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How long does your server stay up?

At last, reliability seems to be arriving to our industry again..

I am noticing a strange occurrence in the industry for those companies running windows 2000 server.

They are starting to become very reliable. By reliable I mean that a company can have a server sitting for several months, and not have to touch it.

I used to sell my clients 3, 6 or even 8 user pick systems. These systems were multi-user, and ran on 386 boxes with 4 megs of ram. A cheap 40, or 80 meg drive and two 4-way serial cards and I had a complete multi-user mainframe system. Rather cool back then. If you know pick, that was plenty of ram for 6 users. Usually, these generic white boxes would run at least two years without being re-booted, or even touched.

I am now starting to finally see some windows 2000 server setups at clients run for months at a time without one call to tech support, or even a re-boot.

Are things really getting better? Is this a real trend, or is it just a few of my clients who are better at managing and running those servers? Is this perhaps due to the venders and users finally learning what to do, and what not to do with these boxes?

Are we finally going to see a new golden era of it being normal to run a server for a year or two before reboots?

Is this a real trend, or a false hope on my part?

How long does your clients computers, or your company you work for server now go without a re-boot?

Are you all out there seeing a increase in up time?

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Saturday, May 03, 2003

I have said for over three years "Windows 2000 is everything Microsoft ever said Windows 3.1 would be"

And that includes "stable"

I have worked with dozens of production Win2k servers, and I feel comfortable saying "if your server can't run without a reboot for at least three months, blame the software, because it ain't Windows"

I'm dreading the release of .Net Server and having to deal with all the early adopter fanboys. Until .Net Servers have been running in production for at least a year in other companies, my recommendation will remain Win2k.

Philo

Philo
Saturday, May 03, 2003

Ha, yes. A windows 2000 box has entered the list of longest uptimes.

http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/today/top.avg.html (No. 31)

I still think Microsoft have a lot of work to do before the challenge the stability of FreeBSD though..

cdavies
Saturday, May 03, 2003

W2K is very stable. I expect W2k3 to be even more stable, since MS has taken care to turn off a lot of the more unstable stuff by default - including accelerated video and sound drivers.

They're really serious about the server space.

Chris Tavares
Saturday, May 03, 2003

In all seriousness, I would think that the more significant obstacle to Windows server uptimes is rebooting to install security patches, rather than instability.

(and just to show I'm not biased, I had to reboot my Linux firewall 19 days ago when the ethernet driver flaked out, which it still does occasionally... My Linux file server has been up 50 days, but that's because I installed a new hard disk 50 days ago; before that it was up for around 300 days)

Dan Maas
Saturday, May 03, 2003

In my experience, both NT 4.0 and W2k servers can be very stable.  Application software, hardware/drivers and backup systems cause the most trouble in my little corner of the world.

Of course, if you want your server to reboot each morning, simple enable scheduled Automatic Updates :)

-
Saturday, May 03, 2003

I use Windows 2000 professional as a development box- a recent Dell which came with 2000 installed.  A few months ago I installed the latest service pack, which supposedly had vital security updates.  It destroyed my machine to the point I had to reinstall the OS.  Now I am scared to install any updates.

On the other hand I have an XP laptop which has installed several security fixes with no problems. 

I don't know if this would occur in the server version of the OS but it would sure make me nervous if I had to run 2000 for something critical.

Erik Lickerman
Saturday, May 03, 2003

W2000 seems rock solid stable. The desktop edition only seems to need rebooting to clear out the paging file (probably not much of a problem with today's memory sizes).

Have you not noted that you are no longer hearing the jibes from the Macolytes about "Did you reboot today?".

Stephen Jones
Saturday, May 03, 2003

Stephan, I actually meant win2000 server, but you are right, I certainly don’t hear the “you got to re-boot every day cry’.

However, to be fair, last year I know some people who had a real rough time with win2000 server (one had a bad nic card). However, it seems the people setting it up where not that good. Now, one year later, these systems are becoming very stable.

I am not convinced that something was fixed in win2000 server, but I am starting to see some real increases in up time. Perhaps the low cost of ram, and everyone loaded up these servers with more ram?

Hum,  maybe there is no change in the last year, and perhaps it just my own experience, and not industry wide.

However, my spider sense does tell me that server up times are getting dramatically better right now, and this even includes web sites also.


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Sunday, May 04, 2003

Microsoft produces different versions by crippleware. That's why you get a copy of solitaire on the server.

Remember the famous time when people found out the only difference between NT Workstation and NT Server was one registry key. They changed it from a zero to a one and presto they had NT server, with athe added bonus that as it officially was a workstation they didn't have to buy client licenses.

So the question is is W2000 significantly more stable than NT. I think the answer is definitely yes. The reason may be as simple as improved video drivers or improved network drivers since they used to be the cause of most NT crashes. Your suggestion of newer hardware with increased memory comes into it to.

On the workstation incidentally the general consensus of opinion is that XP is not as stable as W2000, though with little significant difference.

In general Microsoft OS's have got more stable over time, though sometimes with blips such as W95A or Win ME. There are plenty of machines around that are still running the original installation of W98ME without a blip.

The interesting question is has Linux caught up, since the general opinion was that W2000 was more stable on the desktop.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, May 04, 2003

Good Windows and Linux administrators do not set uptime records. Many security patches require reboots. Linux allows more upgrading without reboots, but still has plenty of kernel patches which do.

Setting record uptimes on either a Windows or Linux system means that the box is vulnerable. One disclaimer though: As I know nothing about (Free)BSD, I wonder why they rule the Netcraft uptime stats. Does FreeBDS not require any reboots for kernel upgrades?

What does decrease is the number of crashes and unexpected reboots. Personally, I haven't seen a blue screen on my Windows 2000 desktop for more than a year and I never had my Linux server go down for unexpected reasons. I'm glad to see OS software improving.

Oh and to answer the question, I rebooted my server a few weeks ago after 85 days or so uptime due to a kernel upgrade.

Jan Derk
Sunday, May 04, 2003

Does anybody here running Mac OS X server. any thoughts on its stability?.

cocoa developer for mac
Sunday, May 04, 2003

So, why is it that Windows reboot when things like Visio - which should be a pure user mode application - have completed their install?

Nat Ersoz
Sunday, May 04, 2003

You have to reboot for two possible reasons after installing an application....

1.  It wants to install a newer version of a DLL currently already open.

2.  The installation script is crap.


I'm almost proud that I didn't ask what version of Viagra people had installed.

Simon Lucy
Sunday, May 04, 2003

I was gonna make a joke about my server staying up a lot longer now that I got digital Viagra for it, but... oh, nevermind. :-p

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Sunday, May 04, 2003

By the way, replacing an "in-use" DLL is a significantly lessened problem with .NET if you utilize shadow copying. That is, the system copies the DLL before using it, so that you can replace the original while code is still running.

ASP.NET utilitizes a combination of shadow copying and watching the bin directory for changes in order to automatically bounce itself to take advantage of new DLLs.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Sunday, May 04, 2003

That mechanism has been in existence in Win2K for a while, like I said, there are two reasons.

Simon Lucy
Sunday, May 04, 2003

The BSD systems do require rebooting for a kernel upgrade. However, the BSD kernel development process is far more conservative (and slower) than Linux, and so BSD systems have correspondingly fewer security problems in the kernel.

This "shadow copying" thing is amusing since it's been part of POSIX filesystems since the very beginning. (incidentally, I really wish Windows would offer a truly atomic rename() operation - in many cases it's the best way to update a file without race conditions...)

Dan Maas
Sunday, May 04, 2003

Nobody said Windows was unique, especially when put up against platforms that have existed for dozens of years longer. I personally think it's a crime that it's taken this long for them to consider putting a database into the file system, and I can only hope we won't have to wait another dozen years before the file system can keep track of back-revisions internally.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Sunday, May 04, 2003

I think there are several reasons why you see FreeBSD boxes not being patched for long periods of time.  As has already been mentioned, there tend to be less security issues in general.  Many of the security problems tend to be nearly impossible to exploit as well.  They are the types of problems that a company like MS would not even bother with or would include in a service pack at some later point in time.

Anonymous
Sunday, May 04, 2003

"At last, reliability seems to be arriving to our industry again.."

I am sorry to do this Albert, but...

Reliability never left, it was just than Microsoft didn't have any until now. 

Mike
Monday, May 05, 2003

Our W2K boxes have never been rebooted unless it was after the installation of an update that required a reboot.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, May 05, 2003

I think it depends more on the applications than the operating system.  We've got a 486 PC running Windows 3.1 and the only time it's been re-booted in the last 5 years has been during power failures in the building.

Nunya Bizness
Monday, May 05, 2003

"Our W2K boxes have never been rebooted unless it was after the installation of an update that required a reboot."

Whatever the hell that means.  Humpty-dumpty speaketh again: it means whatever he says it means.

It is a simple operation to:
1. Check the applications which have a DLL open.
2. Close the application.
3. Install the DLL.

It is equally simple to unload kernel mode drivers and NOT require an OS reboot just because something was updated.  The only prerequisite for an OS reboot would be a kernel change or a root filesystem repartition.

Nat Ersoz
Monday, May 05, 2003

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