8 Server Troubleshooting Tips

server troubleshooting tips

1. Identify and Classify Server Problems

It is important to determine which category the server problem fits into, otherwise and IT engineer can waste hours of troubleshooting time searching in the wrong direction. Server problems can generally be categorized into:

  • Hardware Problems
  • Operating System configuration problems
  • Application/services-related problems

2. Standardize troubleshooting routine

Good IT engineers should have a standardized and troubleshooting procedure that they follow each time something goes wrong to assist them to identify and correct server problems most efficiently. Server problems are generally more complicated than computer problems, because the operating system itself is more complex and because of all the services that run on a server machine.

3. Troubleshoot physical layer problems

The first step in troubleshooting server problems is to rule out hardware problems. Check server hardware, any attached peripherals and cabling to determine whether the physical layer is functional properly. If a new hardware was recently added, ensure that it is compatible with the operating system and the correct drivers were installed for the new hardware.

4. Troubleshoot addressing and routing problems

Once the hardware problem has been eliminated, check the operating system configuration. Incorrect TCP/IP settings can result in addressing and routing problems. TCP/IP settings have been known to mysteriously change, for example, when you install an application.

5. Troubleshoot application problems

The applications that are installed on servers are different from the applications that are typically installed on workstations. Server applications tend to be those that allow you to manage, maintain, or monitor the server (such as network monitoring or disk utilities), or those that add another server service (such as proxy server software) installed on top of the server operating system. Compatibility with the underlying operating system is essential. On a Windows server, check the application log for application-related errors.

6. Troubleshoot Email Server problems

Email is the most used network application today. Problems with the mail server can be due to connectivity problems. Ensure that the Mail Exchange (MX) resource records in the DNS entries are correct. Another area to note is to make sure the mail server has plenty of disk space for user mailboxes. On top of that, if you want the mail server to receive mail from other mail servers, make sure that your mail server is configured to enable relay. At the same time, opening your server to replays can make it vulnerable to be used to replay spam through your server. Hence, make sure the server is configured to accept relay messages only to our own domains.

7. Troubleshoot dial-up/remote access server problems

If clients are unable to connect to your remote access server, check the general connectivity issues mentioned earlier. Make sure that remote access services are installed and configured on your server and the server is started. Next, make sure that your dial-in, PPTP, and/or L2TP ports are enabled to accept inbound remote access calls. At the same, make sure that the remote access server is configured to allow connections on the protocols that are being used by the remote clients.

8. Troubleshooting a Bad Server

Sometimes the worst happens and the server is beyond help. The server has to be reinstalled with the operating system and start over. This can result in annoyance, requiring several hours of work or it can be a disaster, resulting in crucial data being lost. The situation depends on how well the company has prepared for the disaster. Some important preventive measures are:

Backing Up

  • It is important to always have a current backup of the critical data. Conduct regular test restoration to make sure that your backup software and hardware are in good working order. Invest in a good UPS
  • Power surges or outages can be responsible for the server glitches, even if your server appears to have survived the incident intact. It is important to implement a good Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to prevent this.

Use VM software to mirror server configuration

  • An effective disaster protection is server clustering, that is, creating an exact duplicate of your server on a second machine which can instantly take over the duties of your failed server so that users experience little or no interruption.