. He will have to configure ALL of its network info then re-activate.

NETWizz
10-13-2011, 07:40 PM
THANKS!!! To everyone for your quick responses.

Here is basically what we found--we disabled the NIC and brought in a new one. Wouldn't recognize. We found that alot of the changes in the BIOS wouldn't stick and we changed the CMOS battery. no luck in sticking changes.
Basically, our live test diagnostic was reported issues with the NIC.
We RMA'd the board...got the new one this morning...and fired it up...

WORKS!

Yippee!

I love this forum and community and very grateful for your quick response.

thanks again!!!

-Garrett


Amazing... Once it had a working motherboard, and identical working NIC, all of the pre-existing settings on the previous NIC were automatically configured on the new motherboard!

If this didn't happen, you would fix the drivers, delete the old "ghosted" card via those TIDs and configure the new card with the previous details.