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I have a clients Windows XP system that occasionally has errors relating to Windows delayed write failures when writing back to the server. This has been occurring intermittently over several months.

I have tried all the solutions to this I can find (they are many and varied), both relating to the client and the server systems, and nothing seems to get rid of it. So I have been looking for patterns that might help me determine the cause of the problem, and I think I may have found one...

When this error occurs, and I am in the process of trying to diagnose it (again), I am usually having to continuously cancel the Windows Update dialog telling me that an update has been installed, and asking me if I want to reboot now or later. Usually, when I am forces to give up again (I run out of time), I finish by rebooting the system (ask I was being asked to by the Windows Update). Then I don't usually see the problem again for a while, but when I do, the same Windows Update Installed, reboot now or later dialog is hanging around again.

Now I cannot have this system automatically reboot after installing an update, because it performing an important task that must not be interrupted just at any time Windows chooses to do an update. But I do not have access to be able to turn off the Windows Updates at the site either. (The term "Stuck between a rock and a hard place" comes to mind). So please don't respond with ideas like "reboot automatically after an update" or "turn off the update installation". If I had access to do these things, I would have done them already.

However: Is it possible that not rebooting after the update has been installed, may be the cause of the problems I am seeing?

Alternatively: Does anyone have any unconventional ideas about what may be causing this problem (be assured that I have already pursued the half dozen or so conventional causes without success)?

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4 Answers 4

I've experienced intermittent delayed write failures writing to a local disk that turned out to be caused by a faulty SATA cable. When you say "writing back to the server," what server are you talking about?

If it's writing to a local disk, it is likely to be a hardware problem. If it's writing over the network, please provide more details about that.

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I don't believe delaying a reboot can cause any weirdness -- Microsoft isn't live-updating files at that point, which is why a reboot is required. From what I understand, there's a list of files being used that require updating which is saved out, and upon reboot the appropriate files are copied over and the system is updated.

How frequently are you having the update manager check for updates? If it occurs once every couple weeks, then something else related to your systems uptime may be causing your problem. If it's once every day or two (and the updates are actually that frequent), and you notice it happening right around the time the updates, then perhaps it is related.

Try checking the system and application error logs (Right-click My Computer, select Manager, select Event Viewer) and seeing if there are any related error messages around the time that your errors are occurring. You may find more information than is contained in an error dialog (if an error dialog is what you're seeing).

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Over-keen cleaner popping into the room with the servers, unplugging the hub/switch (accidentally) in order to plug in his/her vacuum?

User pulling out a network cable to plug in a laptop?

Some piece of old tat which is only used occasionally (e.g. a cheque printer) which throws out loads of interference which takes down the network (or part of it)?

Mice?

Rats?

Badgers?

UPS tests which take down circuits which run your switch?

Old hard disks which are on the way out?

SAN controllers which sulk every third Wednesday?

I think a bit more info on times of day, frequency of problem, and so on, might help.

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badgers? –  Journeyman Geek Jul 2 '11 at 5:46

Write errors over network can be a lot of things, from overheating switches to faulty network connectors to software problems.

Make a list of all the problems you can find on Google and check everything.

You could reinstall the workstation but that could be a lot of trouble if you have to do 300 workstations.

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