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Investigate an Unresponsive Windows Server

Learn how to gather more information about a Windows server that is totally inaccessible or has become unresponsive.

There are many reasons why a server may become inaccessible. If the sites on your server are still up however you are unable to reach the server via Remote Desktop, follow the instructions on Resolving a Failed Connection to Remote Desktop.

If your Web Sites are down, the server does not ping and the server is not reachable via Remote Desktop, either the server has been fully shut down, the server did not fully boot up (due to faulty configuration, corrupted files, file system, a check disk is in progress, etc), or there is simply a misconfiguration in the network adapter settings.

The following steps should help you gather more information about the server's current state.

Step 1
First, Access Your Windows Server via the Serial Console.

Once connected, type the

restart

command and press ENTER to reboot the machine.

You should stay connected to the Serial Console while the server reboots. If the server was in the process of a check disk, you will not have seen the progress when initially logging into the Serial Console but the check disk should resume when booting back up, allowing you to view the progress.


Step 2
If the server reboots and shows the progress of the check disk, you will have to allow the check disk to complete before the server will fully boot. This may take anywhere from minutes to hours depending on the sized of the disk and whether there are any errors to repair.

If you are presented with the EVENT: The CMD command is now available message, the server should be almost fully booted and you may check your sites, Remote Desktop connection and try to ping the server again. Please keep checking over the course of a few minutes as the server may not be fully booted just yet. If only Remote Desktop is unavailable, please reference: Resolving a Failed Connection to Remote Desktop for more information.

If you receive the EVENT: The CMD command is now available message but the server is still inaccessible, skip the next step, otherwise continue.

Step 3
If the EVENT: The CMD command is now available does not appear within 5-10 minutes, the server may have a problem fully booting up. Type the restart command once again and press ENTER.
Step 4
When the Starting Windows... message appears, hold the ESC key on the keyboard and press 8 to emulate the F8 button.

This will take you to the Windows Advanced Options Menu. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select Last Known Good Configuration (your most recent settings that worked) and press ENTER.

Wait for the EVENT: The CMD command is now available message to appear. If the message does not appear within 5-10 minutes, there is most likely a problem with the Operating System. You may continue to wait and check the currently running processes by using the t command and pressing ENTER periodically. If the server will not fully boot up or allow logins via command prompt, you will have no choice but to Reboot the Server into the Windows Rescue System and either try to repair the Operating System or back up your data and re-image the server.


Otherwise, If the EVENT: The CMD command is now available message is displayed but the server is still completely inaccessible, go through with the next steps.
Step 5
Type the
cmd

command and press ENTER to create a command prompt channel in the Serial Console.
Step 6
Hold the ESC button on your keyboard and press the TAB button once to switch to the new command prompt channel created in the Serial Console. You should see a screen similar to the image below.
Step 7
Before you are able to access the command prompt on your server, you will need to log in as the administrator user or another user with administrator privileges. Press ENTER to bring up the login screen. You should then see a screen similar to the image below.

Please note: The BACKSPACE key will not work when typing login credentials. Using the BACKSPACE key will delete the characters on the screen but the Serial Console will NOT actually recognize the deletion of already typed characters. If you make a mistake while entering your login credentials, authentication will fail and the channel will be closed. You will then have to create another command-prompt channel.
Step 8
Log in as the administrator user and press ENTER. Leave the Domain field blank and press ENTER. Finally, type the password for the administrator user and press ENTER.
Step 9
You should now have a command prompt to the Windows operating system.
Step 10
Once you have logged into the command prompt channel as the administrator user, try to ping another address such as google.com to ensure that outgoing connections are not being blocked. Type
ping google.com

If you receive a response, then the outgoing connections from your server are not being blocked however it is likely that a firewall is blocking incoming connections to your server. Double-check your external firewall rules set in the 1&1 Control Panel to confirm that the correct ports are open. Please reference: Resolving a Failed Connection to Remote Desktop for steps on how to disable Windows services that may be blocking the connection.

If you do not receive a response, proceed to the next step.

Step 11
Type:
netsh interface ip show config

and press ENTER to show the current network adapter settings. Check the information to confirm that the correct IPs are entered using a subnet mask of 255.255.255.255 and that the default gateway is 10.255.255.1.

If you receive a message that No more data is available, it is likely that the network adapter has been disabled.

Type

netsh interface set interface name="local area connection" admin=enabled

and press ENTER to enable the network adapter.

When the command prompt returns, type

netsh interface ip show config

and check the settings with the instructions above. Check your websites, Remote Desktop connection and ping the server again to check if the server is accessible.

Step 12
If the server is still inaccessible, you may choose to set the server to use DHCP. This will prompt our DHCP server for a lease and one will be issued to you for only the original IP that came with the server based on the MAC address of your networking card. If you have a server with multiple IPs, using DHCP will remove the additional IPs and you will need to connect to the server using the original one that came with the server. Using DHCP however will ensure that the network adapter settings are updated with the correct values and should allow you access to the server again. If you have multiple IPs, you will then have to re-add them to the server once accessible and possibly update the bindings for your web sites.

To enable DHCP, type
netsh interface ip set address "local area connection" dhcp

and press ENTER.

The terminal should output Ok. and return to the command prompt. You should now be able to log into the server using the original IP that came with the server which can be found in the Server Access Data section of the 1&1 Control Panel.


If your server is still inaccessible, it could be that your server has been locked due to a billing or abuse (if the server was compromised) issue. Please check your e-mail for any correspondence from 1&1 in your inbox and spam folders. If you have not been contacted regarding a lock of the server, please Contact us for further assistance.

For additional information, you may want to reference: