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Strangest Issue I've Seen

By dgagne ·
Having multiple issues. Here's the scenario...
* Peer to Peer network
* All users use the same login
* All 9 PC's use the same program called Patterson EagleSoft which the database resides on
* They use 2 mapped drives to a "server" where files are stored that are needed for the program to operate properly.
* They shut the OP rooms down nightly and boot them in the morning.
* All PC's are Dell OptiPlex 330 with XP SP3 and latest patches.
* AntiVirus is Symantec Corp Ed V9.
* They had an electrical storm the night before this all started...and they said it was bad.
Nothing in the event log that details any issues.

Yesterday Morning
Got a call that their software wasn't working properly. When I arrived, I found it's only the OP rooms that are having issues. 3 other PC's in the office are running fine. Upon investigating, found that the 2 mapped drives were no longer mapped. Remapped the drives and all but 2 of them ran fine the rest of the day. The 2 that had issues, were having many various issues upon boot...different issues everytime I rebooted. One time it would have userinit issues, sometimes resource issues, other times the "Start" button would extend along the entire bottom of the screen and take up about half the screen vertically. Ran virus scan and found nothing. Running out of immediate ideas, I restored them back to Sept 1st and this worked fine.

This Morning
Got another call...same issue on 3 of the 9 PC's (one the same as yesterday). Everyone else is fine. This time, was getting insufficient resources and using "default profile" upon login. Getting multiple win32 application errors when trying to start regedit or cmd. Ran ComboFix, MalwareBytes, TSSKiller, and VundoFix...everything was squeaky clean. Then ran HiJackThis, found nothing suspicious at all that would lead me to believe there's a virus.
Ran Extended hardware tests using Dell's Diagnostic built in tests...including extensive memory tests...all passed.

Going to reload the OS and see if this works...but because I believe that if the other systems reboot, they could have the same issue, I wanted to see if anyone ran into this, or could give me an idea what to look at. PC ever lost internet connection, no evidence of virus at all,

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The Answer

by The 'G-Man.' In reply to Strangest Issue I've Seen

Should have invested in a real network with a real server.

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Do the PCs misbehave the same way with network cable unplugged?

by robo_dev In reply to Strangest Issue I've Seen

If there were a hardware failure in the Ethernet switch, for example, strange things may happen.

If there was a bad electrical storm, some of the hard-drives may have some data integrity issues. If you're having odd video issues, then a video adaptor of motherboard may have taken a power hit.

My guess would be that reloading the OS should fix it, but it would not surprise me if some of your hard drives suffered some damage from an electrical surge.

Some of the faults you describe are the types of things you see when a hard drive is physically is having issues because it cannot accurately read data, and the symptoms are random, as the files on the hard-drive are arranged randomly.

Is there adequate surge-suppression, grounding, and backup power for these PCs?

Use the SFC utility to see if regedit actually has been changed/damaged. If the hard drive is good, then I would look more closely at the possiblity of malware.

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by dgagne In reply to Do the PCs misbehave the ...

Sorry I haven't posted sooner.'re right, but your response doesn't get me much closer to the answer than I was.

Robo_dev...I believed also that something in the drives might be damaged. I ran extended tests on the hard drive, but everything passed.

The solution appeared to be the BIOS. I upgraded the BIOS from A02 to A07. After doing this, much of the problems went away. Does this mean the drive was somehow damaged? Not sure...will have to keep an eye on them. One thing is for sure...the systems are now stable and working properly.

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